abolish segregation

Omicron Delta Kappa

The Omicron Delta Kappa Society ΟΔΚ
Nickname: ODK
The ΟΔΚ Key
Founded: December 3, 1914 at Washington and Lee University
  • James Carl Fisher
  • Rupert Nelson Latture
  • William Mosely Brown

Members: 280,000
Circles: 310
Official Colors: Sky Blue, White, & Black
Official Flower: The Blue Delphinium
National President: Steve Bisese
Executive Director: John D. Morgan
Address: Transylvania University
421 North Broadway
Lexington, KY 40508
Omicron Delta Kappa Website

Omicron Delta Kappa, or OΔK, also known as The Circle, or more commonly ODK, is a national leadership honor society. It was founded December 3, 1914, at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, by 15 student and faculty leaders. Chapters, known as Circles, are located on over 300 college campuses. The society recognizes achievement in the five areas of scholarship; athletics; campus/ community service, social/religious activities, and campus government; journalism, speech and the mass media; and creative and performing arts. ODK is a quasi-secret society in regards to the way its members are selected and kept secret for a period of time. Membership in the Omicron Delta Kappa Society is regarded as one of the highest collegiate honors that can be awarded to an individual, along with Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa.



On the evening of December 3, 1914, the Omicron Delta Kappa Society was founded by fifteen men who gathered in a small office on the third floor of Reid Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. J. Carl Fisher first brought up the idea of creating such a society with close friend Rupert Latture. The two soon included mutual friend William Brown in the discussion, and thus these three men are referred to as the three principal founders of the society. Together with three faculty members, including the president of the University and the dean of Engineering, these men gradually selected nine additional men to affiliate with them. The complete list of the fifteen founders is as follows.

  • James Edwin Bear, ΒΘΠ, editor of the student magazine
  • William Moseley Brown, ΔΚΕ, ΦΒΚ, debater, president of YMCA
  • Carl Shaffer Davidson, ΚΣ, student instructor in civil engineering
  • Edward Parks Davis, ΚΣ, athlete
  • Edward A. Donahue, ΦΚΣ, captain of football and baseball
  • Dr. De la Warr Benjamin Easter, ΚΣ, ΦΒΚ, professor and first president of ΟΔΚ
  • James Carl Fisher, business manager of the student magazine, established campus radio station
  • Philip Pendleton Gibson, ΠΚΑ, president of student government, editor of student newspaper
  • Thomas McPheeters Glasgow, ΦΔΘ, orator, athlete
  • David Carlisle Humphreys, FIJI, professor and dean of the School of Applied Science
  • Rupert Nelson Latture, ΔΥ, ΦΒΚ, president of the YMCA
  • John Eppes Martin, ΑΧΡ, business manager of the year book
  • William C. Raftery, ΦΚΣ, athlete
  • John Purver Richardson, Jr., ΣΧ, instructor in biology
  • Dr. Henry Louis Smith, ΦΔΘ, ΦΒΚ, president of Washington and Lee University

All fifteen men were prominent leaders on campus, and they rallied around the idea that all-around leadership in college should be recognized, that representative men in all phases of college life should cooperate in worthwhile endeavor, and that outstanding students and faculty should meet on a basis of mutual interest and understanding. The founders also insisted that ODK would not simply be another society in which members would simply earn a Key and then be finished. Members of ODK would be expected to remain active in campus politics, in upholding spiritual and moral values, and in rendering service to the campus and community.

The founders decided that the society would be kept a complete secret until keys could be designed and produced. A few days after returning from the winter holiday, the keys arrived, and on January 15, 1915, each man wore the key on campus for the first time, and the first public announcement of the establishment of Omicron Delta Kappa was made in the student newspaper on that same day. As stated in the announcement, the society would be publicly known as "The Circle," because the Greek letters have secret significance known only to the members.

