Dr. Rene Van Acker has been reappointed dean of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) for a five-year term, effective Sept. 1, 2021.
“Under Dr. Van Acker’s leadership and guidance, OAC has experienced incredible growth and attained new levels of excellence, allowing us to remain at the forefront of agriculture and food, nationally and globally,” Dr. Gwen Chapman, provost and vice-president (academic) said in a release.
Van Acker’s strong and successful relationships with the agri-food sector, alumni, government and industry partners have led to new partnerships and programs and higher enrolment, she said.
As OAC dean, Van Acker developed a framework and vision for the college through a new strategic plan, a new infrastructure master plan (the first in more than 40 years) and OAC’s first experiential learning strategy.
He led the creation of new educational platforms, including the bachelor of Indigenous environmental science and practice program (the first of its kind in Canada) and course-based master’s programs in food safety and quality assurance, and dairy technology and management.
Van Acker has helped develop the Arrell Food Institute, the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming, the new Guelph Turfgrass Institute and the Guelph Food Innovation Centre.
He has also helped raise more than $90 million for OAC and facilitated the establishment of more than 20 externally funded chairs and professorships.
A donor-funded student recruitment program that Van Acker helped launch has increased OAC’s undergraduate student population by almost 50 per cent.
Previously, Van Acker was OAC’s associate dean (external relations) and chaired the Department of Plant Agriculture from 2006 to 2009. A leading expert on weed management and biosafety, he remains an active faculty member, supervising graduate students and teaching. He has published more than 130 peer-reviewed papers.