[Innes van Nostrand]

Distinguished Service Award profile: Innes van Nostrand, Sc’86

Former Alma Mater Society president and longtime Queen’s supporter Innes van Nostrand, Sc’86, is one of six members of the Queen’s community to be honoured with the Distinguished Service Award, which will be given out at ceremony on Nov. 5.

The award has been handed out by University Council since 1974 to recognize individuals who have made Queen’s a better place.

Mr. van Nostrand has been a passionate Queen’s booster for three decades. His leadership goes back to his student days when he was president of the AMS (1985-86) and received the Tricolour Award (1987). He worked in Advancement from 1986 to 1999, eventually serving as the director of Queen’s Alumni Affairs. He was on the University Council and the Board of Trustees and has served on more than 50 Queen’s committees.

Mr. van Nostrand took time out to answer a few questions about receiving this year’s Distinguished Service Award and reflect on his time at Queen’s.

Question: How does it feel to receive the Distinguished Service Award?

Answer: I am surprised and humbled. When I look at the some of the great Queen’s people who have received the DSA, including some of my own mentors and friends, I step back and see the rich and remarkable history of the university spoken through names like Baugh, Benidickson, Bonham, Conn, Courtright, Davies, Dodge, Hamilton, Hooey, Kennedy, Laverty, Leggett, Lougheed, Matheson, Meisel, Miklas, Ready, Rogers, Royce, Smith, Stirling, Tindall, Watts, Yealland and Young. My contributions are a far cry from theirs, so it’s another example of receiving more from Queen’s than I have contributed.

Question: What do you like best about volunteering/working for Queen’s?

Answer: I believe passionately that Canada’s future – our economy, our culture, our health, our civility, and our place in the world – will be impacted most of all by education, at all levels. As a nation, we need at least a handful of institutions that are operating at a world class level, and I believe that Queen’s is and must continue to be one of them. When you have the opportunity to contribute back even a little bit to a community that has given you so much, while at the same time serving a higher calling, it becomes very easy – a labour of love and passion. My wife Alison and I find serving the university to be a no-brainer. It works for our heads, for our hearts and for our spirits (and even more so because our eldest son started here in September).

Question: What accomplishment have you achieved that you are most proud of at Queen’s?

Answer: People who know me well, a number of faculty emeriti, and Dean Bacon would have reported that my graduating after a prolonged undergraduate journey would be top of the list! Otherwise, the most significant accomplishments all relate to interacting with, helping, and being part of teams through groups like EngSoc, QUESSI, the AMS, STAR, the Alumni Association, various Queen’s capital campaigns, Advancement, Sesqui, the Nooners, University Council and the Board. When you read the histories of Queen’s, you come to appreciate that what seem like great accomplishments at the time are perhaps a very small stone or maybe just a bit of mortar in the great building that is our 175 year old university.

Question:  What do you think makes Queen’s a special place?

Answer: While Queen’s evokes beautiful limestone buildings (my favourites being Summerhill and Theological Hall), incredible events that bring the community together (think Open Airs, Homecoming, football games, formals), and experiences that shape who you become, it is really mostly about people. Many of my closest friends (including my wife Alison) are people with whom I lived, went to classes (some of the time), and worked with in various capacities. They have helped define my life. I made it through Queen’s through the kindness and caring of some remarkable individuals – people like Jim Bennett, Marg Hooey, Al Gorman, and Don Heyding. I owe so much to them for their personal touch and willingness to help a student who did more than his fair share of floundering. For me, they define special. That and of course the sense of belonging, of caring, of challenge, and of good times.

This year’s other Distinguished Service Award recipients are Faculty of Education professor Lynda Colgan, Ken Cuthbertson (Arts’74, Law’83,), Barb Palk (Arts’73), Bob Pritchard (Sc’64), and David Pattenden (Arts'67, MA'69, Law'71, MEd'74, LLD '03).