The History of HAPS

The Formation of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS)

The concept of forming a national organization to serve those who teach human anatomy and physiology arose at the Anatomy and Physiology Workshop held June 1-5, 1987, at Triton College in River Grove, a western suburb of Chicago, Illinois. This workshop was sponsored by theIllinois Association of Community College Biologists (IACCB), the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), and the Triton College Conference Center; and was held in response to a perceived need for professional growth activities evidenced by a very successful one-day human anatomy and physiology conference held by IACCB in the spring of 1985. 

The 1987 Anatomy and Physiology Workshop director was Robert Anthony who was assisted by Triton Workshop Coordinator Jay Omori. The agenda included two days of update seminars followed by two days of hands-on workshops.  A fifth day was used for field trips to area institutions involved with some aspect of human anatomy and/or physiology. The cost was $150 for the full week or $75 for the seminar portion only. Approximately 150 people attended the seminars with 90 of those staying to participate in the workshops. Lodging was arranged at a nearby college for $25 a night (including breakfast!). Many participants expressed interest in having future workshops and possibly in forming a focus group within an existing organization (NABT and the American Physiological Society (APS)  were discussed) or in forming a separate organization for those involved in human anatomy and physiology education. In response to the high level of interest it was decided to hold a second Anatomy and Physiology Workshop at Triton College in June of 1988.

The second Anatomy and Physiology Workshop was held at Triton College June 6-10, 1988. It followed the same format as the 1987 workshop and there were approximately 150 participants. About half of the participants completed a survey that assessed the interest in developing a professional organization for human anatomy and physiology educators. Results of the survey showed overwhelming support for forming a new professional organization, and a number of participants volunteered to help in the organizational process. Virginia Rivers of Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, offered to host a third Anatomy and Physiology Workshop in June of 1989. An advisory committee was formed consisting of;

Bob Anthony, Triton College, River Grove, IL
William Belzer, Clarion University, Oil City, PA
Paul Boehlke, Martin Luther King College, New Ulm, MN
Barb Bowen, Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, WI
Ray Bruns, Mesa Community College, Mesa, AZ
Richard Crowell, Blackburn College, Carlinville, IL
Mary Guest, Clarke College, Dubuque, IA
Gary Johnson, Madison Area Technical College, Madison, WI
John Lutz, Beloit College, Beloit, WI
        Lew Milner, North Central Technical College, Mansfield, OH
        Lowell Neudeck, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI
        Jim Nielsen, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL
Henry Ruschin, Humber College, Rexdale, Ontario, Canada
Richard Steadman, Clark County Community College, Las Vegas, NV
        Victoria Weisenberg, Oakton Community College, Des Plaines, IL
        Arlene Wolff, Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, WI

John Lutz volunteered to head the advisory committee and called a meeting for August 17, 1988, at Triton College. Members were asked to submit or bring ideas about an organizational name, organizing principles for a constitution or by-laws, membership, publications, and any other topics that warranted discussion.  In attendance at the meeting were John Lutz, Lew Milner, Victoria Weisenberg, Bob Anthony, Richard Crowell, Richard Steadman, Gary Johnson, Paul Boehlke, Arlene Wolff, and Barb Bowen. Several ideas for an organizational name were proposed, and after some discussion it was decided to name the organization the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS). Committee members provided constitutions from several biological societies to use as models, and a draft constitution for HAPS was developed primarily modeled on the constitution of the Colleges Biosciences Association of Canada which had been provided by Henry Ruschin. The draft constitution called for the affairs of the society to be managed by an Executive Committee made up of a President, a Past-President, a President-Elect, a Secretary-Treasurer, and three Members-at-Large. Each year an election would be held for the new President-Elect, the Secretary-Treasurer, and the three Members-at-Large. John Lutz, Richard Steadman and Lew Milner were chosen to serve as the nominal President, President-Elect and Secretary-Treasurer. Discussion took place about the publication of a newsletter and/or a professional journal. Paul Holmgren (Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ) had independently begun publishing and distributing The Anatomist/Physiologist, a national newsletter for instructors of human anatomy and physiology, in 1987 and volunteered to serve as the HAPS publications editor. Membership dues for HAPS were set at $20 per year, and the ten members of the advisory committee in attendance provided HAPS with its initial operating capital of $200.

