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.
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.
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.