Springing Forward with Our Future

09 Mar

Although spring has arrived on Wake Forest’s campus and Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend, it’s hard to believe that it will soon be the end to another academic year. When O∆K started the academic year, there were nearly 300 circles of record. Since that time, we have established new circles at Western State Colorado University, the University of St. Katherine, and the University of Mary. On February 24th, I was the installing officer when we presented a charter to our newest circle at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The Citadel, Washington State University – Tri-Cities, and Purdue University Northwest are all are working toward April chartering ceremonies. These schools are excited to bring O∆K to their respective campuses to facilitate collaboration between collegiate members and to advance leadership.

Earlier this year, in January, the Omicron Delta Kappa Society Board of Directors and Foundation Board of Trustees held their semi-annual meetings in Irvine, Calif. on the campus of Concordia University Irvine. We are indebted to Mike Bergler and his colleagues for hosting our volunteer leaders. While we were there, we continued our discussions about potential extension opportunities in Canada and Mexico. International expansion is one of the initiatives coming out of our strategic plan, O∆K 2024: Leading for Our Second Century. I hope to have more to share with you about our international efforts after our summer meetings in St. Paul, Minn.

Throughout the fall semester and into the start of the spring semester, our membership numbers have tracked ahead of last year and the previous year. As of today, membership numbers for the fiscal year are 4,682. There were 4,281 initiates this time last year and 4,539 at this time in FY 2015. Our membership goal for FY 2017 is 8,600 initiated members.

The Omicron Delta Kappa Foundation is also having a very good fundraising year. It is my pleasure to announce several gifts including the establishment of a scholarship for O∆K members in the creative and performing arts. This scholarship is being funded by Foundation Vice President Sally Albrecht. Linda and Jeff Stone have also established a challenge fund for the Samford University Circle Endowed Fund and a fund supporting programming for our regional drive-in workshops focused on ethical leadership challenges. Jeff is a member of the O∆K Foundation Board of Trustees.

This year’s drive-in workshops have been built around the topic of Leadership: Mind and Body, which was selected by our members at the 2016 convention. Each workshop has included a session on how our collegiate leaders may better embrace their personal wellness and set an example as they lead their organizations. Also, this year’s workshops have provided each participant with an opportunity to complete the Student Leadership Competencies Inventory so that they better understand their strengths and areas in which they may continue to grow and learn. The developer of this instrument, Dr. Corey Seemiller, is scheduled to be one of the featured speakers at our next biennial convention which will be held in Nashville in 2018.

Dr. Seemiller is also the co-author of Generation Z Goes to College which is a fascinating text that provides some insights about our students who were born between 1995 through 2010. This generation of students are the true digital natives – born with ready access to computers in the family den. My four children are in this generation although they’ve still got about ten more years before they head off to college. From reading the research on this generation of students, I understand that they are less interested in recognition and more interested in credentialing. Judging by the shelf of sports participation trophies collecting dust in my garage, I’d say that’s true! This characteristic is an important consideration for Omicron Delta Kappa because it challenges our circles to do more than simply celebrate collegiate leaders. It means that we need to identify strategies to help our collegiate members develop and demonstrate that they have the competencies of integrity, collaboration, and communication.

Our biennial national convention, the 50th of which will be the one held in Nashville, is a major program of our organization. It serves many functions related to the governance of Omicron Delta Kappa including the election of national officers as well as review and approval of proposed constitutional amendments. It is also a wonderful opportunity for collegiate members and advisors from across the country to share information about best practices in circle operations. However, the cost of operating this biennial gathering have grown with inflation through the years, and it may be time for us to refocus our approach to the convention. For this reason, I have appointed a presidential commission on our convention which will present its recommendations to the Board of Directors at the winter 2018 meeting. I am pleased that Past National President Steve Bisese and current National Advisory Council Chair Michelle Burke have agreed to co-chair this commission.

One of the greatest joys of being involved with Omicron Delta Kappa is having the opportunity to meet our collegiate leaders. This summer, at our convention in Grand Rapids, I had the pleasure of visiting with Pasquale “Paqui” Toscano who is an initiate of the Alpha Circle at Washington and Lee University. We celebrated Paqui by recognizing him as one of the National Leader of the Year award winners. In case you missed in the last issue of The Circle, Paqui has been selected as a 2017 Rhodes Scholar.

We continue to focus on our mission to recognize and support the collegiate leaders of today as they become the community leaders of tomorrow. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or suggestions.

Thank you for your continued devotion to our Society!

Yours in O∆K,

Matthew W. Clifford, Ed.D.
O∆K National President

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