In the spring of 1989 a special issue of The Anatomist/Physiologist was distributed that announced the formation of HAPS and included a copy of the proposed constitution and a letter (on official HAPS letterhead) from President-Elect Richard Steadman seeking membership in HAPS and attendees for the June, 1989, workshop in Reno, Nevada. The mailing list was a compilation of lists from the Triton workshops, The Anatomist/Physiologist, NABT, and Colin Wheatley of William C. Brown publishers.

The third Anatomy and Physiology Workshop was held at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, from June 5-9, 1989; and was directed by Virginia Rivers. The initial HAPS constitution was presented at the first business meeting on June 6th, and with its adoption HAPS was officially formed. Richard Steadman and Lew Milner were formally elected to the offices of President and Secretary-Treasurer. Newly elected officers included President-Elect Richard Welton (Southern Oregon State College, Ashland, OR) and Members-at-Large Sandra Grabowski (Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN) and Virginia Rivers. At this time HAPS membership numbered about one hundred. By the fourth Anatomy and Physiology Workshop in 1990 in Madison, Wisconsin, membership had grown to over four hundred. By 1994, five years after the formation of HAPS, membership had grown to almost one thousand with members in 49 states (our first South Dakota member joined in 1996), Puerto Rico, and most of the Canadian provinces.

Largely through the efforts of Member-at-Large Larry Hibbert (Ricks College, Rexburg, ID) HAPS was incorporated in the state of Idaho as a non-profit corporation, Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, Inc., on March 11, 1991. The Internal Revenue Service granted tax-exempt status to the corporation on July 9, 1992.

HAPS Governance

Some minor changes in the make-up of the Executive Committee have been made over the years.  The original three Members-at-Large were expanded to four Members-at Large in 1992 with two elected each year to serve two-year terms. In 1996 these offices became Regional Directors, each Regional Director coming from a specific geographical region of the United States and Canada. The name of the Executive Committee was also changed at this time to become the Board of Directors. In 1997 the office of Secretary-Treasurer was divided into two separate offices.

Initially the Executive Committee/Board of Directors met face-to –face only once a year at the Annual Conference. Conference calls were held, usually quarterly, during the school year to discuss the goals and operations of the organization. In 1995 the Board of Directors decided that it would be beneficial to have a face-to-face winter meeting to address organizational issues in greater depth. In order to keep the cost low, then President Bob Anthony kindly invited members of the Executive Committee/Board of Directors to stay in his home for the first mid-year meeting. The practice of a face-to-face mid-year meeting continues with other meetings held periodically on-line through the HAPS website.

As HAPS grew over the years it became increasingly difficult to rely exclusively on volunteers to keep track of membership, conferences, and the many varied activities of HAPS. In addition, the lack of a central office created communication problems. For example, a HAPS toll-free number was established in 1992 with calls to this number directed to the HAPS President. Since he/she was most often not able to answer the call directly when it came in this meant listening to a message, frequently contacting a committee chair for information regarding the query (probably another message), and then getting back to the caller (probably another message) This was very inefficient and often resulted in delays in responding to inquiries from members or perspective members. In September of 1997 HAPS contracted with the Organization Services Group (OSG) of St. Louis, Missouri, to perform many of the day-to-day chores of HAPS operations. The primary contact person at OSG was Tonya Ferguson. This eased the burden that had been placed on the volunteer leadership and provided some additional stability and constancy to the organization. When OSG was sold in 2004 Tonya formed Ferguson Management, Inc. and continued to work with HAPS. This very successful relationship continued until Tonya’s retirement in 2007. At that point a search committee was formed that culminated in the selection of the current HAPS management firm, Association Services Group (ASG) of LaGrange, Georgia, with Shanan Molnar serving as the primary contact at ASG. In 2009 HAPS decided that there were sufficient funds to take the big step of hiring a full-time Executive Director. A search committee was formed which led to the selection of Larry Spraggs as the first HAPS Executive Director. He was succeeded by the current Executive Director, Peter English, in 2012.


HAPS Communications 

As stated previously the initial publication of HAPS was The Anatomist/Physiologist a newsletter that pre-dated HAPS and was personally funded, edited, and published by Paul Holmgren (Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ) beginning in 1987. This became HAPS News, the official quarterly publication of HAPS, in 1989. Sandra Grabowski (Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN) succeeded Paul as Editor in 1990 followed by Theresa Page (Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX) in 1992. In 1996 the name of the publication was changed to the HAPS EDucator. Theresa was followed as editor by Caryl Tickner (Stark State College, Canton, OH) in 1998, Susan Baxley (Troy State University Montgomery. Montgomery, AL) in 2000, Marsha Sousa (University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK) in 2008, and Jennelle Malcos (Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA) and Sarah Cooper (Arcadia University, Glenside, PA) in 2012. HAPS EDucator began as a print publication but moved to an on-line format in 2009.

