Barrett Brooks was tasked with a challenge — the fate of an entire student organization was on his shoulders.
Brooks, a fifth-year senior from Dunwoody, is president of the honors leadership organization Omicron Delta Kappa. He was one of two final members of the University’s chapter when he joined in the fall of 2009.
Brooks could not pinpoint why the group’s numbers had shrunk so dramatically.
“I think it may be that they lost focus,” Brooks said. “And they had membership, but not having activities that we were really driving towards can create a lack of enthusiasm.”
When the membership fell down to two, T.W. Cauthen, the associate director of student affairs at the University, approached Brooks and Mason McFalls, the other remaining member, to “kick it into high gear” and get the ODK chapter back on its feet.
“That’s a tough spot to be in, especially if you want a group to continue its existence, and it put us in a little bit of a tight spot to come out of,” Brooks said.
But Brooks called the undertaking “exciting.”
“You know, there is that risk that you’re going to get to a point that you haven’t succeeded and you haven’t been able to bring people in,” he said. “But for me, I looked at it as an opportunity to get people excited about an organization that has been around for a really long time.”
ODK was founded at the University on April 29, 1935.
Dean William Tate, of Tate Student Center fame, became an honorary member two years later and went on to serve as the faculty secretary for the group until his retirement in 1971.
And like Tate, Brooks is no stranger to being involved on campus — he has served as both an orientation leader and president of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity during his time in Athens.
Now, ODK has grown in a big way — the group is welcoming 11 new members this semester alone.
With the membership tally up to 23, Brooks said the main factor to restoring prestige was changing the mindset of the group.
“We’ve really focused hard on creating a culture of activity and active involvement by our members,” he said. “Our initial purpose is definitely to honor those people who have been really involved on campus and who have really contributed to the University community. The idea is to bring people together from different areas of campus to where they can interact with people they might not have otherwise.”
And when Brooks looks back on his time at the University, his work with helping to prop ODK back on its feet will be near the forefront.
“It’s been a great experience for me,” he said. “I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I think it’s a great way to finish my college career.”