The HAPS Geezer Gab!

A message from HAPS President Emeritus, Bill Perrotti.
A message from HAPS President Emeritus, Bill Perrotti.

2015 in San Antonio marks my 25th consecutive annual meeting dating back to Greenville, SC in 1991. It’s amazing to have witnessed the evolution of the organization since that time. Seems that some of my perceptions would be a perfect way to pen my first ever of what I hope will be many blogs in the future.

Back in 1991, HAPS was just a fledgling organization with only a few hundred members total. However, the conference format was already what persists to this day… two days of updates in the hotel followed by two days of workshops on the campus of the sponsoring college. The format worked then and continues to work today. The other (and more important) thing that has persisted is the special character of the organization and its role in developing friendships and networks of colleagues.

Old school HAPSters rockin' the annual conference in 2003.
Old school HAPSters rockin’ the annual conference in 2003.

Back then I had attend a number of different professional meeting (both biological and clinical) but had never experienced the welcoming kind of sharing that has always characterized HAPS. Right from the start, HAPS to me was a professional society “without an ego.” And that’s what has made it so special over these many years.

Back then there was a Core Curriculum Committee trying to develop a common curricular design that educators everywhere could use. There was a Comprehensive Test Committee that was just beginning to create the first paper version of a standardized test for A&P. We argued about how much of it should be anatomy and how much physiology, and whether there should be four or five answer choices for each question. There were no Animal Use or Cadaver Use or Distance Learning/Technology position statements. The topic of animal use in education generated a lot of very vigorous discussion for a couple of years before we finally had a document that could work for members on their campuses. That was followed by a Cadaver Use statement and then by a Distance Education statement (another hot topic). I can also remember lots of discussion about how big HAPS should become and how fast (or slow) it should grow. More discussion centered on whether HAPS should include high school teachers and support A&P at the secondary school level. There was no web page, no paid personnel or executive director, no permanent society office, no scholarships, no Foundation, no HAPS-I, no real interest in educational research, and no real association with other professional societies. In fact, there was real concern for a long time that if we became to closely associated with APS or AAA, we would just be gobbled up and lose our HAPS identity.

Perrotti and peeps in 2006
Perrotti and peeps in 2006

HAPS was simply an organization of educators who valued teaching and who came together to share and to learn. HAPS changed my career and transformed A&P at my college as no other organization could have done. In the process I’ve made wonderful lifelong friends and each year I happily add more to that list.

We’ve really come a long way and that brings to the main perception I took away from this year’s wonderful meeting in San Antonio. HAPS energy!!! HAPS is brimming with new blood. First-timers and second-timers (some young, some older and more experienced) who seek a society that meets them where they live, that is, in the trenches teaching A&P and loving it. I see many of these newer members already looking ahead to stepping into leadership positions of all sorts and that just makes me smile. Far from the point in the past where we worried each year about who could we possibly convince to step up and lead the organization, now we have many enthusiastic younger members who are open about wanting to increase their involvement over time, up to and including as an officer. The HAPS pipeline is very alive and very well indeed.

Makes me almost wish I had not retired last year…almost.

Friendships forged through HAPS last a really long time.
Friendships forged through HAPS last a really long time.

Summer Greetings from the Western Regional Director

A message from the HAPS Western Regional Director, John Jackson.
A greeting from the HAPS Western Regional Director, John Jackson.

The family (aka, the “rolling nut-house”) and I recently returned from a 4800 mile Odyssey wherein we headed westward to hang out in the redwood forests of Northern California, visit Crater Lake, and otherwise rendezvous the with the sea otters in our extended family somewhere in the tide-pools south of Coos Bay.  Although there were no Cyclops, nor Scylla & Charybdis to content with, we still saw a great deal of the local wildlife, and were introduced to the taste of some new (to us) microbrews.  And we just missed ya.

I’m somewhat of a committed extrovert — my wife, not so much.  My kids, well, like any smart kids, they take after whoever is giving out the high sucrose treats.  So, although I would have found a great deal of joy in knocking on your classroom (or condo) door to say hi as we were passing through your town, my lovely wife’s normalcy in initiating encounters with people we don’t know super well, over-rode the chance to share a hug, or a beer and a smile as we rolled through your town.  And perhaps that’s all right — as there wouldn’t have been any warning, and there you would have been trying to say hello to a large bald guy with his blond entourage whilst your hands were fresh out of the afternoon’s wet lab demonstrations — or we would have been knocking on the front door just as you cracked your last beer to enjoy at the end of your long summer day getting ready for the fall semester.  

There are some BIG trees in northern California! Or else those kids are tiny...
There are some BIG trees in northern California! Or else those kids are tiny…

“But we’re HAPSters!” I try to explain to The Missus, who looks at me as though I just suffered a minor infarct to Broca’s area and didn’t articulate the worldview she was observing.  “Just ’cause you hide from the people in your national organization doesn’t make that behavior the norm, you know.”   The kids, anticipating from which side of the front seat the next KitKat piece is going to fly, stare off at the street signs distractedly, awaiting resolution of the momentary tension.  

And like Lewis and Clark (and Stanley and Livingston), we moved on, and missed a potential rendezvous.  My bad.  

However, like Stanley and Livingston, (and Lewis and Clark, 99 years ago this past week) — we will get a chance to rendezvous — perhaps near your city at a Western Regional HAPS conference. Or maybe, it will have to wait until the splurge of the spring semester-ending HAPS Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Family road trips--- a great way to refuel before starting a new teaching term.
Family road trips— a great way to refuel before starting a new teaching term.

