Two weeks ago, the Society’s Board of Directors held our winter meeting in Raleigh, N.C. at William Peace University. While there, we were able to speak with members of the circle, including long-time Faculty Advisor Dawn Dillon, about their efforts on behalf of O∆K. The strength of our Society continues to be grounded in the work of our circles on nearly 300 campuses nationwide.
In past correspondence, I’ve shared with you our desire to grow membership to 10,000 new members annually – a goal originally adopted in 2012. Last weekend, the Board once again endorsed a stretch goal of 10,000 new members annually by 2020. To date, membership numbers are trending positively – up nearly 3% over last year at this time. This fall, O∆K chartered at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, and there several campuses that will be chartered in early 2016 including Southern Virginia University and Suffolk University. To provide the support necessary to grow membership, we hired an additional leadership consultant, Nat Vaughan, to assist with our extension efforts – especially those at HBCU institutions. Nat is a 2015 initiate of our new circle at SUNY Old Westbury.
We continue to make significant progress in “owning the leadership space,” to paraphrase Executive Director Dr. Tara Singer. Thanks to the leadership of At-Large Board Member Dr. Matthew Clifford, the Research and Curriculum Development Committee is working with NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education – to sponsor another webinar in spring 2016 with Dr. Corey Seemiller. The topic will be using the Student Leadership Competencies Inventory to facilitate student leadership awareness and development.
Even more exciting is the development of O∆K’s online leadership hub – “O∆K Leadership Matters” – an on-line resource containing useful information on leadership development for members, circles, and educators that will launch in conjunction with the convention in June 2016. It will contain information about leadership assessment instruments and theories as well as information on leadership-focused organizations and conferences. Dr. Singer provided a “sneak peek” of the website to the Board while we were together in Raleigh. It’s an impressive compilation of leadership resources!
The Ritual Review Ad Hoc Committee, chaired by past National President Andristine Robinson, spent several months this summer reviewing the initiation ceremony as well as our chartering and officer installation ceremonies. The new initiation handbook provides alternative language for an invocation or opening moment of reflection and for a benediction or a closing moment of reflection. The oath has also been strengthened by making it even more clear the obligations of membership in Omicron Delta Kappa.
The Diversity and Inclusion Work Group, chaired by student At-Large Member Benjamin Williams, also made significant contributions to the discussions of the Ritual Review Ad Hoc Committee. While in Raleigh, this work group presented language to be included in O∆K’s long range plan – O∆K 2024: Leading for Our Second Century – detailing a number of strategic initiatives that will assist O∆K in promoting diversity and inclusion of historically marginalized and underrepresented groups that the Board adopted unanimously.
On a related note, The Circle is also focusing on matters of diversity and inclusion in its issues this academic year. As you likely noticed, the fall issue included an article about the roles of our members in the desegregation of higher education. The winter issue will include a piece on Title IX, and the spring issue will contain a feature on O∆K members who are leaders in the LGBTQ community.
Programmatically, ten institutions were selected to receive Clay Grants to support campus-based programming and applications are now being received for this year’s Foundation Scholarships as well as the Gen. Russell E. Dougherty National Leader of the Year.
The O∆K Foundation continues to make good progress again this year. Unrestricted giving continues to increase, and we have launched a number of circle-specific endowed fund campaigns that are generating generous gifts that support scholarships as well as a circle-specific programs and activities. The O∆K Foundation recently welcomed new Trustees Terry Kungel (Purdue University Circle) and Marc Slotnick (University of Miami Circle). We’re delighted to have Terry and Marc join the Foundation Board.
Finally, plans are well underway for the 2016 Biennial Convention and Leadership Conference in greater Grand Rapids, Mich. to be held June 16 – 19. The call for nominations for national officers and membership on the National Advisory Council went out on January 15.
As you can see, our second century has brought about new and exciting developments for our Society. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or suggestions.