OAC's Alumni Foundation

Incorporated in 1960, the OAC Alumni Foundation (OACAF) is an independent body dedicated to the achievement of a well-educated, well-informed, prosperous and sustainable agriculture and rural community in Ontario.

The Alumni Foundation works with OAC and Alumni Affairs & Development to raise funds for:

  • providing awards to encourage bright, capable high school students to study agriculture (including food, environmental and rural issues) in degree and diploma programs at the Ontario Agricultural College
  • recognizing in-course students and graduands who have a high level of academic achievement and are making outstanding leadership contributions
  • supporting initiatives that improve the learning and living environment for OAC students and the teaching, research and technology-transfer programs of the College.
logo of the alumni foundation of the ontario agricultural college

For more information, please contact:

Cassandra Barden, 
Engagement Officer (OAC)
519-824-4120, Ext. 58740

Aerial image of Johnston Hall

Order of OAC

The Order of OAC was created by the OAC Alumni Foundation in 1999 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Ontario Agricultural College. It is a means of recognizing and celebrating significant financial contributions by individual donors to the Foundation and OAC.


The activities of OAC Alumni Foundation are managed by a board of directors and governed by approved by-laws.

  • Honorary Chair: Dr. J. Bruce Stone
  • Past Chair: Anna DeMarchi-Meyers
  • Chair: Dwight Greer
  • Vice-Chair: Ove Hansen
  • Secretary: (Open)
  • Treasurer: Rob Hall


  • Katie (Cheesemond) Giddy
  • Marie McNabb
  • Jason Bent
  • Kelly Davey
  • Martin Harry
  • Gerald Horst

Ex-Officio Directors:

  • Rene Van Acker, Dean, OAC
  • John Cranfield, Associate Dean, External Relations
  • Melanie O’Shea, President, OAC Alumni Association
  • Stephanie Fletcher, President, SFOAC
  • Morag Stewart, Director of Advancement, OAC
  • Leah Serafini, Stewardship and Engagement Manager, OAC

The investment portfolios of both the OAC Alumni Foundation and the OAC Alumni Association are managed by a Joint Investment Committee composed of members appointed by both bodies, and following agreed terms of reference. The JIC Chair and Portfolio Managers are appointed by the Committee.

Joint Investment Committee members representing the Foundation:

  • Mark C. Ostrowski

The OAC Alumni Foundation, a registered charitable foundation, was chartered by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario on the 26th day of February, 1960. The founding directors of the foundation were prominent OAC graduates and alumni leaders: Jack Errington Moles, Frank Earl Wolfe, Charles Earl Mighton, Lawrence Kerr, Wilbert Moffat Cockburn, Frederick William Presant, and Donald Ralph Campbell who joined the group in his capacity as the head of the Department of Agricultural Economics. Mr. W. H. J. Tisdale joined the Board of Directors in 1961 and became the first Chair of the Board. John Eccles was initially appointed Secretary and Harold Fry was appointed Treasurer.

Prior to 1964 the Ontario Agricultural College was administered directly by the Ontario Department of Agriculture. The OAC Alumni Association wanted to establish an endowment to fund entrance scholarships that would allow OAC to compete with professional programs at other universities in attracting quality students. Knowing that donors would be reluctant to donate directly to the government they created a foundation at arm’s length from the College. This foundation would enable OAC alumni to raise scholarship funds, provide tax receipts to donors, and attract the “brightest and the best” applicants to OAC.

The original objectives of the Foundation, as outlined in the charter, were a) to receive and maintain funds to support agricultural education within the Province of Ontario; b) to serve the purposes of agricultural education by means of scholarships, bursaries, student loans, special grants for educational purposes and other like methods; and c) to support agricultural education in Ontario by such means as may be available including research, publication, education and the establishment and maintenance of educational activities, agencies or institutions and the aid of such activities, agencies or institutions already established

These objectives are as relevant today as they were in 1960. While clearly identifying the purpose of the Foundation, they are broad enough to allow the Foundation to adapt to the changing needs of OAC students and faculty. From the beginning the OAC Dean has been an ex-officio Director of the Foundation. The Foundation has always sought the Dean’s input on awards and scholarships and, more broadly, engaged in activities that parallel the current operating mandate of the College. The Foundation now embraces the four major thrusts of the OAC, namely agriculture, environment, food, and rural communities, and supports OAC students at all four University of Guelph campuses, Alfred, Kemptville, Ridgetown, and Guelph.