In 1992 Mildred Galliher (Cochise College, Douglas, AZ) offered to establish and maintain an electronic bulletin board for HAPS. In 1996 a “HomePage on the world wide web” was established by John Waters (Penn State University, University Park, PA) of the HAPS Technology Committee. The original site had a rather complicated URL at Penn State University, so in 1998 Jim Pendley (Imperial Valley College, Imperial, CA) of the Technology Committee registered the currently used domain,, for use by HAPS. This initial bulletin board and website were relatively simple and unsophisticated, but at the time the internet was not very heavily used by HAPS members. In 2002 the Board of Directors met at the annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona, and decided it was time to develop a more professional website. Carl Shuster (Madison Area Technical College, Madison, WI) was asked to assemble a ‘wish list’ of capabilities that would be desirable for the HAPS website. Investigation showed that this could involve considerable expense, but HAPS was fortunate that Justin White, husband of HAPS member Donna White (Collin County Community College, Plano, TX), volunteered his services to revamp the website. Carl and Justin worked together to bring improvements to the website. In 2004 the Board of Directors decided to expand the web capabilities further, and the web design firm Affinscape was chosen for the task. Carl worked with Affinscape to transition from the old website to the new website which became operational in 2005.

In 1998 Jim Pendley established a HAPS Listserv (HAPS-L) to provide members with a forum for sharing expertise and experiences to promote excellence in the teaching of human anatomy and physiology. The HAPS Listserv facilitates group communication and discussion among its participants on an ongoing basis regarding various topics of Human Anatomy and Physiology. It is a resource where HAPS members can go for ideas or assistance. It can also be utilized to notify participants of training opportunities, educational opportunities, provide links to web sites with relevant content material and post job opportunities. Members receive an e-mail for every message posted. All messages are archived in a google group and can be accessed on-line. The HAPS Listserv is open to HAPS members only.

A second list serve, Teaching Portfolios, was established in -----  and is a site where people share ideas concerning teaching philosophies, summaries of the roles and responsibilities to accomplish these goals, summaries of teaching methods, feedback from students and peers, self-reflection and assessment, evidence of personal goals for future years and evidence of professional development. Anyone can join this list serve. There is also a HAPSblog established in 2012 for communication between and among HAPS members.

HAPS Resources


HAPS has developed a number of resources for educators of human anatomy and physiology. In 1992 the HAPS Core Curriculum Committee issued Course Guidelines for Introductory Level Anatomy & Physiology (now Course Guidelines for Undergraduate Instruction). This document was designed to provide guidance in setting curriculum for a two semester undergraduate course in human anatomy and physiology. It is a suggested model and is not intended to be a mandate or an infringement upon academic freedom. The HAPS Curriculum and Instruction Committee has more recently added A&P Learning Outcomes to accompany the course guidelines.

In 1993 the HAPS Competency Testing Committee chaired by David Smith (San Antonio College, San Antonio, TX) issued the first HAPS Comprehensive A&P Exam. The intended purpose of this test was to provide a means where a school can compare their students’ collective performance with the performance of other students that have taken the same test. This test has been repeatedly modified, improved, and validated. It currently consists of one hundred five-option multiple choice questions with forty questions on anatomy and sixty questions on physiology. 

The Technology Committee chaired by Martha DePecol Sanner (Middlesex Community and Technical College, Middletown, CT) in 1997 developed a resource list describing over one hundred fifty software programs then available for anatomy and physiology.  Over the years the pace of innovation made maintaining this list unworkable, and the committee was eventually disbanded.

