Omicron Delta Kappa held its first national convention in 1920 in Baltimore. By 1920, O∆K had four circles located on the campuses of Washington and Lee, Johns Hopkins, Pittsburgh, and Davidson. While our modern conventions cover three days, the first only lasted one. As is still our practice, the first convention included the election of the National President and other officers.
From 1920 to 1925, O∆K held conventions annually. However, complications of cost and coordination made hosting an annual convention challenging. At the 1925 convention in Williamsburg, our leadership made the decision to hold conventions on a biennial basis instead. The years during World War II were the only period in which conventions were not held.
For many decades, conventions were held during the academic year. The 1968 Atlanta convention was held in the days immediately after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The delegates passed a resolution, which recognized, in part, Dr. King’s “unparalleled contribution to the peace and freedom of his people, his country, and of his world.” The resolution also acknowledged Dr. King’s “outstanding and ceaseless efforts on behalf of human dignity and justice are representative of the devotion to high ideals that are basic to the Omicron Delta Kappa tradition.”
The first formal discussions about potentially initiating women into O∆K were also held at the 1968 convention. In 1970, the University of Alabama Circle proposed an amendment to the constitution to include women in our organization. The “Alabama Amendment” was defeated at the 1972 convention, but it was ultimately approved at the 1974 meeting.
In 2018, we have the special occasion to celebrate the 50th biennial convention in O∆K’s history in Nashville. We already have several confirmed speakers to announce soon. Our host institution, Belmont University, and the circles at Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, and Vanderbilt are already making plans to host a high-quality experience for our collegiate members, circle advisors, and volunteers.
Through the years, in addition to elections, conventions have also included votes on constitutional and bylaws amendments, conversations on the structure of our organization, and discussions on matters of circle administration. Also, our conventions have always included opportunities for fellowship, friendship, and collaboration between our members.
Modern conventions are held during the summer months to help contain costs by having the delegates stay on campus. Regardless of the timing of our national gatherings, these meetings always reflect the concerns of the times and planning for the future of O∆K. I am looking forward to presiding over our 50th Biennial Convention and Leadership Conference next summer. Please consider joining us in Nashville, May 31 – June 3, in 2018!
Yours in O∆K,
Matthew W. Clifford, Ed.D.
O∆K National President