For more information, download the OAC Alumni Foundation: A brief history PDF

The Foundation has been well served by dedicated alumni leaders serving as Chair.

1961 to 1965  - W. H. J. Tisdale, '11A, '13
1966 to 1970 - Paul Couse, '46
1970 to 1972 - Dave Adams, '49
1972 to 1986 - Gordon Nixon, '37
1986 to 1989 - Peter Lindley, '57
1989 to 1994 - Tom Sawyer, '59A, '64
1994 to 1997 - Pat Mighton, '64, M.Sc. '93
1997 to 1999 - Pat Seyfried, '57, M.Sc. '59
1999 to 2002 - Ginty Jocius, '70
2002 to 2005 - Mary Lynn McPherson, '80
2005 to 2008 - Bill Bearss, '71
2008 to 2010 - Bruce Christie, '58A
2011 to 2012 - Linda Hruska BSc (Agr) '85, MAgr '88
2013 to Present - Mark Ostrowski, '79

Gordon Nixon was by far the longest serving Chair of the Foundation. Following his time as Chair he was appointed Honorary Chairman, a position he held until his death in 2008. Gordon also served in many other capacities with UGAA and is widely recognized for his unfailing support and dedication to the OAC and to the University of Guelph.

Foundation Supported Awards

OAC's Alumni Foundation supports a number of awards, lectureships and other initiativies to help advance faculty impact and student learning.

In recognition of G.P. McRostie, Dr. F. Jameson and Mrs. R. Rietta Bell, through the OAC Alumni Foundation, provide an award of $1,000 to recognize the importance of effective advising and mentoring by faculty who play a significant role in the education of OAC students.

Past Recipients

2023: Dr. Iris Joye, Department of Food Science
2022: Dr. Cynthia Scott-Dupree, School of Environmental Sciences
2020: Asim Biswas, School of Environmental Sciences
2019: Peter Sikkema, Department of Plant Agriculture
2018: Tina Widowski, Department of Animal Biosciences
2017: Beverley Hale, School of Environmental Sciences
2016: Andy Gordon, School of Environmental Sciences
2015: Andreas Boecker, Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics
2014: Steve Marshall, School of Environmental Sciences
2013: Karen Landman, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
2012: J. Christopher Hall, School of Environmental Sciences
2011: Rebecca Hallett, School of Environmental Sciences
2010: Emmanuelle Arnaud, School of Environmental Sciences
2009: Jim Mahone, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
2008: Rickey Yada, Department of Food Science
2007: Allan C. Lauzon, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
2006: Massimo Marcone, Department of Food Science
2005: Nathan Perkins, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
2004: James L. Atkinson, Department of Animal and Poultry Science
2003: Douglas Goff, Department of Food Science
2002: Ian J.H. Duncan, Department of Animal and Poultry Science
2001: John H. Burton, Department of Animal and Poultry Science

With funds received from family and friends of the late Fred Presant, the Foundation supports the Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare to present the F.W. Presant Memorial Lecture.   Funds are normally provided every second year.

