Wayde Marsh, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in May, has been named the national leader of the year by Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.
Each year, ODK chapters, or circles, from throughout the country are invited to nominate an exceptional leader to be considered for the national award. The General Russell E. Dougherty National Leader of the Year award is given to the student who has shown the greatest dedication to all of the five phases of campus life that ODK considers. Those areas are creative and performing arts; campus and community service; athletics; scholarship; and journalism, speech and the mass media.
Marsh, who becomes the first Washington and Lee student to win the prestigious award, will be awarded a $4000 scholarship toward his graduate studies at Duke Divinity School and a $300 grant from W&L's Alpha Circle, of which he was president during his senior year.
"Wayde stands out among a very impressive group of leaders in the Alpha Circle for his easy demeanor, ability to find common solutions, and his dedication to upholding common values," said Linda Hooks, Canaan Professor of Economics and faculty advisor to ODK. "Wayde's election as student president of Alpha Circle last year reflects the high regard he earned from his peers at W&L."
A politics and religion double major from Milford, Del., Marsh was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was a member of Phi Kappa Psi social fraternity. He was honored at Commencement as the male winner of the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Medallion, awarded by a vote of the faculty to the male and female students in the graduating class who "excel in high ideals of living, in spiritual qualities and in generous and disinterested service to others."
In her letter of recommendation on Marsh's behalf, Sidney Evans, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, noted his role as head resident advisor for upper division housing during his senior year: "[Wayde] shows maturity, consistency and dependability in his approach to working with younger students," wrote Evans. "He is responsible and thoughtful in his leadership, looking out for those who need assistance and challenging those around him to do their best. He is not a leader who demands the spotlight. However, he is comfortable taking charge and being up front when that is the best way to handle a situation."
Added Evans: "Wayde also has the ability to develop and articulate a vision and to motivate others to work towards it. I expect great things from this outstanding young man. He is a leader in the truest sense of the word."
Alexandra Brown, professor of religion and advise Marsh's senior honors thesis in religion, described him as "a person of parts," adding "in each part I know — academic, athletic, social, musical and spiritual — he shows depth, character, and great promise as a leader of his generation."
Marsh was a two-sport athlete, excelling in both swimming and track and field. He earned a combined seven letters, four for swimming and three for track and field. He was captain of the swim team as a senior and a four-time All-American.
In May, Marsh won the William D. McHenry Male Scholar-Athlete Award and a month later he was named the winner to the 2013 Capital One Division III Academic All-America At-Large team.
Marsh was president of Phi Eta Sigma First-Year Honor Society, won a Religion Department Award for Excellence and belonged to Pi Sigma Alpha Politics Honor Society. He was vice president of 1 in 4 Sexual Assault Prevention group.
The process for selecting the Dougherty winner included recognizing one outstanding student from each of the five ODK phases of campus life. Marsh was cited in the athletics category.
Founded at Washington and Lee in 1914, ODK was the first college honor society of a national scope to accord recognition and honor for meritorious leadership and service in extracurricular activities and to encourage the development of general campus citizenship.