VP of Student Affairs reactivates Omicron Delta Kappa honor society on campus

Emily Carmichael, Print News Editor

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Faculty and a newly selected group of 31 students gathered on April 23 at the Tulane University President’s house at 2 Audubon Place to mark the reactivation of Tulane’s Omicron Delta Kappa Circle.

Omicron Delta Kappa is a highly regarded national leadership honor society. The function of each circle varies from university to university, emphasizing different aspects of leadership and scholarship. Tulane plans to use this incarnation of ODK as an advisory council, allowing student leaders to give direct input to Tulane leadership, including Newcomb-Tulane College Dean James MacLaren, Vice President of Student Affairs Dusty Porter and President Michael Fitts.

ODK went inactive in 2012 due to department restructuring in the office of Student Affairs after 82 active years on Tulane’s campus. This year Porter, an ODK alumnus from Emory University, saw an opportunity to reactivate Tulane’s circle.

“[Porter’s] vision was not just an organization which validated leadership,” said John Nonnamaker, associate vice president of Student Affairs and chapter advisor for ODK. “He really wanted to create a chapter, or what they call a circle, that would serve an advisory capacity to the university. Especially in light of the undergraduate task force that was going on, it was trying to create another vehicle for student input.”

In order to be selected for membership, students must be in the top 35 percent of their class and demonstrate leadership in different areas, such as scholarship, athletics, community service, social and religious activities, and the arts. Nonnamaker sought nominations who demonstrated such leadership from 11 different departments. Everyone in the inaugural classes received at least two nominations, surpassing the minimum of one.  

“These are students who exemplify balance, in the sense that they have made their mark [on campus] while making their marks,” Nonnamaker said. “How did they do that? What can we learn from that in structuring the undergraduate experience?”

Rising senior and new ODK member Samantha Patel said she was pleased to be selected for the circle.

“I was incredibly excited and honored to be selected for ODK,” Patel said. “Especially as there are only about 30 of us, knowing that I had been chosen was really amazing and humbling.”

Rising senior and new ODK member Daniel Gore said the circle could facilitate the communication between students and the university.

“It will be a great channel of student opinion for what has to change on campus,” Gore said. “Things could actually happen to rectify the current faults of Tulane as long as they are willing to listen and do something from it. What I hope to do is be able to serve as kind of a funnel for other people’s opinion about what has to change on campus.”

Nonnamaker said the society will bring breadth to the discussion of changes on campus.

“It’s a way for us to have a broad range of students that we might not normally see because their commitments may prevent them from being more involved in student government or other types of ways in which students are at the table,” Nonnamaker said. “This is kind of creating a new table.”