Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

February 01, 1999

OAC celebrates 125th anniversary

This year, the University of Guelph celebrates the 125th anniversary of the Ontario Agricultural College and the beginning of advanced education in Guelph.

"The University of Guelph enjoys a unique and illustrious heritage in its agricultural beginnings," says U of G president Mordechai Rozanski. "OAC has played a significant role in the history of the university and is still one of the most innovative colleges on campus. OAC and its alumni have given us a remarkable legacy as the college has risen to prominence as Canada's premier centre for agri-food, environmental and rural education, research, analytical services and outreach."
OAC dean Rob McLaughlin says it's important to "celebrate our past achievements and to recognize our present and future strengths. I hope the campus community, as well as our alumni, partners and friends in the Guelph community, will join in the festivities."

Events scheduled throughout 1999 will recognize some of the key partners who have worked alongside OAC throughout its 125 years. This is also the 125th anniversary of Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) support for agricultural education and research, says Rozanski, and a celebration of the co-operative relationship between the campus and the citizens of Guelph, who supported the college in its early years and, since 1968, have encouraged the university's growth.

A special OAC 125 planning committee, co-chaired by former college dean Clay Switzer and Don Blackburn, former director of the college's diploma program, has been busy organizing the 1999 anniversary. Planned events include a series of lectures on agri-food topics, a heritage ball, symposia, an art show, Canada's biggest silent auction, a millennium conference to discuss the major forces shaping the global and Canadian agri-food systems, and new books highlighting the college's history and research achievements.

One of the first projects completed by the committee is a book of accomplishments called 125 Years of Achievement. Former OAC dean Freeman McEwen chaired the publication committee that identified 125 of the most important accomplishments the college has made with its partners.

A new OAC history, The College on the Hill: A New History of the Ontario Agricultural College, 1874-1999, will be published in April. Its authors are Guelph history professor Terry Crowley and university professor emeritus Alexander Ross, who wrote the original College on the Hill for OAC's 100th anniversary.
Both books illustrate the changes that 125 years have brought to agriculture and education, while demonstrating that the agri-food sector has maintained its economic importance to the country and that Guelph expertise has maintained its importance to the agri-food sector.

U of G is playing a key role in the growth of a Canadian agri-food quality cluster in Guelph, which is designed to enhance the competitiveness and integrity of the agri-food industry. The presence of OMAFRA and branch offices of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Guelph, as well as many agri-food research and development laboratories, reflects the expertise and reputation of the college and the university.

Guelph's agriculture graduates are in increasing demand in the business world, where available jobs outstrip the number of graduates. The anniversary year will graduate the first class of the college's redesigned B.Sc.(Agr.) program, which incorporated workplace skill building into its curriculum after business leaders indicated these skills were highly sought in the workplace.

Each of those new graduates will receive a copy of The College on the Hill: A New History of the Ontario Agricultural College, 1874-1999, as a memento of their personal achievement in the 125th-anniversary year of the college.

Updates of anniversary events will be posted on the OAC 125 Web site at

Email this entry to:

Message (optional):