The University of Guelph has named Dr. Rene Van Acker, professor and dean of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), as its interim vice-president (research).  

He will take on the interim position immediately as a secondment from his role as OAC dean. 

Dr. Rene Van Acker wears a suit and poses for a portrait on a stairway
Dr. Rene Van Acker

“Dr. Van Acker has been a committed and collaborative champion of the University for many years, evidenced by his service in various leadership roles,” said Dr. Charlotte Yates, president and vice-chancellor. “We appreciate Dr. Van Acker’s service, and we warmly welcome him to the executive team.” 

During Van Acker’s nearly seven years as OAC dean, U of G has established the Arrell Food Institute, expanded the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre, relocated the Guelph Turfgrass Centre and planned a new campus home for the Honey Bee Research Centre

An experienced fundraiser, Van Acker has helped to attract more than $100 million for OAC, including support to establish more than 20 externally funded chairs and professorships in the college.  

“I am honoured to take on this leadership role for the University on an interim basis,” said Van Acker. “The University of Guelph has a culture of being research-intensive and has a proud and long history of significant research achievements. I will work hard to facilitate ongoing research capacity and success.”    

He will replace Dr. Malcolm Campbell as vice-president (research), who will step down effective July 20 for personal reasons. Campbell joined U of G as vice-president (research) in 2015.  

Following an administrative leave, Campbell will focus on his role as a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology within the College of Biological Science.  

Under his leadership, the Office of Research developed and updated the University’s strategic research plan and secured the University’s largest research grant in its history, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund initiative Food from Thought.

During Campbell’s tenure, U of G negotiated multimillion-dollar agreements for the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and advanced the University’s research and innovation successes as well as its national and international reputation. 

“On behalf of the Board of Governors, we thank Dr. Campbell for his dedicated service as vice-president (research) to the University of Guelph,” said Nancy Brown Andison, chair of the Board of Governors. 

During Van Acker’s secondment, Dr. John Cranfield, OAC associate dean (external relations), will serve as acting OAC dean.  

The University will conduct a formal search for a permanent candidate for the vice-president (research) position.