Women in ODK

Membership in Omicron Delta Kappa was restricted to men only during the first sixty years of the society. At the 1970 and 1972 National Conventions, the University of Alabama Circle introduced an amendment to the National Constitution to admit women into the Society. In June 1972, Title IX of the "Education Amendments Act of 1972" prohibited sex discrimination in federally assisted educational programs and amended parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Professional and honor fraternities were included in Title IX. The Special Committee on the Possible Role of Women met in January 1973 and recommended changes to the National Constitution that would abolish segregation based on gender within the Society. On March 12, 1974. the National Convention convened in New Orleans and approved the initiation of women into the Society. On that date, the first women members were recognized by the Society. They were: The Johns Hopkins University Circle-Carolyn Julia Kucinski and Diane Christine Ragosa; University of South Florida Circle - Robbie Lynn Cooney, Maria Dolores Delvalle. Roxane R. Dow. Catherine Ann Rohrbacher. Karen Diane Janzer, Linda Ann Touten, Martha Gwyn Van Deman, and Cathy Sue Welch.

Cheryl M. Hogle was elected as the first woman National President at the Convention in Knoxville, Tennessee on February 25. 1998. After serving four terms as a Faculty Province Director and two terms as National Vice President for Extension, she was elected by unanimous vote of the Convention.

On March 22, 1992, the National Convention passed a resolution authorizing the incorporation of the Society. On July 1, 1992, the Omicron Delta Kappa Society was merged into the corporation, The Omicron Delta Kappa Society, Inc.

Rivalry with Mortar Board

Prior to the passage of Title IX, outstanding women leaders were tapped into a similar society for women known as Mortar Board. Mortar Board was established just a few years after ODK, in 1918, and it stood for many similar ideals and purposes. With the passage of Title IX; however, ODK was now required to accept women into membership, and Mortar Board was required to accept men. As a result, the two organizations found themselves competing to tap many of the same outstanding student leaders on college campuses, and what once existed as two complementary societies grew into rivalry at many institutions of higher learning. While the rivalry sometimes becomes fierce during membership selection times, at other times during the year it takes a more congenial tone as the two organizations often compete in service, athletics, or other campus events.

Purpose of the Society

The Purpose of the Society is threefold:

  • First, to recognize those who have attained a high standard of efficiency in collegiate activities and to inspire others to strive for conspicuous attainments along similar lines;
  • Second, to bring together the most representative students in all phases of collegiate life and thus to create an organization which will help to mold the sentiment of the institution on questions of local and intercollegiate interest;
  • Third, to bring together members of the faculty and student body of the institution, as well as other Omicron Delta Kappa members, on a basis of mutual interest and understanding.

Membership Selection

To be eligible for membership in OΔΚ, an individual must obtain at least junior or senior academic standing. Unlike Phi Beta Kappa, which limits membership to the liberal arts & sciences, ΟΔΚ is open to students of all areas of study, but they must exhibit outstanding leadership distinction in the five areas of scholarship; athletics; campus/community service, social/religious activities, and campus government; journalism, speech and the mass media; and creative and performing arts. Members may be chosen either annually or semi-annually depending on the traditions of the individual Circles. The number of students selected each year is limited to, at the most, less than 3% of the total undergraduate population, but most Circles limit membership to less than the top one quarter of one percent of students on their respective campuses.

Unlike most college honor societies that accept all potential members who meet the selection criteria and pay the required fees, ΟΔΚ only chooses a very select group from a pool of potential and qualified students through a process known as tapping. Once a Circle votes on the individuals to be tapped for membership, the selection is kept secret from all except for those who have been chosen for initiation. Once the chosen candidates are tapped, they must also keep their selection secret until such time when their selection is revealed to the campus and community in a public ceremony. Prior to this public revealing ceremony, the new members are initiated into the bonds of the society through the private ritual of the society. At some institutions where several elite societies are in place that tap new members, such as the University of Missouri, the public revealing ceremony is combined with those other highly selective or secret societies to become a large annual Tap Day ceremony on campus.


The practice of designating Circles with Greek letter names was abandoned in 1949. Members who have passed away are said to have entered the Eternal Circle.

