Distinguished Alumni Awards

Northwestern’s alumni office seeks nominations for future Distinguished Alumni Award candidates. Nominees should be graduates of the academy, junior college or college, or have attended the junior college for one year or the college for three semesters. Candidates must be at least five years beyond their graduation year and not currently an officer of the Alumni Association or a member of the award selection committee.

Three awards are presented during the college's annual Legacy Celebration Banquet:

  • Distinguished Professional Achievement: The alum chosen for this award demonstrates leadership, competence, dedication to continuing education and integrity in his/her chosen profession.
  • Distinguished Service to Humankind: The alum chosen for this award demonstrates leadership abilities in service to the community and/or society at large through notable Christian contributions.
  • Distinguished Service to Northwestern College: The alum chosen for this award demonstrates loyalty to the mission of Northwestern College, continued interest and support of the goals of NWC, and reflects honor on the college by his/her Christian lifestyle.

To nominate someone for a Distinguished Alumni Award who meets the above requirements, email the alumni office.

Dr. Randall OostraDistinguished Professional Achievement

Recipient of the Distinguished Professional Achievement Award, Dr. Randall Oostra is president and CEO of ProMedica Health System, based in Toledo. While he oversees an organization that generates $2 billion in annual revenue, employs 15,000, and serves 2.5 million patients in a two-state area, he says his job comes down to approaching every task from this perspective: How would I want my family to be treated?

Oostra served hospitals and health organizations in Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota before becoming vice president of ProMedica’s Toledo Hospital in 1997. He served as ProMedica’s president and chief operating officer from 2006 until this year, when he was named chief executive of the most integrated health system in the country, according to Modern Healthcare magazine.

Oostra earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northwestern College in 1977. He has also earned master’s degrees in science and healthcare administration and a doctorate in management. Oostra is formerly from Sioux Center, and his wife, Barbara (Vander Maten), is a native of Boyden. Of their three children, two are currently medical students.

Darlene Vander AardeDistinguished Service to Humankind

A 1952 Northwestern junior college graduate, Darlene (De Beer) Vander Aarde is the recipient of the Distinguished Service to Humankind Award. She and her husband, Stan, a physician, served as missionaries in Andhra Pradesh, India, from 1961 to 1987. While her husband practiced medicine at a hospital in Madanapalle, Vander Aarde pursued her own ministries.

Trained as a teacher, she taught English and Bible classes for nursing students and supervised a community nursery school. She organized a feeding program for undernourished children that served as a model for programs throughout Andhra Pradesh. She also oversaw an industrial institute that taught individuals how to make and market hand-crafted items.

Eventually, Vander Aarde became administrator of the American Arcott Mission Elementary and Middle School and the C.S.I. (Church of South India) High School for girls. In that capacity, she developed a scholarship program that enabled 100 girls from outlying villages to board at the schools.

Now retired, Vander Aarde volunteers at Orange City’s Bibles for Missions thrift store and participates in a quilting group at her church. She and her husband contribute to a scholarship named for Stanley’s parents, Bernard and Christine Vander Aarde. The scholarship supports Northwestern students pursuing full-time Christian service, especially missions.

Drew ’72 & Jean VogelDistinguished Service to Northwestern College

Drew and Jean (Tallman ’75) Vogel, recipients of the Distinguished Service to Northwestern College Award, attended Northwestern in the 1960s and ’70s. Drew attended for one year before earning a degree from Iowa State in 1973, and Jean majored in art education, graduating from Northwestern in 1975.

After college, the Vogels lived in Minneapolis and Denver before returning to Orange City, where Drew became president of Vogel Paint Inc. Generous with their time, they both have served as volunteers for numerous organizations in the community and region, including Northwestern College.

Drew was a member of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees from 1991 to 1999 and from 2001 to the present. He has been the board chair since 2003. He chaired the committee that led fundraising for the renovation of the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center, completed in 2004. He also chaired the search committee for the college’s eighth president, Dr. Bruce Murphy, and was a member of the search committee that recruited the current president, Greg Christy.

Jean served on the planning committee for President Christy’s inauguration last fall. She was also a member of Northwestern’s visual identity task force, which unveiled a new college word mark and logo in 2005. Jean also has served as a consultant for campus aesthetics, including the hanging of lights and wreaths and decorating of trees at Christmas.

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