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Psychology Professor Martin Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association this summer. Seligman, who received his doctorate from the University in 1967, will serve a three-year term heading the APA's membership of over 142,000 clinical and academic psychologists. Psychology Professor Joseph Volpicelli -- who wrote his dissertation under Seligman's supervision -- said the APA presidency highlights his former advisor's strengths. "[Seligman] is one of those people that can appeal not only to clinicians but to scientists," he said. Volpicelli added that he thought Seligman would make the APA's priorities more comprehensive, moving away from the organization's current clinical psychology focus. Seligman is most widely known for his best-selling books which include Learned Optimism, What You Can Change and What You Can't and The Optimistic Child. He has recently appeared on various talk shows and was the top consultant to a Consumer Reports survey on psychotherapy. Seligman said he decided to run for president last year. In June, when the APA tallied the ballots, Seligman won by the largest margin in APA history, receiving 9,694 votes. He said APA members voted on the basis of a psychologist's scientific reputation and regard as a member of the scientific community. "As president-elect there are three main issues that have concerned me," Seligman said, citing the United States' managed care system -- which he called flawed, low research funds and the schism between scientists and practitioners. "I would like to ensure that the mentally ill get qualified providers and what they need," he added. 1996 College graduate Jon Slotkin, who served as Seligman's teaching assistant, said he hopes the APA will benefit from Seligman's ability to "actively combine the research and practice of psychology." "Dr. Seligman will? bring psychology to the media and public in a concise, accessible and scientifically accurate manner," Slotkin said. He said Seligman's research is ground-breaking because it "works to prevent child depression and inoculate people against mental disorder." Volpicelli further praised Seligman for his practical outlook on research. "His [research] is used as a model of depression? that stimulated a lot of research both nationally and internationally that is helping people now," Volpicelli said. "This is something he's helped teach me as a graduate student and I've used in my own academic career." Psychology Professor David Williams noted that Seligman's election will make Penn's Psychology Department more "visual." Volpicelli said Seligman's new position will also increase funding for the often-overlooked field of mental health.

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