Circle of Friends Revives OK Honor Society By Ken Keatley Unnoticed by the throngs of students and staff that pass by it each day is a small, concrete obelisk in a garden outside the southern entrance to Gilman Hall. It is the most visible reminder of Hopkins' storied history with Omicron Delta Kappa, a prestigious national leadership honor society. Hopkins' Beta Circle, founded in 1916, is the second oldest ODK circle in the country, and was the first circle to admit women. But in recent years, the organization--which inducts honors students (or faculty and staff) who have also earned distinction as leaders in athletics, campus media, the arts and/or other activities--has dwindled into oblivion at Homewood. "One of my goals is to get this circle going again this year," said Ralph Johnson, who came to Hopkins in October as director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. "I really believe in the ODK idea--that co-curricular activities and academic scholarship are important in developing a successful student." Dr. Johnson was inducted into ODK's circle at Florida State University, and has remained an active member of the Lexington, Ky.-based organization. He's counting on other ODK members on the faculty and staff at Hopkins to help jump-start the dormant Beta Circle. A reception of existing members, as well as students interested in applying for ODK membership, will take place on Thursday, April 13, 5 p.m., in the Shriver Hall Clipper Room. Among those in attendance will be Mary Ellen Porter, special assistant to the dean of Homewood student affairs, who was inducted as a university staffer several years ago. "What makes ODK a significant honor--the combination of leadership and scholarship--may have contributed to its downfall here," said Porter. "That combination is hard to find, especially at a place with the academic rigors of Hopkins." That's all the more reason to honor those select few students who qualify, said Dr. Johnson. "Given the history of ODK here, and Hopkins' academic reputation, it is important to restore the circle," he added. "It is truly a worthwhile, and honorable, society." According to ODK records, Johns Hopkins was the first university to be approached about joining the society by its founding members, who established it at Washington & Lee University in 1914. The impetus for the invitation came from De la Warr Benjamin Easter, a Hopkins graduate and first president of the founding circle of ODK. Playing the modern-day role of Dr. Easter is Dr. Johnson, who is accepting applications for student membership in ODK. Applicants must be juniors, seniors or graduate students who rank in the upper 35 percent in scholarship and show leadership in one of five categories. For details, or an application, attend the April 13 reception or call Dr. Johnson at 516-5435. Deadline to apply for this academic year is Monday, April 17.
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