Campus News

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

News Release

June 20, 2002

OAC releases Strategic Plan 2002+

The Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) has released a new strategic plan to strengthen its role as a global leader in innovative education and research in four core areas: agriculture, food, the rural community and the environment.

"This plan sets bold goals in short but achievable time frames," said dean Craig Pearson. "It will see us build a truly multi-campus, united OAC that will increase our provincial impact and significantly strengthen our global leadership in the life sciences. If we strive globally, we benefit locally. Attracting the world's best talent will benefit each of OAC's campus communities and Ontario's farmers, food industries and environment as a whole."

The plan was developed with input from 25 focus groups involving OAC faculty, staff, students and alumni across the province, as well as interviews with rural community leaders and other external stakeholders. It calls for the Guelph, Alfred, Kemptville and Ridgetown campuses to evolve fully into a consolidated network that provides a cohesive, co-ordinated approach to agriculture and food-sector skills training and research.

A step toward this goal is the decision to move the agricultural and horticultural diplomas from the Guelph campus to the regional campuses, effective September 2003, and to launch new associate diplomas in areas of new demand: food risk and safety at Kemptville, turfgrass management at Guelph and environmental management at Ridgetown. Alfred will continue to deliver modules and short courses in French across a range of rural programs, and plans to develop new French-language diplomas.

"This change will fortify the unique role and importance of the Alfred, Ridgetown and Kemptville campuses within OAC and increase our province-wide outreach and impact," Pearson said. "It will allow us to offer broadly based diplomas in eastern and southwestern Ontario, eliminate duplicate programs and offer specialized diplomas at a single, and the most appropriate, location."

A further objective is to better align the campuses that teach particular skills with those locations conducting research in disciplines associated with those skills. The new targeted associate diplomas "will meet market needs and will strengthen the link between skills training and provincial industries."

Pearson also noted that OAC will increase the opportunity for academically qualified students at any campus to transfer easily from diploma programs to degree programs at Guelph (after their first year or after completion of the two-year diploma). The Guelph campus will continue to teach OAC's bachelor of science (agriculture) program, as well as a broad range of other food, science, environment and community-oriented degrees.

The strategic plan also calls for increased international impact through an international travel fund, the establishment of a bilingual international leadership program, targets for more international research and training contracts, and the development of strategic networks with globally recognized universities and research institutes.

Other goals focus on ensuring outstanding graduates in OAC's four core areas and continuing OAC's research excellence for a diversified group of clients. Stronger links between teaching and research, and renewal of infrastructure in Guelph and Ridgetown, will also advance OAC's mandate for innovative research that benefits society.

"This strategy represents a tremendous amount of input and thoughtful advice from the OAC community," Pearson said. "The process for input will continue with an annual review of the plan each September by a monitoring group and OAC's International Advisory Council."

The OAC Strategic Plan 2002+ is available online, on the newly redesigned OAC home page.

For more information, contact Craig Pearson at (519) 824-4120, Ext. 2285.

For media questions, call Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 6039 or Ext. 3338.

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