Past Lectures

  • 2014 - Dr. Juan Villalba, Utah State University; “Learning and diet selection in Herbivores: From the central idea to landscape management”, November 19, 2014
  • 2012 - Dr. Jayson Lusk, Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University; “Ham and Egg-Onomics”, November 28, 2012
  • 2010 - Dr. Victoria Sandilands; Avian Science Research Centre, Scottish Agricultural College, October 2010
  • 2008 - Dr. Joy Mench, University of California Davis; “Laying Hen Welfare: Scientific, Consumer and Industry Perspectives”, March 11, 2008
  • 2006 - Professor Dan Weary, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Animal Welfare, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia; “Building a Better World for Dairy Cattle – The Science and Practice of Improved Care and Housing”, September 27, 2006
  • 2005 - Dr. Joe Stookey, Western College of Veterinary Medicine; “Were the Old Ways the Best Ways for Farm Animal Welfare?”, November 2, 2005
  • 2003 - Professor Paul Hemsworth, Director of the Animal Welfare Centre, University of Melbourne, Australia; October 27, 2003

The OAC Alumni Foundation provided $3,500 to Holstein Ontario to help fund the Dairy Youth Judging Program. Don’s parents, Bruce and Isobel Risebrough, make an annual donation which together with the Foundation’s contribution enables this award to be made on a continuing basis.  

Support of OAC Student Learning and Outreach

On behalf of its many generous donors, the OAC Alumni Foundation is pleased to provide a significant annual contribution to degree, diploma and graduate student and faculty leadership development on all campuses through scholarships, awards, travel grants and lectures.  In addition, the Foundation supports special initiatives of high priority to the OAC Dean’s Office.

Recognized as a world leader in innovative life sciences and research, OAC produces graduates who discover and implement leading edge solutions for agriculture, food, the environment and rural communities in Canada and around the world. The Learning Trust (formerly the OAC Teaching Trust) supports students in hands-on learning experiences such as teaching labs, field study programs and international studies designed to enhance and supplement classroom knowledge.  Together the Richards Learning Trust, the T.R. Hilliard endowed fund and the Foundation's contributions to OAC's Learning Trust supports numerous student-driven projects each year.

Learn more about the OAC Learning Trust

Richards Learning Trust  
The Foundation was honoured to receive a generous contribution from the estate of Dr. Rick and Mary Richards in 2011, to establish the Richards Learning Trust.  The Foundation makes an annual grant to OAC’s Learning Trust in support of various student enrichment and learning experiences.  

The Foundation established an annual award to recognize those making outstanding contributions to agricultural extension in Ontario.  The award was named for the late T.R. “Dick” Hilliard, former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food, in recognition of his contributions to agricultural extension in Ontario.  In 2013, the Foundation restructured the award into an annual contribution to the OAC Learning Trust from the endowment in Dick Hilliard’s name. 

N.R. Richards Scholarship

A scholarship of $4000 is offered by the OAC Alumni Foundation in recognition of Professor N.R. Richards’ contribution to the OAC as Dean from 1962 to 1972.  This scholarship is available to students who are graduating from OAC and who undertake graduate study at the University of Guelph in the area of Land Resource Use and/or Rural Planning and Development. This scholarship has been generously supported by the Class of OAC '70.

Clay & Dorothy Switzer Leadership Scholarships

In recognition of Dr. Switzer’s contribution as Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College from 1972-1983, the OAC Alumni Foundation provides two scholarships of $2500 each to students in the degree and diploma programs of the College who have demonstrated outstanding leadership ability in OAC student organizations.  This scholarship has been generously supported by the Class of OAC '70.  

F.L. McEwen Scholarship

In recognition of his contribution as Dean of OAC (1983-1990), the OAC Alumni Foundation provides the F.L. McEwen Scholarship in sustainable agriculture valued at $4000 to the OAC graduate who is planning to enter a graduate program in a department or school of the OAC. 

R.J. McLaughlin Awards

These awards were presented in 2003 for the first time to participants in the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP) in recognition of Dr. McLaughlin’s leadership and contributions to the program.  Funds up to $4000 per year are provided to assist eligible participants with tuition and/or travel costs. 

