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Foam red and black turtles floating in water of the ODK Fountain on Maryland Day

History of ODK

Leaders among Leaders

Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) is a nationally recognized leadership honor society. The University of Maryland Sigma Circle acknowledges students and faculty who have contributed to the campus by highlighting leadership and bringing together all phases of collegiate life.

The members of ODK are responsible for maintaining a high standard of efficiency in five areas of collegiate activities: scholarship; athletics; campus or community service, social and religious activities, and campus government; journalism, speech, and the mass media; and the creative and performing arts. Members should also inspire others to strive for conspicuous attainment along similar lines.

Our mission is to be an organization of leaders among leaders that helps foster the sharing of opportunities to benefit the campus community. 

A canvas painted image of the 15 men founders of ODK
The 15 founders were all students, faculty, or administrators of Washington and Lee University. Each went on to have long and distinguished careers serving both campuses and communities.

Omicron Delta Kappa was founded on December 3rd, 1914, at Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia. The 15 founders stated that leadership of exceptional quality and versatility in college should be recognized; that representatives of all phases of college life should cooperate in worthwhile endeavor; and that outstanding students and faculty members should meet on a basis of common interest, understanding, and helpfulness.

There were three principal founders of Omicron Delta Kappa: J. Carl Fisher, who was Business Manager of the Student Magazine; Rupert Nelson Latture, President of the YMCA; and, William Mosely Brown, Phi Beta Kappa. 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. When there were fifteen members, the first public announcement of the establishment of Omicron Delta Kappa was made in the student newspaper on January 12, 1915. With the passage of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, the first woman was elected to ODK in 1973. Prior to that, women were selected for Mortar Board and men for ODK.

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