The 2020-21 academic year was unlike anything that I have experienced in my decades as a higher education professional. The COVID-19 crisis impacted our member institutions in terms of health, instruction, and finances. Campus climates were influenced by debates and discussions about the future of America. There was a sense of great unease as classes started last fall. However, by the end of the spring term, a sense of achievement and hope for the future returned to our colleges and universities – and to Omicron Delta Kappa.
As the new Board Chair, I am pleased to announce that several other individuals have joined me in service to the Society at the national level. Sandy Thurmond (University of Alabama – Birmingham, 1987) has been selected as board chair-elect. My predecessor and great partner, Sally Albrecht (Rollins College, 1975), is now serving as immediate past board chair. Jeff Edwards (Washington and Lee University, 1981), Darwin Jones (University at Albany, 2004), and Moneque Walker-Pickett (University of Miami, 1994) will continue to serve in their respective roles as national counsel, national treasurer, and national diversity officer. Melissa Cancio (Florida International University, 2016) is now serving as national student vice chair. Tara Singer (University of Louisville, 1981) continues to serve as O∆K’s president and chief executive officer and will do so through her retirement in June 2023.
One of the most important tasks that the Society completed in FY 2021 was creating a new strategic plan. The plan, entitled Leading in the 21st Century: FY 2022-24 Strategic Plan, acknowledges that recognition and connection are the two primary reasons individuals join and stay connected to Omicron Delta Kappa. In support of future growth of the Society, the plan has also identified the following three goals:
- Provide an excellent, relevant campus member and circle experience
- Build a more diverse and inclusive organization
- Champion, recognize, and celebrate collaborative and inclusive leadership
The plan’s focus is to continue to stabilize the organization – particularly in light of changing collegiate demographics and the stresses brought on by the pandemic. The corresponding objectives and details of the plan may be found at odk.org/strategic-plan/. The Board of Trustees will soon share a quarterly scorecard, reflecting the metrics used to evaluate progress toward completing the plan’s goals and objectives.
One of the other big focuses of the last fiscal year was preparing for the public announcement of the Society’s first-ever comprehensive campaign. I am pleased to share that Omicron Delta Kappa has secured more than $4.5m toward its $5.6m goal (increased from the previous goal of $5.1m). The campaign has secured the Society’s largest single contribution to date in the form of a gift to renovate, maintain, and preserve O∆K’s National Headquarters, located in the historic Lexington, Virginia, train station. In recognition of the Richard S. Johnson (University of Richmond, 2005) family’s generous donation, the facility has been formally renamed the Joyce E. and Richard S. Johnson Center for Leadership and Omicron Delta Kappa Society and Educational Foundation, Inc. National Headquarters.
The goal for the campaign is to conclude on June 30, 2023. To support the campaign, the Society has launched its planned giving website at https://odkheritage.org/. If you would like to participate in this fundraising effort, don’t hesitate to contact President and Chief Executive Officer Tara S. Singer at (540) 458-5340 or [email protected]. Details about the campaign initiatives and fundraising priorities may be found at https://odk.org/campaign/.
Please read below for more recent updates about Omicron Delta Kappa.
- The membership situation for the Society in FY 2021 was much better than had been expected. The original goal for paid membership was 5,500. A total of 7,065 paid members were initiated in the year.
- There were 302 individuals who registered for this year’s National Leadership Conference, an entirely online event. We are hopeful that we will be able to have an in-person conference in early June 2022. Volunteers for the 2022 conference are currently being sought. If you are interested in a conference leadership role, contact Vice President for Membership and Operations Tim Reed at [email protected]
- With exceeding the membership goal, substantial annual fund contributions, and receipt and forgiveness of the Payroll Protection Program loans, O∆K was in an excellent financial position at the end of the year with putting more than $200,000 in the reserve. As of June 30, the endowment is at $2,614,414.
- The 2021 National Day of Giving was a tremendous success with $32,173 in new donations plus $16,705 in matching gift contributions. The 2021 effort also brought in 62 first-time donors.
- A focus of this year’s fundraising efforts was the Key Fund, which supports collegiate members from historically underrepresented and marginalized populations. More than $13,000 was raised in the last year to support this initiative. As another expression of the Society’s commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity, resources to assist our members in their leadership efforts in these areas has been posted on the website at odk.org/get-involved/dei-resources/.
- Several new members have been elected as members of the Society’s board. The new trustees include Mike Benson (Southern Utah University, 2012), Wes Fugate (Centre College, 2001), Andy MacQueen (Rhodes College, 1986), Tripp Perrin (University of Richmond, 2014), John Roberson (Campbell University, 2017), Jeff Senese (St. Leo University, 2018), Mary E. Stuart (University of Virginia, 2019), Ryan Upshaw (University of Mississippi, 2005), and Montressa Washington (Johns Hopkins University, 1995). Profiles of our new trustees, many of whom are honoris causa, alumni, or faculty/staff initiates, are on the website.
- Our website received a significant refresh in recent months. One of the great features is the membership recruitment video on the home page. The spring/summer issue of The Circle has been distributed electronically and may also be found on the website. The decision was made to have a very limited print-run for financial reasons.
- The National Headquarters has two new full-time employees. Ellen Pennine is the Society’s new financial services manager. Jamie Bouldin (Stephen F. Austin State University, 2004) started earlier this month as the director of membership services. Jamie is a former long-time circle advisor and is a recipient of the Robert L. Morlan and Robert Bishop Outstanding Circle Advisor Award. She is also a recipient of the Eldridge W. Roark, Jr. Meritorious Service Award.
- The Talladega College Circle was installed on April 21, 2021. The circle at this HBCU institution was the 424th chartered in the Society’s history. The chartering ceremony for the High Point University Circle has been set for this fall. There are several other circles already planning their installations in the 2021-22 academic year.
On behalf of my fellow trustees and the National Headquarters team, thank you for your continuing interest in and devotion to Omicron Delta Kappa. If you ever have any questions or concerns about the direction of the Society, please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] I know that we, together, will continue to advance the mission and ideals of O∆K, and I appreciate your service.
Yours in Leadership,
Willie L. Banks, Jr.
Chair, Board of Trustees
Omicron Delta Kappa Society and Educational Foundation, Inc.