University of Alabama


About the Circle

The Iota Circle of ODK, the 8th Circle of the Society, was founded at The University of Alabama on February 21, 1924. New members are inducted into the Iota Circle every spring as part of the Honors Day Tapping Ceremony on the Mound, a tradition at UA since the early 1900s. A formal initiation into ODK and the Iota Circle is held at the end of the spring semester.

In order to be considered for active membership in the Iota Circle, candidates must complete the online UA Honors Societies application in the spring semester. Membership in Omicron Delta Kappa is granted to those who demonstrate leadership achievements in one of five phases of campus life: (1) Athletics, (2) Campus or Community Service, Social and Religious Activities, and Campus Government, (3) Creative and Performing Arts, (4) Journalism, Speech and Mass Media, or (5) Scholarship. Undergraduate students who are juniors or seniors and rank in the upper 35 percent of their class, Graduate students, Faculty and staff, or Alumni who graduated more than five years ago, are invited to apply for membership.

The Iota Circle at The University of Alabama has provided the Society:
• Three (3) national presidents – Frank Rose, former President of UA
• Several officers and board members of the National ODK Foundation – Joab Thomas and Milford Espy
• The Alabama amendment to the ODK constitution that allowed for the admission of women to the Society


Membership in ODK is a mark of the highest distinction and honor, with an emphasis placed on the development of the whole person, both as a member of the college community and as a contributor to a better society. The Members of the Iota Circle are active on campus and in the community. Two signature programs hosted annually by the Iota Circle are the Living Legend Award Reception and the Foy Sportsmanship Trophy Presentation.

Living Legend Award Reception – The ODK Living Legend Award was created by the Iota Circle to foster, by oral history, the transition from one UA generation to the next. In this tradition, each year in the fall semester, the Iota Circle hosts a reception in honor the Living Legend recepient. At the reception, the Living Legend recipient speaks to the current membership on a topic of their choice, but generally about the life and times of the University when they were a student or their time as a faculty or staff member at UA, thereby, fostering community between the student members of ODK and the faculty/staff, honorary, and “honoris causa” members.

Foy Sportsmanship Trophy – To encourage sportsmanship and goodwill, student leaders at The University of Alabama and Auburn University agreed in 1948 to sponsor a traveling trophy through their respective circles of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) National Leadership Honor Society. In 1978, upon his retirement, the trophy was named in honor of Dr. James E. Foy, a graduate of The University of Alabama, and former Dean of Students at Auburn University.

As a Senior Honors Society, the Iota Circle also participates in the Honors Day Tapping Ceremony on the Mound. Annually, the Iota Circle presents four prestigious awards and the recipients are recognized at Honors Day.

The Frances S. Summersell Award – Given annually by the Iota Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa to those whose vision, beneficence and compassion have enhanced the educational mission of The University of Alabama or have improved the quality of life in the State of Alabama.

The Walter R. Guyton Student Service Award – A member of the faculty or staff who has made a lasting contribution to the quality of student life.

The Living Legends Award – Developed in the mid 1990’s by the Circle to recognize an individual that has represented the university in many diverse ways. This individual embodies the values, ideals and character for which ODK stands.

The Outstanding Freshman Award – Each year ODK chooses up to two freshman students who have made extraordinary contributions to UA. And/or the community through his or her acidic and extracurricular activities.

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