# Circle Installation Date College or University Status
1. Alpha December 3, 1914 Washington and Lee University active
2. Beta May 1, 1916 The Johns Hopkins University active
3. Gamma June 9, 1916 University of Pittsburgh active
4. Delta May 24, 1917 Davidson College active
5. Epsilon March 12, 1921 University of Richmond active
6. Zeta May 27, 1921 College of William and Mary active
7. Eta May 28, 1921 Centre College active
8. Theta April 29, 1922 University of Akron active
9. Iota February 21, 1924 University of Alabama active
10. Kappa March 22, 1924 Birmingham-Southern College active
11. Lambda April 12, 1924 Hampden-Sydney College active
12. Mu January 24, 1925 Emory University active
13. Nu May 4, 1925 University of Kentucky active
14. Xi May 24, 1925 Lehigh University charter withdrawn
15. Omicron May 28, 1925 University of Virginia active
16. Pi March 8, 1926 Millsaps College active
17. Rho May 26, 1926 Duke University charter withdrawn
18. Sigma February 2, 1927 University of Maryland active
19. Tau May 15, 1927 Ohio Wesleyan University active
20. Upsilon May 17, 1927 Dickinson College active
21. Phi May 25, 1927 Rhodes College active
22. Chi May 29, 1927 University of South Carolina active
23. Psi February 17, 1928;
Rechartered April 5, 1997
Allegheny College active
24. Omega May 22, 1928 Auburn University active
25. Alpha Alpha May 19, 1929 University of the South active
26. Alpha Delta May 25, 1929 George Washington University active
27. Alpha Epsilon March 22, 1930 Muhlenberg College active
28. Alpha Eta May 28, 1930 Georgia Institute of Technology active
29. Alpha Zeta May 28, 1930 Tulane University active
30. Alpha Theta March 7, 1931 University of Cincinnati active
31. Alpha Iota March 23, 1931 Rollins College active
32. Alpha Kappa February 24, 1933 Washington University active
33. Alpha Lambda March 4, 1933 Randolph-Macon College active
34. Alpha Mu May 10, 1933 Denison University active
35. Alpha Beta May 12, 1933 Drake University active
36. Alpha Nu May 12, 1933 Louisiana State University active
37. Alpha Xi May 12, 1933 University of Missouri active
38. Alpha Omicron June 2, 1933 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University active
39. Alpha Pi March 5, 1934 University of Denver active
40. Alpha Rho April 28, 1934 Vanderbilt University active
41. Alpha Sigma May 31, 1934 Miami University charter withdrawn
42. Alpha Tau April 9, 1935 Westminster College active
43. Alpha Upsilon April 29, 1935 University of Georgia active
44. Alpha Phi February 3, 1936 University of Mississippi active
45. Alpha Chi May 22, 1937 Mississippi State University active
46. Alpha Psi November 12, 1937 Washington College active
47. Alpha Omega March 12, 1938 American University charter withdrawn
48. Beta Alpha May 13, 1939 Wake Forest University active
49. Beta Beta June 2, 1939 University of Arkansas charter withdrawn
50. Beta Gamma February 15, 1942 Albion College active
51. Beta Delta September 19, 1942 Carnegie-Mellon University charter withdrawn
52. Beta Epsilon May 14, 1943 University of Louisville active
53. Beta Zeta May 10, 1946 Bucknell University active
54. Beta Eta June 9, 1946 Wayne State University charter withdrawn
55. Beta Theta May 8, 1947 Case Western Reserve charter withdrawn
56. Beta Iota May 10, 1947 University of Iowa active
57. Beta Kappa May 11, 1947 University of Kansas active
58. Beta Lambda May 23, 1947 Marshall University active
59. Beta Mu June 3, 1947 Grove City College active
60. Beta Nu November 16, 1947 University of Tennessee active
61. Beta Xi May 23, 1948 Beloit College charter withdrawn
62. Beta Omicron January 18, 1949 Louisiana Tech University active
63. Beta Pi February 18, 1949 Centenary College active
64. Beta Rho February 25, 1949 Hillsdale College active
65. Beta Sigma March 9, 1949 University of Delaware active
66. Beta Tau May 22, 1949 Bowling Green State University active
67. Beta Upsilon June 2, 1949 University of Miami active
68. April 22, 1949 Bradley University active
69. May 6, 1950 New Jersey Institute of Technology active
70. May 13, 1950 Drury University active
71. Seminole May 13, 1950 Florida State University active
72. May 20, 1950 University of Nebraska at Omaha active
