I provided the following report to the Society’s Board of Directors and the Foundation’s Board of Trustees during our winter meetings in Baltimore, MD this past weekend (January 11 – 13, 2013):
It is hard to believe that six months have passed since we were last together in Charlotte, NC.
I am pleased to provide a report on our Society’s work to date, thanks in no small part to our hard-working Headquarters Staff and dedicated army of volunteers.
I am particularly indebted to the nearly 50 volunteers that chose to give so graciously of their time and accept my invitation to serve on the various committees, councils and working groups that provide invaluable service to advance our Society’s work.
The 15 members of National Advisory Council (NAC), under the leadership of Dr. Chon Glover, have undertaken a number of important initiatives to date through their service on these various committees. The exceptional talent assembled on these committees have already begun to leverage their collective talents and energies to further our Society’s work.
I will touch on a few highlights of our volunteer leaders work below.
In Charlotte, I announced the appointment of a small working group, Chaired by National Student Vice President Steve Binninger, tasked with identifying national organizations which share a mutual interest in any of the five phases of campus life. I am pleased that NAC Member Katharine Amato, ODK Foundation Trustee Michael Giles and At-Large Board Member Dr. Melvinia King agreed to serve as members of the ad hoc committee on strategic alliances.
Already the work of this group has begun to forge new strategic partnerships with organizations that celebrate and value our Society’s five phases of campus life. In early December, we executed a memorandum of understanding with Teach for America (TFA) that outlines a mutually beneficial relationship between our two organizations while providing tangible benefits to ΟΔΚ members. Additionally, the committee has engaged in preliminary conversations with the Gallup organization and their Strengths Quest educational platform and, thanks to the good work of ODK’s Director of Development and Alumni Engagement Bobby Ann Stanton, secured 500 access codes for participants to use as part of this spring’s drive-in meetings nation-wide (a $5,000 value). Additionally, as part of this preliminary agreement, Gallup’s National Director of Institutional Development and Higher Education Partnerships Ramon Hill will facilitate training for the Board of Directors as part of our meeting in Baltimore this weekend.
I continue to believe that there is no better way to ensure ΟΔΚ’s continued viability as the premier leadership honor society than by identifying organizations that share our desire to honor the five phases of campus life upon which our Society was founded.
THE CIRCLE 2.0
Earlier this fall, I appointed The Circle’s “first-ever” (at least in recent memory) “Editorial Board,” charged with dictating the “tone and direction” of the publication. The Board considers recent news and opinion trends, future content as well as contribute to the writing, researching and editing of the publication.
The members of The Circle’s Editorial Board include Sowmya Challa (Graduate Student, Indiana State University), Stephen Hundley (Student, Georgia College & State University), Patricia Riippa (Alumni), Buck Ryan (Faculty Member, University of Kentucky), Kaleigh Warwick (Student, Samford University), and Leslie Werden (Faculty Officer, Morningside College).
Additionally, with the printing of the most recent (winter) issue of The Circle, and thanks to the diligent work of ΟΔΚ’s Director of Communications and Programs Tracy Lyons, who provides invaluable leadership as The Circle’s Editor-in-Chief, we were able to cut production costs in half by contracting with a new printer through a competitive bid process. The quality of The Circle – both in material form and content – has been greatly enhanced and is a showcase piece for our Society.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SEARCH
In November, I announced the appointment of the search committee to identify ΟΔΚ’s next Executive Director. As I indicated at the time, at such a critically important time – both in our history and as we prepare to celebrate our centennial – identifying and hiring someone who can provide the energy, innovation and passion for our Society’s work is of paramount importance.
I am especially grateful to Dr. Steve Bisese, Vice President for Student Development at the University of Richmond and Past National President, for agreeing to lead the search to find ΟΔΚ’s next chief executive. The seven-member search committee, in addition to Dr. Bisese, includes Gene Vance, President of the ODK Foundation, Dr. Melvinia King, At-Large Member of the Board of Directors and Faculty Secretary to the Circle Morehouse College, Dr. Kathy Smith, Member of the National Advisory Council and Faculty Advisor to the Circle at Ball State, Russ Chambliss, Foundation Trustee, Hillary Mintz, two-time At-Large Member of the Board of Directors and Steven Binninger, ODK’s National Student Vice President.
The search committee will begin reviewing candidate’s credentials in the next several weeks and will schedule in-person interviews March 24 – 26, 2013 in Baltimore, MD with finalists. I anticipate the committee providing me with its recommendations shortly thereafter so that the Board can select ΟΔΚ’s next Executive Director as part of our regularly scheduled meeting in April. I anticipate the new Executive Director to begin work in July 1, 2013.
Planning for our Society’s centennial celebration continues in earnest. Dr. Mike Nichols of Transylvania University graciously agreed to pour over decades-old artifacts and photographs and compile an abridged commemorative text honoring our Society’s first 100 years. I anticipate a draft of the text will be available sometime this spring.
