podium on stage

President’s Column: The State of the Division

Kevin S. Masters, PhD
Kevin S. Masters, PhD

Kevin S. Masters, PhD, Division 38 President

I suspect all of you have, at least occasionally, watched the President of the United States deliver the State of the Union address. It’s always an interesting evening. Perhaps what I’m about to say reveals something about my own twisted mind, but the part I always find irresistible is watching the two dignitaries on the podium with the President. This is particularly captivating when the Vice President and the Speaker of the House, who sit directly behind the President and are thus on camera for nearly the entire address, are from different political parties (which seems often to be the case). Consequently, one of them is not from the President’s party and will have to make many decisions such as: 1) do I applaud; 2) if I do applaud, how vigorously; 3) do I stand up or just sit and applaud; or 4) do I just sit there with a smug and somewhat annoyed look on my face? As I said, maybe I’m revealing too much about myself, but I find the psychology of that event to be at least entertaining and sometimes downright fascinating.

We have no such traditions in Division 38. The Division President is not constitutionally bound to deliver a State of the Division address, and if s/he did, who would fill the seats on the podium? We have no Vice President or Speaker of the House. (May be something to think about — or not!). But in this article I would like to briefly discuss the State of Division 38. From my perspective, the State of Division 38 is excellent and getting better all the time. One thing I have learned as President is that there are so many members involved in so many important projects and providing so much service to the Division that I really have a very difficult time keeping it all straight in my mind and truly understanding the significant contributions that each individual member is making. But when I am able to wrap my mind around it I am amazed at what is being done and it demonstrates to me the importance of teamwork. You may pick your analogy from sports — they all add up to the same thing. In baseball, you can’t win consistently if all the players are singles-hitting infielders. In basketball, not everyone can be a shooter (as coaches say, there is only one ball) and someone needs to set up the shooter and feed him/her the ball. Football provides probably the most vivid example of the need for diversity in type of player and skill sets. Not even a casual fan would mistake a center lineman for a wide receiver, but you definitely need both. The same is true in Division 38. I am amazed at the individual skills that our members have and how by combining these skills within the Division we are able to maximize our influence and better serve the profession broadly as well as our own members.

This tradition continues into the future. Our upcoming election will feature a slate of candidates for office that is exceptional. I encourage you to carefully consider the candidates and be sure to vote for the candidate of your choice. From my perspective, the quality of each of these candidates is so superb that, as a Division, we simply cannot lose. That is a great place to be and speaks well for not only the current state of our Division but its future as well. Nevertheless, despite this extremely fine display of talented individuals who have volunteered their time to lead our Division, I cannot conclude this section without pontificating for just a moment about an issue that is near and dear to my heart. I am certain that in your private lives each of you respect and provide valuable service whether it be to your local civic or faith community, school district, or in your own neighborhood for those in need. But it seems that, in the professional realm, service has become something of a bad word. For example, we immediately inform new faculty at the beginning of their careers that they are to be “protected” from doing service. “Learn how to say no” is our advice on the matter. I don’t deny that “publish or perish” is probably a stronger reality now than it has ever been. Surely new faculty must not be overwhelmed by service. They must get their classes prepared and begin productive research careers. But do they really need to be protected from service? (I use the word protected because, in my experience, that is exactly the term used in these instances). Perhaps I am a voice of one on this issue, but it seems to me that learning how to balance service commitments with other obligations is a much better professional model for new faculty and does not send them the message that service is, virtually in its entirety, something to be avoided. I fear that we have become so good at “protecting” them and teaching them to say no that once they go through the review process and become tenured they have become very good at viewing service as something to be avoided and are quite skilled at saying no. But is service really a career killer? Sure, it could be if done in excess or used to avoid other obligations. But isn’t it still possible for new faculty to make wise decisions and agree to service positions that not only provide service but even have professional benefit for the individual faculty member? Fortunately, in Division 38 at this time we have a plethora of very involved and skilled junior faculty and young clinicians as well as students. This, to me, is probably the brightest light that I see in our Division right now and gives me a strong sense of optimism for our future. Nevertheless, I encourage the more senior folks to think carefully about the message that is being transmitted between professional generations.

As a Division we are, indeed, fortunate to have so many senior members who are committed to the Division and profession and willingly and often take up the mantle of leadership. I feel personally privileged to have worked with so many of these leaders through the years when I was the editor of this publication. They are simply a wonderful group of people. But I now write to those of you who are senior members and have shied away from elected office or from leadership on Councils or Task Forces. I know there are a million reasons to not do it — all of them legitimate. Well, maybe one is not legitimate – the one where you feel unqualified or incapable of doing the job. I really doubt that to be true in very many cases. And besides, we will help you! Nevertheless, I know that you are very busy. Anyone who is skilled will be sought out and likely be busier than is possible to maintain. Good people are asked to do many things, that is just the reality of it, and you must say no to some of them. But I ask you to think about serving in leadership in Division 38, to put the Division on your list and then get involved at some point. For some reason as I write this I think about an incident at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships a number of years ago. Jimmy Conners was in his mid-to-late 30s, ancient by professional tennis standards, and was playing a much younger player. Conners was putting up a solid fight, but on one point he was just not able to outduel his opponent. Between points he seemed somewhat distraught and then a spectator near the court yelled, “Hey, you’re already a legend.” Upon hearing this Connors looked up, smiled, and gently tapped a ball into the crowd in the direction of where the comment originated. I’m not sure exactly how this story fits or why I am thinking about it other than to say that many of you are, indeed, already legends! I know that your work must go on and you likely feel that you haven’t accomplished nearly all that you’d like to but, again, I ask you to consider Division 38 as a place where you can lead and allow us to benefit from your extensive knowledge in the field.

Ruth and Joe Matarazzo with Travis Lovejoy in February 2014 at a Division 38 Membership event in Portland, OR. Dr. Matarazzo was the first President of Division 38; Dr. Lovejoy is the current Chair of the Early Career Professionals Council.
Ruth and Joe Matarazzo with Travis Lovejoy in February 2014 at a Division 38 Membership event in Portland, OR. Dr. Matarazzo was the first President of Division 38; Dr. Lovejoy is the current Chair of the Early Career Professionals Council.

Any discussion about the state of anything must say something about money. Indeed, Treasurer Mark Lumley informs me that we are on solid ground financially. This is due to the careful management of funds that Division leadership has engaged in for many years and it certainly helps that our Division, unlike many in APA, has been growing. During this past year a number of membership-oriented events have taken place at cities across the U.S. and the Division’s numbers and morale have both grown as a result. In particular I thank Belinda Borrelli (Chair, Membership Committee), Travis Lovejoy (Chair, Early Career Professionals Council ), and Stephanie Hooker (Chair, Student Council) for their excellent leadership in these endeavors. I hope that this tradition will continue in the years to come and spread to other cities with more events to be held.

I could go on at length about all the other exciting events that are happening in Division 38 but I’ll save those for another time. I will just conclude by saying, as I did at the start: The State of Division 38 is very solid and the future has never been more promising. Of course there are a myriad of challenges that I could cite, but I’m sure you are well aware of them. Working together, as a team, we can move forward, meet the challenges, and build an even stronger and healthier division for the future. I hope you will join me and so many of your colleagues in this important (and fun!) work.

One thought on “President’s Column: The State of the Division

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.