73. November 16, 1950 Marietta College active
74. April 6, 1951 Samford University active
75. April 7, 1951 Florida Southern College active
76. November 10, 1951 Ohio University active
77. March 28, 1952 Baldwin-Wallace College active
78. June 4, 1952 Colorado State University charter withdrawn
79. May 14, 1953 Stetson University active
80. April 4, 1954 University of Redlands active
81. Sachem May 8, 1954 Oklahoma State University active
82. Kalon-Kixioc May 10, 1954 St. Lawrence University active
83. May 16, 1954 University of Wyoming active
84. May 26, 1954 The University of Southern Mississippi active
85. University Park May 15, 1955 Pennsylvania State University active
86. May 21, 1955 University of Oklahoma active
87. May 22, 1955 University of Hawaii charter withdrawn
88. May 22, 1955 Willamette University charter withdrawn
89. December 9, 1956 University of Missouri-Kansas City active
90. March 24, 1957 University of South Dakota active
91. May 17, 1958 Western Michigan University charter withdrawn
92. December 12, 1959 Washington State University charter withdrawn
93. March 1, 1960 University of Louisiana at Monroe active
94. April 23, 1960 Central Methodist University active
95. April 24, 1960 University of Houston active
96. April 25, 1960 Mississippi College active
97. May 21, 1960 Westminster College active
98. May 21, 1960 Whittier College active
99. May 28, 1960 Wagner College active
100. April 29, 1961 University of Tulsa active
101. May 21, 1961 Purdue University active
102. April 14, 1962 Hiram College active
103. May 12, 1962 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign charter withdrawn
104. May 13, 1962 Augustana College active
105. May 19, 1962 Baylor University active
106. April 21, 1963 Pittsburg State University active
107. May 17, 1963 University of Memphis active
108. May 19, 1963 Oklahoma Baptist University active
109. May 25, 1963 McDaniel College active
110. May 26, 1963 Michigan State University charter withdrawn
111. May 26, 1963 West Virginia Wesleyan College active
112. April 19, 1964 Erskine College active
113. October 22, 1965 Kent State University active
114. May 7, 1966 Illinois State University charter withdrawn
115. May 19, 1966 University of Texas at Austin charter withdrawn
116. May 12, 1967 Alma College active
117. April 5, 1968 Georgia State University active
118. May 17, 1968 University of Florida active
119. May 11, 1969 University of Colorado at Boulder charter withdrawn
120. January 22, 1970 Ohio Northern University active
121. February 15, 1970 Murray State University active
122. May 20, 1970 University of South Florida active
123. March 26, 1971 University of New Orleans active
124. April 18, 1971 Ferris State University active
125. April 24, 1971 Valdosta State University active
126. April 24, 1971 Western Kentucky University active
127. May 2, 1971 Wichita State University active
128. May 23, 1971 Delta State University active
129. December 10, 1971 Louisiana College active
130. January 29, 1972 Texas Tech University active
131. February 11, 1972 North Carolina Wesleyan College active
132. April 22, 1972 Houston Baptist University active
133. April 24, 1972 Westmont College active
134. May 20, 1972 University of Tampa active
135. May 21, 1972 Northern Illinois University charter withdrawn
136. May 26, 1973 Troy State University active
137. April 29, 1974 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire active
138. May 6, 1974 Olivet College active
139. May 25, 1975 University of Central Florida active
140. May 9, 1975 William Carey College active
141. May 30, 1975 Tennessee Technological University active
142. October 26, 1975 The College of Charleston charter withdrawn
143. November 21, 1975 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University active
144. November 22, 1975 University of Alabama at Birmingham active
145. December 15, 1975 Salisbury University active
146. February 8, 1976 Elmhurst College active
147. March 6, 1976 Rider University active
148. March 6, 1976 Wittenberg University active

Notable members

Tapped for student membership

Tapped for honorary membership


External links

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