In sports, it’s difficult to achieve back-to-back championships. It happens, but it’s rare. Teams enter a sort of post-championship slump, due to a variety of circumstances, usually due in part to the hype associated with winning it all.
OΔK’s FY 2014 was our championship year. We welcomed the most members in a biennium in our Society’s 100-year history; the OΔK Foundation raised enough money to finish paying for our National Headquarters Building; and, of course, we celebrated our Society’s Centennial in Lexington, Va. in historic style!
How do you top that?
Here’s another thing that was working against us as we began this past year: the new member initiation fee was increased. Historic indications, in previous years when our membership fee increased, suggested that we should experience a drop in new members but a slight increase in revenue.
Beyond that, our headquarters staff had spent the previous 18-months preparing for our Society’s “championship year” in FY 2014, leaving little time to prime the pump for the chartering of new circles.
Fast-forward 12-months…we won again! Back-to-back championships!
We chartered 14 new circles this year and welcomed 8,523 new members, the most ever in both categories. Our Headquarters staff should be commended for their efforts in both ensuring that existing circles were initiating new members as well as undertaking an aggressive extension strategy to charter new circles.
As if that weren’t enough, we hosted 393 participants at 11 sites as part of the Society’s drive-in workshops. In 2013, there were 335 participants. The evaluations from the workshops were very positive. The Board has authorized plans to organize these drive-ins again in 2017 as they have proven to be a high-impact, low-cost opportunity to engage our members.
We introduced Leading Today, Leading Tomorrow. This online newsletter containing various leadership articles the most recent of which (sent at the end of April) contained a link to a TED talk by Simon Sinek about how leaders make their people feel safe. This new and innovative communication furthers OΔK’s efforts to both contribute and benefit from the leadership space and provide useful information to our members. If you’re interested in receiving Leading Today, Leading Tomorrow, please send an email to the National Headquarters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plans are well underway for OΔK’s 2016 Biennial Convention and Leadership Conference in greater Grand Rapids, Mich. To date, we have confirmed several featured speakers across the Society’s five phases of campus life.
Derreck Kayongo, an initiate of the East Carolina University Circle, will be our opening speaker. Derreck is the founder of the Global Soap Project and was named a Top 10 CNN 2011 Hero of the Year. Global Soap collects partially used hotel soap and processes it to help save lives.
Bree Boyce, an initiate of the Francis Marion University Circle as a featured speaker. Bree was named Miss South Carolina in 2011, and she is noted motivational speaker who regularly talks about eating healthy, fighting obesity and self-esteem.
Dr. Kevin Kruger, an initiate of the University of Maryland – College Park’s Sigma Circle, will moderate the trustees’ panel. Dr. Kruger is the president of NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, and he is a well-recognized speaker and writer on student-related topics.
Dr. Ann Marie Klotz will speak on developing a personal leadership brand. Dr. Klotz, whose research interests include the collegiate presidency, will also be moderating our presidential panel.
Last month, together with NASPA, and thanks to the efforts of the Society’s Research and Curriculum Development Committee under the leadership of Dr. Matthew Clifford, OΔK offered a three-part webinar series featuring Dr. Walter Fluker. This webinar was designed to help participants develop their understanding of a model of ethical leadership and how the dimensions of that model intersect to shape leaders who are morally, intellectually and ethically sound. The series was very well received, and we hope be able to offer additional leadership development opportunities such as this in the future.
I continue to be grateful to the army of volunteers – the members of the Society Board of Directors, Foundation Board of Trustees, National Advisory Council, the newly-formed Student Advisory Board, circle officers and especially our very talented national headquarters staff – for their dedication and leadership to moving OΔK forward.