Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 10, 1995

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

     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

     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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