But if WE missed crossing paths — one thing is still sure —unless you’re one of those folks who is taking or getting a sabbatical break this fall, the students are upon us.  Medical students have already been handed their white coats in white coat ceremonies all over the nation this past week.  Undergrad lab kits will soon be doled out as well, and people will be trying to recall exactly what did José Bowen say about printing and handing out your syllabus?  (Don’t worry– you can look it up because it is all in the HAPS-Ed conference issue that was just released this week. There are lots of good ideas there, even if you haven’t been paying attention to the list serve over the past couple of months.)

As you head back “into the trenches,” remember to smile.  Teaching is tough work, which is why you were picked to do it. The students need what you have to give them; and society desperately needs to the students to “get it.”  So: no pressure — just the fate of the world hanging in the balance in the next couple of weeks.  It’ll help you forget that when we rolled down 101, or I-5 or I-15, or US 2 or Oregon 138, or US 97, we could have, would have, should have stopped in, but we just missed ya.

But I look forward to seeing you again soon.



Jon Jackson is the HAPS Western Regional Director and a fellow in the History & Philosophy of Science at the Institute for Philosophy in Public Life.  You can follow his fellowship project on the Philosophy of Nutritional Biology “Are We What We Eat?” at

Musings from your President-Elect

A message from the HAPS President Elect, Terry Thompson.
A message from the HAPS President Elect, Terry Thompson.

Musings on an August summer afternoon from your HAPS president-elect: Rocking on my front porch with a tall glass of ice tea; watching hummingbirds and butterflies also enjoy our medicine wheel herbal garden; knowing I should instead be weeding said garden. While many of us teach in the summer as well, I hope everyone had a chance to fit in some great adventures or at least the opportunity to relax in a hammock and read something totally unrelated to school. We’ll all be sharing our “what I did over summer break” stories soon with colleagues as we try to get back into the rhythm of a new Fall semester.

My thoughts stray to another summer “weeding” task I always try to do – dig through my Round Tuit file. Growing up, I remember my father always seemed to have handy a wooden nickel with “TUIT” engraved in one side. It would promptly come out in response to our typical childhood retort when trying to put off a chore. You can still buy them today.

Need a Round TUIT? They look like this!
Need a Round TUIT? They look like this!

When I started teaching full-time, I got in the habit of keeping a Round Tuit file folder. During the rush of Fall and Spring semesters, I throw any new A&P developments, neat tidbits, and teaching strategies in the file to save it for later and the attention it deserves. Of course, now I also have an electronic Round Tuit folder. It is great for all those emails and web links that seem to come right after I’ve finished teaching a particular topic.

Of course, David Evan’s What’s New on the HAPS-Listserve goes in that file after a quick timely review, so I can dig deeper at leisure and incorporate current ideas into my next term. Two of my other favorites to put in my Round Tuit are the HHMI Biointeractive News and the Nobel Prize Monthly. For teaching ideas independent of content, I also add the Teaching Professor’s Faculty Focus.

If you aren’t familiar with any of these free resources, I’d recommend you subscribe, and don’t worry about having “one-more-thing-to-deal-with” – create your own Round Tuit file for guilt free stashing now and leisurely “weeding” next summer break, after the Atlanta HAPS conference.

What are some of the other great sources of ideas out there that you’d throw in your Round Tuit file? Share your favorites with everyone in the comments.

Here’s bidding farewell to summer break and wishing everyone a fantastic start to your fall semester!

We’re Baaaaack!

A message from the HAPS Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.
A message from the HAPS Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

Greetings everyone!  Just as you are all gearing up for the fall term, so is the HAPS Communication Committee gearing up to bring you news and updates from the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society.

We’re excited to bring HAPS out of summer break and back online with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram. Hunt us down on those social media venues and start following our weekly updates, which will keep you in the know.

This fall, we’re going to play with some new blog-er-ific ideas.  Instead of coordinating a single blog theme for the term, we are recruiting awesome HAPSters to compose various pieces on topics of their choosing.  We will publish these new pieces on MONDAYS (except for when we publish them on FRIDAYS, like today, because the blog-master (that would be ME) is trying to stretch out her summer just a bit more!), so you can look forward to a Monday morning treat from the HAPS Blog.

We’d also love to encourage conversation around the blog posts. Please let us know what you think of the topics we’re choosing and if you’re feeling really ambitious, we’d love to have you contribute a post or two.

Finally, we are excited to begin a “Best of the Blog” column in the peer-reviewed HAPS-EDucator.

Check out the 2015 Conference Edition of the HAPS-EDucator.
Check out the 2015 Annual Conference Edition of the HAPS-EDucator.

This column will run in every issue and will feature the term’s most popular posts.  While there will be several criteria to help us decide which posts “win” the honor of being published in our journal, one of the criteria will be the amount of conversation generated by the post.  So if you really like what someone has to say, please leave a comment indicating your approval.

So check back next Monday (I promise…I will publish the post by MONDAY!) for a game-changing piece from HAPS President-Elect, Terry Thompson.  I can tell you that her post really is game-changing, because when she sent me the draft 2 weeks ago, it immediately changed my game.  What fun!

Interested in composing a blog post or two?  Contact Communication Committee Chair Wendy Riggs ( for more information.