Dr. Rene Van Acker, an internationally renowned scholar and leader, is the University of Guelph’s new vice-president (research and innovation). This five-year appointment will be crucial in furthering U of G as one of Canada’s top research-intensive universities.

Since last July, Van Acker has served as interim vice-president (research) and steps into the new role excited to advance innovation and institutional creativity.

“As I’ve come to appreciate the scope and scale of the role, I’m looking forward to continue the work I’ve been doing with the excellent leaders and teams within the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation,” Van Acker says.

“We are a very successful research-intensive university, but we can never take our past success for granted. We always need to take a fresh look at what we are doing to be successful going forward, and that’s what I intend to do.”

Dr. Rene Van Acker ‘deeply familiar with what makes U of G great’

Growing up on a farm near Burford, Ont., Van Acker studied at U of G for his bachelor and master of science in crop science and weed science, respectively, before earning a PhD in crop weed ecology from the University of Reading in the U.K.

Dr. Rene Van Acker

With over 130 peer-reviewed articles published, his research has been crucial in understanding weed management, a constant challenge in crop production systems worldwide.

He became a professor at the University of Manitoba, returning to U of G in 2006. He has since gained 18 years of experience within the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) as department chair, associate dean and most recently as dean.

Van Acker’s strong visions for OAC were realized through its renewed strategic plan and its first infrastructure master plan in more than 40 years. He led the fundraising of over $100 million for OAC, including support for 25 externally supported chairs and professorships.

Van Acker has been a key leader in shaping other U of G institutions, co-founding the Arrell Food Institute and the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming. He also helped lead the development of the new Guelph Turfgrass Institute, the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre, the Guelph Food Innovation Centre, the Animal Biosciences Abattoir and Meat Laboratory, the Honey Bee Research Centre, renovations to the Arobretum’s Hilton Centre, the new and expanded Student Federation OAC Suite in Johnston Hall, Dairy at Guelph and Soils at Guelph.

Leading the search for the role was Dr. Charlotte Yates, U of G president and vice-chancellor.

“Rene has done a fabulous job as interim vice-president (research) and we are thrilled to have him continue in the role,” Yates says. “He is deeply familiar with what makes U of G great and has a clear vision of opportunities for advancement in research and innovation that will drive forward our success as one of Canada’s top research-intensive universities.”

As Van Acker continues in the role of vice-president (research and innovation), Dr. John Cranfield, currently acting dean for the Ontario Agricultural College, will continue to serve as interim dean.