RJ Gordon Graduate Student Award

To honour Rob Gordon’s achievements as Dean of OAC, 2008-2015, the OAC Alumni Foundation has created the RJ Gordon Graduate Student Award. The Foundation is currently fundraising for this award with an overall endowment goal of $150,000, which will provide a $5,000 annual award to be given to an OAC graduate student who has completed their undergraduate or master’s program at the OAC

Associate Diploma in Agriculture (ADA) 125th Anniversary Scholarships (I0626)

The OAC Alumni Foundation and the alumni and friends of the diploma program sponsor four (4) scholarships of $2,000 each in recognition of the 125th anniversary of the two year Associate Diploma programs. Apply by letter (no more than two pages) to the appropriate regional campus awards office by May 15 outlining involvement in student organizations, 4H, Junior Farmers, and rural community activities with an emphasis on leadership qualities and include plans for future career.

Students enrolled in any Associate Diploma program at Guelph or Ridgetown who have completed semester two with a minimum cumulative average of 70% and who have demonstrated leadership ability in student organizations, 4-H, Junior Farmers or other rural community activities are eligible to apply. Preference will be given to students planning a career in farming or any aspect of the agri-food, turf or horticulture industries.

Beth Duncan Memorial Gold Medal

This medal was first presented in 1972 and is provided by Beth Duncan’s classmates from OAC ’54.  It is awarded at convocation to a graduating student with demonstrated academic achievement and extracurricular participation in campus programs.   

Emiel Griesbach Year OAC ’30 Scholarship

In memory of their classmate, Emiel C. Griesbach, Year OAC ’30, through the OAC Alumni Foundation, provides an annual scholarship of $1,000 for a student in the Department of Food Science who is entering the graduate program.    

Norman E. McCollum Turfgrass Diploma Entrance Scholarship [E0606]

Donor(s): Norman McCollum, the Ontario Golf Course Superintendents Association and the OAC Alumni Foundation

Norman McCollum (Diploma Agriculture OAC 1966) a long-term employee of the University of Guelph, involved with the diploma course and the Turfgrass Institute, and Past President of the Alumni Association, along with the Ontario Golf Course Superintendents’ Association has established this $2,500 scholarship in honour of his retirement. Students entering the Associate Diploma in Turfgrass Management are eligible. Selection will be based on best overall experience, interest and career aspirations in turfgrass management and the recommendation letter from an employer applicable to the industry. Apply by letter (no more than two pages) to Student Financial Services (via email at awards@uoguelph.ca) by April 15 outlining previous work experience along with a copy of the Supplementary Information Form and a letter of recommendation from an employer applicable to the industry.

Norman E. McCollum Dairy Scholarship

A scholarship for $2,000 was created and awarded for the first time in 2012 by Norman McCollum in recognition of his valued friendship with Glenholme Jersey Farm.  Selection is based on academic achievement, and aspirations to pursue a career in dairy farming or the dairy industry.

Bruce W. Minshall Memorial Scholarship

A scholarship of $2,000 is provided by the late Dr. Harold Minshall, OAC ’33, in memory of his son Bruce, OAC ’70.  It is awarded to a third year OAC student in agricultural science, environmental science or science who is interested in plant protection and who has made the greatest improvement in academic standing since entering the program.        

W. Harold Minshall Scholarship

This award of $1,000 is provided by the late Dr. Harold Minshall, OAC ’33, to a third year OAC student in agricultural science, environmental science, or science with the highest proficiency in plant protection and participation in extra-curricular activities.

OAC ’49 BBRM – Environmental Management Entrance Scholarship

The class of OAC ’49 sponsors two entrance scholarships of $2,500 to students at Ridgetown campus entering the BBRM-Environmental Management program based on academic achievement, career aspirations, extracurricular and community involvement in agri-food related activities.

OAC ’49 BBRM – Equine Entrance Scholarship

The class of OAC ’49 sponsors two entrance scholarships of $2,500 to support the BBRM-Equine Management Program at Kemptville campus.  Applicants are selected based on the quality of their experience and/or leadership in volunteerism within the equine industry and the community including career aspirations and extracurricular activities.

