The structure of higher education is changing, and nowhere is that more evident than at Norwich University, the home of Omicron Delta Kappa’s 384th circle, chartered June 16, 2015. America’s first military college, founded in 1819, Norwich now matriculates more than 2,100 undergraduates at its beautiful brick and mortar campus in Northfield, Vt., and more than 1,300 online graduate students, who convene each June for a capstone residency conference.
As online education has become more prevalent, ΟΔΚ regularly receives requests to charter Circles for distance learning students, but the applications were not found to meet the Society’s criteria of the ΟΔΚ Idea: student-faculty engagement and commitment to recognizing leadership within the five phases of campus life. As ΟΔΚ embarks on its second century, the Board of Directors has debated how to become more inclusive in recognizing campus leadership, while maintaining the integrity of our founders’ intent.
Norwich University was the first institution to offer a clear plan in their Circle application to engage graduate online students with on-campus undergraduate leaders, and with faculty dedicated to leadership development across the disciplines. The membership committee and headquarters staff reviewed this plan and worked with faculty officers Dan Alcorn and Dr. Stacie Morgan to refine the charter petition which was approved by the Board of Directors. The first phase of the Norwich University Circle’s growth began with the Chartering Ceremony, which was held in conjunction with the Graduate Capstone Residency Conference. Following a Class Ring Ceremony, a long-standing tradition for all students at Norwich, seven academic honor societies induct the graduate students in the various disciplines. Omicron Delta Kappa, given its inclusive nature of recognizing leadership across academic interests, was the eighth and final group to induct members at the ceremony. Distinguished students, alumni, and faculty from the interdisciplinary Master of Science in Leadership were included in the charter.
Over the course of the next two years, the faculty officers at Norwich will be selecting undergraduate student leaders for membership and will create on-campus traditions for leadership development and recognition. One firm program in the works will engage the graduate student inductees as mentors and leadership instructors for the undergraduate students. On-campus and online faculty will also be involved, furthering the ΟΔΚ Idea. Omicron Delta Kappa will play an important and intentional role in fostering and recognizing leadership at all levels of the higher education experience, and we are pleased Norwich University is helping ΟΔΚ change the face of what we consider to be campus leadership.