Professor Joan Freeman, PhD, the Founding President of ECHA, is a world expert in the lifetime development of gifts and talents. She is an elected Fellow of the British Psychological Society and holds their Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with the gifted and talented, among honours from elsewhere.
Arthur Cropley was born in Australia in 1935. He served for 5 years in the Australian Army, was a schoolteacher for 4 years, then obtained his PhD from the University of Albertain 1965 and taught at the Universities of Reginaand Hamburg, with brief stints in Australia.
During my Presidency ECHA got a new bank account that a professional organization needs and this now allows us to pay the membership by credit card. I also left my term with money in the bank account and you can now discuss what to do with the money to promote giftedness and talents.
1. Constitution to make ECHA a legal organization, registered in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Registration in the Chamber of Commerce in Nijmegen/Arnhem (ECHA is a charity association under the number 40146782).
Presidential acceptance speech setting ECHA’s goals in 2000:
The first one will be the development of a set of regulations for the ECHA diploma that will help to foster even further development that will benefit the community of teachers and practitioners as well as the ECHA itself. These regulations will be delineated by the General committee and submitted to all the ECHA members for their consideration and suggestions. After that the new rules will be voted in the General Assembly of members and will enter into force.
The primary aim of ECHA is to act as a European network for understanding high ability throughout the lifespan. From its establishment on 19th May 1987, during the years of my Founding Presidency, it soared from an idea to become a dynamic multinational association. The initiating team (including Pieter Span, Harald Wagner and Ulrike Stedtnitz) reached out particularly to professionals behind the (then) ‘iron curtain’. High standards were crucial, which is probably why the demand for international membership obliged us to remove European geographical boundaries. We published a quarterly newsletter and (with great difficulty) a scientific peer-reviewed journal. Not only did we present biennial conferences, but several times a year across Europe we set up ECHA symposia at other conferences, as well as independent ECHA workshops, e.g. maths, music, adolescence, thinking.
It was an honor for me, after having served five years as editorial assistant, to take over the position of editor-in-chief of High Ability Studies in 2007. The large number of submissions that High Ability Studies regularly receives and the journal’s extensive pool of reviewers testify to the exceptional work of my predecessor.
As the new Editor-in-Chief of the High Ability Studies in 2002, I had been often asked whether I intended to develop new emphases. Actually there is a fine line between preserving the tried and true and cautious adaptions of new developments. Therefore, I thought that the proven course chosen by my predecessor was generally to be continued. Indeed, Roland Persson had done a tremendous job. Most noteworthy is that he had registered the journal with all the major literature databases. Thus, I could focus on changes with regard to contents.
I succeeded Founding President Joan Freeman as Editor-in-Chief of the ECHA scholarly journal High Ability Studies in 1999 and stayed on, according to contract, until 2003. I was encouraged by the publisher (Carfax, at Oxford, at the time, which was later incorporated into Taylor & Francis Publishers) to make my own personal impact on the journal. I shared much of Joan's philosophy, namely to go looking for needed knowledge not apparently evident to main stream research, as pursued by scientists not necessarily known to everyone in the field of giftedness and talent. I still feel that this is something that should be pursued with an even greater fervour. Nothing good will ever come out of stagnant dogma and academic inbreeding. I did, however, decide to make an effort to include expertise research into the journal, a growing field of science which at the time did not really have a specific journal of its own. This direction was picked up and continued also by my successors: Albert Ziegler as well as Heidrun Stöger.
The first ECHA scientific publication, the European Journal of High Ability, was published in Sofia in 1990. It was extremely difficult manoeuvring currency through Bonn, Utrecht Hamburg, Vienna and Sofia, and then getting the copies out to the West. The priority was a high academic standard, including work from behind the Iron Curtain. When I became Editor in Chief (1996-1999), I renamed it High Ability Studies because our readership was well beyond Europe. I chose its new publisher, Carfax (now Taylor and Francis) in Oxford, UK, and redesigned the cover, still in print. There were literary-style book reviews in every twice-yearly issue.