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David Walker ’51 earns John D. Stevenson Award for extraordinary volunteer service

In an age of “robocalls” from various charitable causes, it takes a special person to get on the phone to 1,000 fellow UCC alumni and have a wide-ranging personal conversation about the school with every single one.

It’s exactly this passion and belief in the power of grassroots support that have earned David Walker ’51 the UCC Association Council’s John D. Stevenson Award for 2015. The honour is given to individuals who’ve provided outstanding volunteer service to the College over a number of years. It recognizes the exceptional contributions of John D. Stevenson ’47 (who, coincidentally, was Walker’s head of house in McHugh’s).

By so many accounts, Walker’s most distinguishing characteristic is his singular initiative. To recap his most significant achievement, Walker stepped up in November 2008 with an offer to personally telephone and solicit alumni for the annual fund (now the UCC Fund). Granted his background in insurance sales served him in this role yet, by any benchmark, his results were extraordinary.

For more than a year he made an incredible 3,000 calls — and connected with more than 1,000 Old Boys from all generations, from one year to 70 years past graduation.

The College started hearing tales about this “older Old Boy” and their interesting and generous conversations. While the focus was encouraging philanthropic support, he ended up discussing the “new” principal, boarding and memories of alumni experiences. In the end, he raised more than $100,000 for the school.

“For a retiree to step up, without being asked, and to contact so many people with whom he has no personal connection is extraordinary,” says principal Jim Power. “The fact that he’s been so successful is remarkable. It’s a very special form of volunteer service.”

“This initiative had a huge impact on participation and put a face — or at least a voice and a personality — to an institutional relationship,” says former vice-principal, advancement, Innes van Nostrand. “I still marvel about this remarkable accomplishment and the fact that he came up with the idea himself. It is testament to a deep and abiding sense of loyalty and service by David to his alma mater.”

Among his many other achievements, Walker was already inducted into UCC’s Harold A.D. Roberts Circle in 2009 for his volunteer service, which includes standing as class president since 1997. He was also an annual giving committee member (2008-09) and reunion giving chair (2001). He’s also a regular event attendee and a member of the Sir John Colborne Society for leadership donors.

Walker’s first foray into fundraising for UCC started in 1999 when some classmates decided to raise money to create scholarships in honour of their two favourite teachers – Jim Coulton and Jay MacDonald. Walker not only contacted classmates, but dozens of Coulton’s and MacDonald’s former students and succeeded in establishing endowed scholarships at over $100,000 each.

Walker continues his involvement to this day, making annual giving calls in 2013 and raising approximately $15,000 for the Ted Stephenson Scholarship Fund, named for one of UCC’s most beloved teachers. (Stevenson ’52 taught at the College from 1964 to 1991. Walker chose to name the fund for this popular teacher to rally the most support for the initiative, rather than naming it after himself or a loved one.) He’s also reaching out to each member of his class, signing each UCC Fund letter and making follow-up calls.

“David has vigorously represented our class of 1951 for many, many years, demonstrating his enthusiastic love and dedication for UCC,” says classmate Alex Pathy. “He is most deserving of our thanks and recognition.”

Nominations for the Stevenson Award are elicited annually from all members of the College community. As always, the award will be presented at Founder’s Dinner, Feb. 11 at the College.

 or contact Samantha or Maria in the Association Office at 1-800-822-5361.