Omicron Delta Kappa is more than the monthly emails that appear in campus inboxes that recognize the work of a leader at Hillsdale College.
Nationally, ODK, the National Leadership Honor Society, focuses on recognizing scholarship, leadership, and campus involvement in various different forms. The Hillsdale chapter, established in 1949, centers itself on “town-and-gown” relationships, because no one else focuses on this topic as its primary mission, ODK President Christopher Pudenz said.
ODK Secretary Larissa Clark said at times there can be a disconnect between people on campus and locals.
“In reality, we have a lot in common, and there’s things to be gained from having a relationship with each other,” Clark said. “We’re hoping to cultivate a better relationship between Hillsdale College and the Hillsdale community.”
Although this year’s 10-senior circle has organized and participated in several events focused on connecting the Hillsdale community with the Hillsdale campus, members said there is room for the honorary to improve and develop its initiatives. For that reason, it is moving the application process for next year’s circle up, and the honorary’s leaders said they expect the application to be released in the next few weeks with an induction of the new members before spring break instead of the traditional April date.
“I think there’s a lot of room for growth with ODK,” Clark said. “It’s been a learning curve for us, figuring out the best way to leverage this group. Our hope is that looking forward, we can start to lay the foundation for further groups to build on.”
In the fall, the student activities office sponsored a community football night, and ODK helped deliver tickets and fliers to local schools and businesses to promote the free game at Muddy Waters Stadium for students and their families.
The honorary also sent its treasurer, Christian Wiese, to a city planning meeting that discussed the vision for the future of Hillsdale’s downtown. By sending a representative, ODK was presenting a voice on behalf of the 1,400 college students that live in the community, Wiese said.
“We’re trying to make a difference to improve our own community as well as give back to the local residents,” he said.
Additionally, ODK’s connection to a national organization gave it the chance to honor A Few Good Men, one of Hillsdale’s GOAL programs, with a grant of $500 to support its Snow Assault Lead Team that sends students to remove snow from driveways in town.
This semester, the honorary is seeking to hold an entrepreneurship luncheon at the end of March, a different take on the etiquette dinner held last year that honored community leaders. The honorary’s members said they hope to team up with other college clubs to invite local leaders and unsung heroes to a discussion panel on campus. Clark said the event would honor these leaders and give them the chance to share their stories and wisdom with students.
“There’s a lot of beauty in being in a smaller town and putting yourself out there and working to cultivate the community,” Clark said. “A lot of business leaders here have done that, and I think we overlook that at the college. We want to tap into the resource of unique individuals who are very passionate about what they do.”
The honorary’s leadership said they hope to have next year’s ODK circle help plan and execute the event to better prepare them for their role in the organization their senior year.
“There’s been a lot of figuring out the process for our circle, which is why we’re hoping to get the next circle initiated earlier; that way we can work alongside them,” Clark said. “That way they’ll be on a better footing for next year.”
But as the honorary plans this entrepreneur event, its leadership said it is also hoping to receive recommendations and ideas from the group’s peers. Those with suggestions or a desire to get involved can contact Pudenz.
Until then, students should expect to see more emails about leaders on campus, many of whom are committed to serving the surrounding community. Their involvement is an example to others, Clark said.
“They’re thriving and loving what they do,” Clark said. “It shows that it is possible with a busy academic schedule to still be community minded.”