The centennial celebration, scheduled to take place June 11 – 13, 2014 on the campus of Washington and Lee University is being planned by exceptional Lexington-based volunteers including Dr. Roger Crockett (Faculty Advisor, Washington and Lee University), Lew John (Dean of Students Emeritus, Washington and Lee University) who served as Chair of the Society’s 75th Anniversary Celebration, Dr. Linda Hooks (Faculty Secretary, Washington and Lee University) and Brian Shaw (President, The George C. Marshall Foundation), to name a few.
I am pleased that Lt. General John Knapp, Former Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and Former Mayor of the City of Lexington, has agreed to serve as Chair of ΟΔΚ’s Centennial Celebration.
HEADQUARTERS BUILDING AQUISTION
Of course our return to Lexington, VA in 2010 provided ODK with a permanent headquarters building on the campus of our Society’s founding. While the terms of the Society’s purchase of the building from Washington and Lee University were favorable then, National Counsel Bill Wallace was instrumental in renegotiating the terms of the original agreement earlier this fall.
The renegotiated terms coincided with an initial payment of $250,000 towards the principal owed to Washington and Lee University. With that initial payment, more than half of the building’s repayment on the original loan has been paid. We are indebted to the work of the ODK Foundation, and particularly Past Foundation President Bill Johnston, for their leadership in securing pledges and gifts to make the headquarters building purchase a reality.
WE ARE ODK
In Charlotte, I announced the launch of the “We Are ODK” blog – a virtual space in which we could provide our members with updates on the Board’s work and the life of our Society. Since its launch, the blog has had nearly 4,000 visitors, with blog entries concurrently posted to the Society’s Facebook page, shared on Twitter and announced through LinkedIn. Interim Executive Director Ken Taylor, Awards Committee Chair Dr. Kathy Smith, and ODK Fellow Kelly Jezierski have each contributed blog entries.
I plan to spend part of our Friday afternoon together laying out some of the challenges (and opportunities) that lie ahead for our Society as we approach our centennial. I share some of my thoughts with you here in the hopes that you will come to Baltimore with some thoughts of your own on how we might move the Society forward.
- Membership Growth Strategy – Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball describes how the Oakland A’s used sophisticated analytics to identify and sign baseball players which resulted in the Oakland A’s being competitive with other “large market” teams. As was outlined in the Society’s Membership Task Force Report (summer 2011, Washington, DC), ΟΔΚ has not embraced nor espoused to develop a strategy for growth. Membership numbers have largely remained at 8,000 new initiates annually. I know National Vice President Michelle Burke has begun to give some thought to what we could glean from data for which we have access to. I believe the Board needs to consider all available information (data) in order to develop an efficient growth strategy moving forward.
- Budget Priorities – New National Treasurer Darwin Jones will begin to lay out the FY 2014 budget while we are together in Baltimore. In conversations with Darwin over the past several weeks, we agree that clear programmatic priorities should be articulated before real numbers are attributed to the FY 2014 budget. Before arriving in Baltimore, I would ask you to give some thought to one or two top priorities for the coming year (excluding the centennial celebration, which unto itself remains a central focus of our human and financial capital).
- The National Convention – Looking beyond 2014’s centennial celebration in Lexington, VA, the Society’s Biennial National Convention has historically been a significant financial drain on otherwise limited financial resources. While recent changes in the way we have hosted our National Convention (from a hotel-based venue to a campus-based venue) have resulted in some cost savings, I believe further examination is needed which examines the timing and purpose of our biennial gathering.
- Board Development and the NAC – I have shared with Dr. Chon Glover, who has ably shepherded the work of the Governance Committee during these past several months, that some thought should be given to truly making the National Advisory Council (NAC) a feeder for future Board leaders. I believe that populating the Society’s various committees and work groups with NAC members is an important first step in realizing these individuals’ potential but more should be done to formalize this process.
- Rethinking the ΟΔΚ Foundation’s “Management Fee” – I have had preliminary conversations with Foundation President Gene Vance, Foundation Treasurer Rich Pirrotta, Bobby Ann Stanton and Ken Taylor on reframing the “fee” that is paid to the Society annually by the Foundation as a “programming grant” which supports programmatic initiatives such as the ΟΔΚ Fellow Program, Regional Drive-in Meetings and Faculty Officer Trainings.
THE LAST WORD
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge and thank Ken Taylor for his devoted and responsible stewardship of the Society as Interim Executive Director over these past several months. Ken cares deeply for ΟΔΚ and this is evident in all that he does on behalf of our Society.
I am excited by our work to date and am grateful to each of you for your leadership and service to our Society. It continues to be among my greatest honors to serve our Society alongside each of you. Thank you!
Special thanks to Faculty Secretary Anthony Butler and the University of Baltimore Circle for hosting the Board’s winter meeting in campus. We had a wonderful time in “Charm City.” Go Ravens!