OAC ’54 International Study Abroad Scholarship

Two (2) travel scholarships of $3,000 have been established by the class of OAC ’54 in memory of Beth Duncan.  The recipients must be currently enrolled in OAC with a minimum of 75 percent cumulative average and be Canadian citizens or permanent residents who intend to participate in an exchange program, semester abroad or field trip course.

OAC '67A Memorial Scholarship [I0921]

Donor(s): OAC Alumni Foundation on behalf of the Class of OAC '67A

The OAC Alumni Foundation on behalf of the Class of OAC 67A, the first graduating diploma class of the University of Guelph, provides two bursaries in the amount of $1,500 to entering students registered in their first semester of the Associate Diploma in Agriculture program with demonstrated financial need and who can demonstrate leadership and involvement in the field of agriculture through extracurricular activities, part-time work. Apply by September 30 to the awards office at Ridgetown Campus by submitting a completed Financial Need Assessment Form - Ridgetown Campus and a letter (no more than two pages) outlining your extra-curricular involvement in the agriculture field. Selection will be based on greatest financial need.

Fred W. Presant Scholarship

A scholarship of $1,000 is provided by the late Fred Presant, who was a graduate of OAC in 1921 and 1923, and a leader in the field of human and animal nutrition. Graduate students in Plant Agriculture or Environmental Biology who are conducting research on the study of pesticides and their use in the production of food crops are eligible. 


OAC ’59 Experiential Learning Travel Grants [T0702]

Donor(s): OAC Alumni Foundation on behalf of OAC’59

The Class of OAC ’59, in recognition of their 50th anniversary since graduation, has established this award to assist students participating in meetings, conferences, seminars, tradeshows, course field trips, semesters abroad, etc. Selection will be based on relevance of intended travel and benefits to program of study. Apply by June 30th to the OAC Awards Office via oacaward@uoguelph.ca with a one page letter outlining planned travel; reasons for travel; dates of travel; estimated costs including a breakdown and total; and expected benefits of travel to the student’s program of study. In addition, provide a reference letter from a faculty member providing criteria for relevance of intended travel and benefits to program of study.

Students registered in any OAC program who are approved for travel for conferences, seminars, tradeshows, course field trips, semesters abroad, etc. within 6 months before or after the application deadline.

Bruce E. Christie Travel Grant for Agricultural Communications

This award was established by friends and colleagues of Bruce Christie, P.Ag.(Hon), OAC ‘58A in honour of his retirement.  It was restructured in 2012 to provide up to $2,000 in annual funding to the team of students in the University’s student chapter of CAMA (Canadian Agri-Marketing Association) to support national or international professional development programs, including the annual CAMA meeting.  The award recognizes Bruce’s unwavering dedication to excellence in communications between the agri-food industry and its various constituents.  The first grants were presented in November 2012.

George Raithby Memorial Travel Grant

In 2012, the terms for the George Raithby Memorial Lecture were restructured into a travel grant to provide up to $5,000 annually through the Department of Animal and Poultry Science for students in OAC’s animal-related programs who are participating in national or international professional development opportunities including, but not limited to, team competitions or semester abroad study.   This award recognizes the significant contributions of Professor Raithby (OAC ’22) to the college.  The first presentation will be in the fall of 2013.

W.S. (Stan) Young Memorial Communications Grant

Family, friends and colleagues of the late Dr. Stan Young (BSA ’49) established an endowment fund as a tribute to Stan’s accomplishments in the area of agricultural communications and to further his vision for a more proactive and focused education for people interested in promoting agriculture and food-related issues. The Foundation restructured the award in 2012 to provide an annual grant of $1300 for a student intern working with the OAC Communications Office. The intern will focus on creating communication pieces (various media) appropriate for distribution within OAC, the University and industry channels. The funding may also support professional development opportunities. The program began in 2013.

About OAC

Established in 1874, the Ontario Agricultural College is one of seven colleges that make up the University of Guelph. OAC is a globally recognized leader in education and research in agriculture, food, environmental sciences, and community development. The OAC provides a wide range of academic programs at the diploma, undergraduate, graduate, and certificate levels.