Omicron Delta Kappa gets new inductees

This year the ceremony coincided with Founders’ Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday


Sarah Bartlett

Alpha Circle President Jillian Katterhagen spoke at the initiation.

Sarah Bartlett

This past Monday, 32 student initiates and four honorary members were inducted into Washington and Lee’s Alpha Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa.

This year, the ceremony coincided with the school’s annual celebration of Founders’ Day, as well as the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

ODK was founded by students and faculty at Washington and Lee on Dec. 3, 1914. The national leadership society has since grown to include over 300 active chapters at colleges and universities across the United States.

The organization, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this past December, awards national scholarships and leadership grants each year. Its headquarters remain here in Lexington, Va.

“Since its founding, the society has sought to honor students, faculty, alumni, and community members who best demonstrate exemplary leadership rooted in strong character,” stated Alpha Circle President Jillian Katterhagen ‘15 at the ceremony on Jan. 19.

“With a special eye towards the type of leadership that, in the words of General Lee, ‘espouses the glory of duty done and the honor of integrity of principle,’” Katterhagen said.

Each of the new inductees was chosen for his or her exceptional promise in at least one of five areas recognized by the society: scholarship, athletics, service, journalism, and the arts.

Four honorary members were inducted into the society for their outstanding accomplishments, as well as their dedication to both the university and the Lexington community.

“The organization recognizes a particular kind of leadership, one characterized by a generosity of spirit and a commitment of service to others,” said President Ruscio, former national president of ODK. “Membership in ODK is not simply an honor, but a lifelong obligation.”

The key speaker at the Founders’ Day ceremony was James C. Cobb, award-winning historian and professor at the University of Georgia.

Cobb’s lecture, entitled “Would the Past be Better Off Dead?” explored the history of the South and examined the past of the university itself.

“This university’s…rich historical bloodline virtually commands it to maintain a vital respect for the past while nurturing an environment where, although its power cannot be disputed, its meanings and implications most definitely can and, frankly, should be,” Cobb said.

Cobb spoke at length about southern identity and the impact of historical memory on the character of both George Washington and Robert E. Lee. He urged students to both explore and question the school’s past, and called for the recognition of all facets of our institutional history.

He went on to assure those gathered that “Washington and Lee will rightly stand as a place where we may fully assure that the integrity and the future of the past are in the best of hands.”

The students and community members inducted into ODK will join current members of the honor society for regular leadership activities and discussions throughout the year.