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Delta Omega


By Gerard J. Shorb, Johns Hopkins University

Part 1: Introduction

Delta Omega is a national honor society founded to encourage research and scholarship among students engaged in graduate study in public health and to recognize attainment in the field of public health.1

Since 1924, the Society has had eighteen local chapters consisting of about 4,000 members.2 A National Executive Council, made up of elected officers and delegates from the local chapters, administers the affairs of Delta Omega. The Society is governed by a constitution and set of bylaws. Schools and universities accredited by the Council on Professional Education may establish local chapters. However, final approval rests with the National Council.3 Delta Omega limits its membership to public health faculty, students and alumni. Each candidate must also meet membership criteria as set forth in the constitution and bylaws. The Society accepts only students meeting high academic standards. All candidates must demonstrate a potential for making significant contributions to the field of public health.4 5

On the national level, Delta Omega has made several contributions to advance the mission of the Society. It has sponsored a number of scholarly events throughout its history, most of them occurring during the annual meetings of the American Public Health Association. During these meetings, Delta Omega holds its yearly business meeting and the Society has used the occasion to sponsor lectures on timely public health topics. Another sponsored event is the presentation of Delta Omega Merit Awards to students, faculty and alumni to recognize outstanding achievement in the field of public health. More recently, the Society has sponsored award-winning essays on the topic of "Public Health as Social Justice." Finally, Delta Omega periodically underwrites the republication of classic works in the history of public health that have not been readily available to public health workers through traditional libraries.

The primary activities of the Society, however, are at the local level. Each local chapter generally sponsors events suited to its own needs and resources. These events often include electing new members each year and nominating candidates for national awards. The Soceity also holds annual luncheons or dinners to welcome new members. Some chapters publish newsletters. Others sponsor lectures and scientific symposia. Many chapters arrange for student poster sessions and scholastic competitions. A group of officers, chosen from the faculty and students of the school where the chapter resides, governs the local chapters. Upon local induction, new members receive a certificate of membership, making them eligible to bear the official Delta Omega letters engraved on a key or keypin.