A University of Tennessee at Chattanooga honor society has received an honor of its own.

In mid-July, the UTC chapter of Psi Chi—the international honor society in psychology—learned that it had been designated a Model Chapter. Of more than 1,180 Psi Chi chapters worldwide, the UTC unit is one of just 23 to attain Model Chapter status.

In earning the honor for the 2019-2020 academic year, UTC Psi Chi received a $100 award and a custom certificate.

“This was the first time we’ve received the Model Chapter Award from the international organization,” said Preston Foerder, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and the UTC Psi Chi faculty advisor. “We had a board this year that managed to put everything together and pinpoint all of the things they needed to do to get the award.”

Nine objectives must be met to earn this status. According to the organization’s website, psichi.org, the Model Chapter Award was created “to recognize, designate, and reward healthy and active chapters who demonstrate communication and cooperation with their local communities, their own chapters, and the Psi Chi Central Office.”

Established in 1929, Psi Chi’s mission is to encourage, stimulate and maintain excellence in scholarship while advancing the science of psychology. Membership is open to undergraduate and graduate students who major or minor in psychology.

Foerder said the UTC chapter had a strong year on the recruiting front, inducting 37 new student members. He also credited the chapter’s students for their philanthropy, citing participation in autism walks, fundraising, and greening and cleaning of Chattanooga.

“It’s all on the students,” said Foerder, who has been working with UTC Psi Chi for more than six years. “As an advisor, I let them guide the organization. They come up with their own ideas and they come up with new directions they want the chapter to go.”

The UTC Psi Chi chapter consisted of about 100 students this past year, including a leadership team led by board members President Melissa Materia, Vice President Braden Sanford, Treasurer Emme Woodward, Secretary Claudia DiVincenzo and Social Media Chair Damian Spears. While all five have completed their undergraduate studies, Materia and Spears are furthering their education through the UTC master’s program.

Brian O’Leary, head of the Department of Psychology, noted the significance of having the organization’s headquarters on Fourth Street within walking distance of UTC.

“We have had the opportunity to forge a relationship with them, and they have called on us to work directly with them on different projects,” O’Leary said. “Preston has done a good job of building that relationship with the national headquarters, and it provides our students with opportunities that aren’t available to chapters outside of Chattanooga.”

Having the local chapter achieve Model Chapter status translates into a humble brag for the UTC psychology program.

“It’s an honor society, so a lot of our better students are drawn to this group,” O’Leary said. “It provides them membership in an international organization. It provides networking opportunities across the country and across the globe. And it’s a good network to draw on.

“Psi Chi has been growing here over the last several years, and they’re a very active chapter. We’re really proud of this group and they have done a lot of good work.”


Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call 423-425-4363.
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Chuck Wasserstrom is an executive staff writer in the UTC Office of Communications and Marketing.

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