Monday, December 15, 2014

The University of New Orleans
Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa
Initiates 40 New Members

The University of New Orleans Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society initiated 40 new members on Friday. Approximately 100 people turned out for the candlelight ceremony held in the University Center. Film and Theater Department Chair David Hoover served as keynote speaker.

"I wasn't expecting the ceremony to be so formal. It was beautiful!" said Que Shawnta Dillworth, who graduates in May with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Sociology.

Membership in the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society is a high honor, said Edie Talley, president of the UNO Circle. The national honor society, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, is one of four top-tier honor societies in the nation. Notable ODK alumni include: Peyton Manning, Archie Manning, Howard Gardner; Hillary Clinton; Margaret Thatcher; Joe Biden; Jimmy Carter; Michael Bloomberg; Sheryl Crow; Bob Hope; and Walter Cronkite.

On campus, ODK is a selective organization and members "demonstrate the highest commitment to leadership," Talley said. Membership is open to faculty, staff, alumni and graduate students, as well as undergraduate students.

Members are student leaders who exemplify leadership in scholarship; athletics; campus or community service; social or religious activities and campus government; journalism, speech and the mass media; and creative and performing arts. Criteria call for: "exemplary character, responsible leadership and service in campus and community life, superior scholarship, genuine fellowship and consecration of democratic ideals."

"To have 40 new initiates is extraordinary. It speaks to the quality of our students, faculty, and staff that so many students qualified, not only academically, but as leaders. ODK honors more than grade point average. It honors leadership, and our members are selected for their achievements as leaders. For that reason, only juniors, seniors, and graduate students are considered for membership. We have some very accomplished people in our Circle and we just added 40 more. I'm honored to be included in their company."

Highest Honors

The UNO students and recent alumni inducted Friday to ODK are a diverse and talented group, including a designer named a "Person to Watch" by New Orleans Magazine, a past senator of UNO's Student Government, a learning specialist at Isidore Newman School, an aspiring doctor, an aspiring diplomat, and a plethora of campus leaders.

Thirty-three ODK members graduated over the summer or are slated to graduate this fall, Talley said. All were recognized at the ceremony. Graduating seniors Kimberly Herring and Rachel Williams received special honor cords that they will wear at commencement on Thursday.

Top Awards

The honor circle bestowed awards on leading members and faculty:

Circle's Legacy Award

Theater Professor David Hoover received the Circle's Legacy Award for continuous inspiration and dedication to student leadership. Hoover is the Chair of the Film and Theater Department and the Director of the MFA Performance Program.

Outstanding Faculty Award

Fine Arts Professor Cheryl Hayes, who serves as chair of the UNO Fine Arts Department, received the Circle's Outstanding Faculty Award "for mentoring and teaching Circle's members and encouraging students to develop as leaders," Talley said.

Distinguished Service Award

ODK Past President Vincent Prior received the Circle's Distinguished Service Award "for his outstanding and unwavering dedication and service to the Circle's ideals and its members," Talley said.

Prior, who works as First-Year Academic Adviser in the Office of Enrollment Services, earned his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Math Education from UNO in 2012 and will receive his Masters of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with a focus in Higher Education Administration, on Thursday. 

Outstanding Member Award

Current ODK member Cory Lang received the Outstanding Member Award "for exceptional dedication to and participation in the Circle's activities this semester," Talley said.

A Stunning Ceremony

The traditional ODK ceremony honored the circle's history on campus, which dates to 1971, observers said. It also included a solemn reading of initiation rites and recital of the Circle's pledge by initiates to adhere to the ideals of the society. (Because membership is lifelong, initiates pledge to uphold the ideals beyond college and throughout their lives.) As president, Talley then described the five "Major Phases of College Life" recognized by the honor society while Charles McMasters, chapter vice president, lit a pillar candle to represent each of the five "Pillars of Leadership:"
• Scholarship
• Athletics
• Campus or Community Service, Social, Religious Activities, and Campus Government
• Journalism, Speech, and the Mass Media
• Creative and Performing Arts

Talley explained the significance of the "key" which designed to represent the society's ideals. ODK's emblem, the Laurel Crowned Circle, stands for success achieved in worthy undertakings, Talley said.

The Key's circular head symbolizes the all-around and inclusive nature of the organization, Talley, while five stars on the upper bar represent the five major phases of college life, and the number 1914 on a lower bar indicates the year in which the Society was founded.

"You have been chosen to wear this emblem of distinction because of your loyalty and devotion to the University of New Orleans and to the things that are fine and true in life," she said as members signed an official circle register and received pins and certificates.

Seeking Alumni Support

The UNO Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa has long been a mainstay on campus and has proudly rebuilt membership following setbacks incurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Now, the honor society is seeking to expand its reach and its impact, Talley said. ODK is looking for alumni members to help new members transition from college and graduate school to career.

"So many of our members are on their way out the door," Talley said. "We're really trying to grow the organization and get alumni involved in the post-graduation experience."  


Read More

Omicron Delta Kappa
UNO Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa
Honorary Organizations at UNO
UNO Chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa Welcomes New Members