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A Spring Fling, Highland style!

A Spring Fling, Highland style!

Mary Van Leeuwen, Arts'65, now a psychology professor, hasn't forgotten her days as a Highland dancer with the Queen's Bands.
[photo of Mary (Stewart) Van Leeuwen, Arts’65]Mary (Stewart) Van Leeuwen, Arts’65

To the delight of the Spring Reunion crowd, Mary (Stewart) Van Leeuwen, Arts’65, kicked off her shoes and joined the Queen’s Bands dancers in a Highland Fling in front of Grant Hall.

Mary, now a professor of Psychology and Philosophy at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA, wore her own academic robes to the Re-Convocation ceremony for alumni in Grant Hall.

Mary writes, “My sister Nancy, Arts’56, had been a cheerleader at Queen’s, and our family had hosted lots of Queen's Band members on weekends when Queen's played football against UWO in London. I had set my sights on eventually being a Highland Dancer myself at Queen’s.”

But when she came to her first Band practice in 1961, she was told that all the dancers had graduated the previous year, and there weren’t enough to start a new team. Mary, who had been doing Highland and Scottish Country Dancing since she was 11, took charge, and trained seven new dancers in time for the season’s first football game. She was the teacher for the Queen’s Highland Dancers for the next four years.

Mary, who won the 1965 medal in Psychology, went on to get her PhD in social and cross-cultural psychology at Northwestern University in Chicago.

In 1994, she joined the faculty of Eastern University. There, she is Professor of Psychology and Philosophy and Resident Scholar at the university’s Center for Christian Women in Leadership.

She has written extensively on gender issues and Christianity. Some of her research has involved collaboration with Queen's professors John Berry (emeritus Professor, Psychology) and David Lyon (Professor of Sociology and Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre).

She has also continued dancing and teaching Scottish Country Dancing. And while she hadn’t done a Highland Fling in a few years before her visit back to Queen’s, Mary says “some things stay on the hard drive in your brain.”

Mary’s brother, Ken Stewart, also Arts’65 and a former Queen’s piper, joined her for Spring Reunion.

One of the highlights for the siblings was the Arts’65 pub dinner organized by Peter Taylor, now Professor of Mathematics at Queen’s. At the dinner, Mary had the opportunity to catch up with her former Queen’s housemate Christiane Dodge and her husband David, now Queen’s Chancellor.

Of her impromptu dance, Mary says, “I suppose it will be both the first and last time I will do a Highland Fling in my Northwestern and Queen’s academic regalia!”

[Queen's Alumni Review 2010-3 cover]