HAPS has developed a number of position statements on various issues in anatomy and physiology education. The first of these, the Animal Use Position Statement, was developed by the HAPS Animal Use Committee chaired by William Perrotti (Mohawk Valley Community College, Utica, NY) and was adopted in 1995. A Cadaver Use Position Statement was developed by the Cadaver Use Committee chaired by John Martin (Clark College, Vancouver, WA) and was adopted in 2001. A Position Statement on Distance Education, developed by the Technology Committee chaired by Tom Lancraft (St. Petersburg Junior College, St. Petersburg, FL), was published in 2002 and has been modified to become the current Distributive Education Position Statement. In 2005 a crisis affecting many HAPS members arose in several southern states when the accrediting agency known as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) formulated a very narrow definition of the necessary qualifications for instructors of human anatomy and physiology and began telling schools that many of their instructors, including some that had been teaching human anatomy and physiology for decades, were not academically qualified to teach the subject. Under the leadership of then HAPS President Frederic Martini (University of Hawaii, Haiku, HI) and with input from the membership the Accreditation Position Statement was quickly developed and adopted in 2005 outlining HAPS position on the educational backgrounds that would ‘qualify’ an individual to teach human anatomy and physiology.  Dee Silverthorn (University of Texas at Austin) dramatically expanded this effort in 2010-2012.

The HAPS Safety committee was the result of Sandy Lewis (Pierce College, Puyallup, WA) holding a meeting of interested individuals at the 2000 Annual Conference in Charlotte, NC.  During the next year Sandy officially formed the new committee and Karen McMahon (University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK) became chair of the committee in 2001 at the annual conference in Maui.  The committee developed and issued the HAPS Safety Guidelines in 2004 to promote the health and safety of both instructors and students and the committee has continually updated the document since that time.

HAPS Conferences


HAPS holds an Annual Conference each year patterned after the initial Anatomy and Physiology Workshop with two days of seminar presentations, two days of small group workshops, and a day for a local field trip. The Annual Business Meeting is held in conjunction with the seminar days, and an exhibition area for publishers and other companies that market products useful in anatomy and physiology education is provided. The location of the Annual Conference moves around the United States and Canada in an attempt to give members an opportunity to periodically have an Annual Conference relatively close to home. In addition to the Annual Conference, HAPS sponsors Regional Conferences throughout the year at various locations. These are usually weekend gatherings for members within a particular region. The first two Regional Conferences were held on October 26,1991 (Jack Marr, University of Southern Indiana) and January 17,1992 (Ann Smith and Lee Neary, Joliet Junior College). The established goal of HAPS is to hold one regional conference in each of the four HAPS geographical regions each year. 

HAPS Professional Development


Participation in professional growth activities is typically a requirement for educators. Many institutions will award Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for attendance at a HAPS Annual Conference or Regional Conference. In 2006 the Board of Directors decided to move ahead with a more ambitious plan for continuing education and the HAPS Institute (HAPS-I) under the leadership of Kevin Patton (St. Charles Community College, Cottleville, MO) was launched at the 2007 Annual Conference in San Diego, California. HAPS Institute offers HAPS members the opportunity to earn graduate credits in a variety of flexible formats. Credits were initially granted through the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, with services provided by Pierce College in Puyallup, Washington and are currently granted through Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. HAPS Institute courses are typically two credits and involve two components: 1) active review of core concepts and integration of recent discoveries and concepts; and 2) exploration of established, new, and emerging methods of teaching and learning in the undergraduate anatomy and/or physiology course.  A portion of some HAPS-I course activities take place at the Annual Conference.

HAPS Grants and Scholarships


In 1994 the HAPS Executive Committee initiated a program of modest grants, scholarships, and awards for anatomy and/or physiology faculty and their students. These awards support the mission statement of the Society, which is to promote excellence in the teaching of human anatomy and physiology. Awards are available in several categories to support participation at the Annual Conference and HAPS Institute as well as student research grants and faculty grants for developing innovative and/or alternative pedagogy. A special award for the innovative use of technology in the undergraduate classroom was established in 2011 by ADinstruments in memory of HAPS member Sam Drogo (Mohawk Valley Community College, Utica, NY).


HAPS Partnerships & Affiliations


Over the years HAPS has established cooperative relationships with several other related professional organizations. The first of these was the American Physiological Society (APS) as several early HAPS members were also members of APS. Other organizations include the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA), the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), the Society of Ultrasound in Medical Education (SUSME), and the Association of Anatomy, Cell Biology, and Neurobiology Chairpersons (AACBNC). In 2003 HAPS joined with AAA, AACA, and AACBNC to form the Federation of American Societies for Anatomy (FASA).

HAPS also prides itself on having a cordial and mutually beneficial working relationship with publishers and other companies that market products useful in anatomy and physiology education. Several individuals from these companies have played pivotal roles in the creation and growth of HAPS. They have all been an important presence at every HAPS conference and are valuable corporate members of the organization.

Written by Gary Johnson at the request of the HAPS board
Spring 2014