Omicron Delta Kappa: The National Leadership Honor Society

Omicron Delta Kappa: The National Leadership Honor Society

Melissa W.

Tomorrow is Election Day in the United States and it is shaping up to be the most important election in many voters' lifetimes. When Americans head to the polls on November 3rd, 2020, they’re looking to elect a leader. Omicron Delta Kappa is no stranger to leadership -- it’s in their name! ODK is The National Leadership Honor Society.

Founded in 1914 at Washington and Lee University by 15 students, faculty, and administrators with the belief that leadership should be recognized at the collegiate level. ODK is the oldest leadership honor society in the US and states on its website that “the motives which guided the founders sprang from the desire to bring together one body for the general good of the institution, leaders from all parts of the college or university community.” 

The Mission of ODK is to “identify, honor, and develop leaders in the collegiate and community life; encourage collaboration among students, faculty, staff, and alumni to advance leadership; and to promote and publicize our ideals.” The vision of Omicron Delta Kappa is, “as the most respected and effective leadership honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa strives for excellence in leadership and character development.” The Society lives by its ideals, which include:

  • Scholarship - to strive for excellence in academics and pursue lifelong learning
  • Service - to answer the call for action from one’s community or country
  • Integrity - to align one’s values and beliefs with behaviors and speech
  • Character - to distinguish oneself for the good of humanity
  • Fellowship - to embrace those in the Society as equals, seeking inclusive bonds across diverse communities and generations

Omicron Delta Kappa looks for leaders in all areas of campus life, such as, scholarship, athletics, community service, social activities, student government, journalism/speech/mass media, and creative/performing arts.

In order to qualify for membership, students must be in the top 35% of his/her class with a minimum of a 3.5 GPA. Additional requirements are determined by each chapter, but ODK prides itself in being highly selective by limiting its annual membership induction to no more than 3-5% of a college/institution's total graduate enrollment.

Notable members of Omicron Delta Kappa include:

  • Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
  • President George H.W. Bush
  • President Jimmy Carter
  • President Gerald R. Ford
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Walter Cronkite
  • Shirley Chisholm

Omicron Delta Kappa currently has 318 active chapters and over 330,000 leadership members. You’ll recognize them on graduation day by their light blue, black, and white honor cords -- all worn as solids, along with their custom stoles.

light blue honor cord from senior class graduation productsblack honor cord from senior class graduation productswhite honor cord from senior class graduation products

Are you a member of ODK or a campus leader? Let us know in the comments!


Cover photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

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