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‘Record-setting’ U of G scholarships announced for agri-food sector

Courtesy of $2 million gift from alumni, school to launch scholarships of $80,000, $40,000 and $15,000

In hopes of attracting the “best and brightest” people possible to the agriculture industry, a University of Guelph alumnus gave the school a $2 million gift which is being used to create the institution’s largest ever scholarship, and a couple others.

The funding comes from Andy Wilder, who graduated from the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC)  in 1984, school officials announced.

“There is a massive challenge facing Canada’s agriculture and food industry,” Wilder said in a news release. “It requires highly talented people from multiple disciplines to produce more food while reducing its carbon footprint.” 

Wilder believes the scholarships will help the university attract students to the OAC, which he believes has the ability to develop collaborative leaders needed to solve those challenges.

“I hope these scholarships attract the best and brightest students to choose a fulfilling career in agriculture,” he added.

The scholarships are:

Wilder Family Leadership Scholarship ($80,000) – awarded annually to an undergraduate student with “significant leadership experiences”

Wilder Family Scholarship (two at $40,000 each) – awarded annually to students entering an OAC degree program with a minimum 80 per cent admission average with demonstrated financial need and has made “significant leadership contributions” to their school and/or community

Wilder Family Graduate Scholarship (two at $15,000 each) – awarded annually to international students pursuing a course-based master’s degree.

The first two are payable over four years, while the latter is to be paid out over two semesters.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Andy and his trust in OAC in developing future leaders in the agri-food sector,” said John Cranfield, acting-dean of the OAC, in the release.

“This scholarship (for international students) will help the University globalize the campus and foster global perspectives in our classrooms,” Cranfield added. “Attracting great students looking to expand their horizons from around the world is critical to a healthy Canadian agri-food system.”  

The OAC recently launched several new, course-based master’s programs meant to encourage students to obtain graduate-level skills without having to complete a thesis, with a sustainable agriculture program set to begin later this year, the release notes

“We have a 150-year history of developing innovators in Canada’s agriculture and food industry,” said Cranfield. “This gift is an important piece in our mission of attracting future leaders to pursue a career in the agri-food sector.”