In this issue
APA Council of Representatives report
By Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, and K. Warner Schaie, PhD, ABPP
The APA Council of Representatives met in Washington, D.C., from February 21-23, 2014. In many ways, this was an important meeting. The most significant item on the agenda was voting on motions that would restructure council, including the board of directors. We spent much of the first day discussing the proposals by the Implementation Working Group (IWG) that was formed late in 2013 in accordance with votes held in the August 2013 meeting that would propose changes in the composition of council, divert fiscal responsibility from council to the board for a three-year trial period, and prepare slates for members to these and other governance bodies.
The underlying purpose of the changes to governance is to make APA, as an organization, more “nimble” and hence, efficient. Much of the impetus for these changes came from evaluations conducted by a consulting group to APA who has worked over the past several years to assess governance's effectiveness. Some of the input to this process came from council members who felt that their ability to contribute was not taken advantage of, particularly given the amount of time spent at council meetings in which members passively listen to reports and vote on agenda items that, in the majority, involve relatively limited discussion. In previous reports, we have provided more detail on this background.
The motions placed before us at this meeting asked us to approve a three-year trial period in which fiduciary responsibility is transferred from council to the board. Instead of voting on annual operating budgets, council would control a budget intended to fund council-initiated “policy” types of activities. This motion was approved by an 80-19 percent majority. The role of the Finance Committee, which now works with the APA Treasurer and the APA CFO, is still left unspecified.
Council's size would be reduced and each division and each SPTA (State, Provincial and Territorial Association) would send only one representative regardless of its number of members. There would, therefore, be no more apportionment ballot. A Council Leadership Team (CLT) would be composed of members of council and would help manage council's workflow. The CLT would consist of 12 members including a chair elected from Council, designated seats for early career psychologists (ECPs), the American Psychological Association Graduate Student (APAGS) chair, and three at-large members elected from the Council. This motion was approved 93 to 5 percent.
The revamped board of directors would include six members-at-large elected directly from the membership. A Needs Assessment, Slating, and Campaigns Committee (NASCC) would consist of seven members who would conduct an annual needs assessment and election slates for public member and general Association membership seats on the Board. NASCC would be designed to be limited to avoid conflict of interest or “King/Queen Making.” Thus, they would not include current governance members or even divisional or SPTA elected officers. Previous elected officers would be eligible after a period of time in which they had not served in an elected position for APA. The maximum term on NASCC is three years. This motion was approved 90 percent to 10 percent.
As mentioned above, two models for restructuring council were then compared, both of which involve one representative per division and one per SPTA. The restructuring would also include additional representatives that come either from each of the four directorates and ECPs or would include representation from ethnic and minority psychological associations and the seven regional psychological associations. We did not vote on the alternatives models presented, because we decided that more time is needed to flesh out the composition of these models.
It might appear that council is losing its influence over governance and, particularly, the finances of APA. However, we were asked to place our trust in the process and in so doing, sign on to the idea that a revamped governance structure will allow members to have greater input into important policy issues facing APA and psychology in general. President Nadine Kaslow is doing an excellent job of negotiating us through this difficult process, and Past President Melba Vasquez, who is now chairing the IWG, similarly is focused on serving the best interests of psychology and APA members. There have been several virtual Town Halls to discuss these changes, and the IWG members seem very open to our input.
We also approved the principle that sunsets the C-3 responsibilities of Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP) effective 12/31/14. A motion to have the Board of Directors decide to reimburse Council members fully for both the February and August Council meetings beginning in 2015 was approved. This does not guarantee that the reimbursement will be made but that the Board may decide to provide that funding (or not).
The council meeting coincided with “match day,” which is when psychology internship applicants are informed about whether or not they were placed in an internship position. The good news is that the number of matches (and internship spots) are increasing, but there is still a significant discrepancy. Some of the improvement may be accounted for by the decision last year to provide $3 million in support for the development of new internship slots.
Turning to regular agenda items, Council unanimously approved funding the Archives for the History of Psychology for $60,000 per year for the next three years. Funding was approved for a three-year period to support a centralized APA application system for graduate education in psychology.
Funding from an agreement reached with the APA Insurance Trust in 2013 provided $6,250,000 that council voted to place into a designated fund. Additional funding for the costs of implementing the GGP was authorized, putting the total cost (over four years) for the project at roughly $1.1 million. We approved the 2014 budget of $110.5 million with an operating margin of $1.5 million.
The definition of early career psychologist (ECP) has been set at seven years up until the present. We voted to approve a motion proposed by the Committee on Early Career Psychologists to change the definition to 10 years, which will provide a consistent definition that takes into account the realities of changing career trajectories. An item was referred to all boards and committees that would have created specific ECP slates on many of the boards and committees.
The proposal for a new division, Div. 57 (Society for Technology and Psychology) was not approved due to concerns about overlap with several existing divisions and the fact that it is not consistent with APA's strategic plan.
Regardless of these governance changes, votes for boards and committees will still be held this year. We want to urge you, once again, to nominate yourself and others for these slates. Please let us know if you are interested in doing so and, if you are put on a slate, we can help you prepare your caucus support materials. Susan is current chair of the Coalition of Academic, Scientific, and Applied-research Psychology as well as a newly elected member of the Board of Educational Affairs. Warner is serving his last year on the Committee for the Structure and Function of Council. Both of us are willing to mentor you if you would like to become involved.
As always, we appreciate your support in allowing us to represent you at these meetings. We are honored to serve you during these times of change for APA's future governance and encourage you provide your input and suggestions.