In 1995, friends of the College established a lecture series in honour of Stanley Knowles, O.C., (1908 – 1997), Canada’s longest-serving member of the House of Commons and an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada.
The lectures would be open to the public and speak to a humanitarian theme. They would not only increase the audience's understanding of a topic, but also provide a greater practical awareness of how one might become more personally engaged in humanitarian initiatives – initiatives aimed at enhancing the public good.
Originally, the series was known as the Stanley Knowles Visiting Professorship in Canadian Studies, with speakers such as Mordecai Richler, Stephen Lewis, Linda McQuaig and Dalton Camp. In 2005, the series was reborn as the Stanley Knowles Humanitarian Service Lecture and since then, speakers such as Dambisa Moyo, Michaëlle Jean and Lloyd Axworthy have delivered the lecture.
Stanley Knowles, known as “the conscience of the House,” was an expert on House of Commons rules, and is regarded as being largely responsible for the improvement of public pensions, the creation of public housing and other benefits for Canada’s elderly, poor and unemployed.