Dr. Clayton M. Switzer

Clayton Macfie Switzer, visionary, leader and diplomat has served the industry of agriculture in several capacities using foresight, encouraging teamwork and managing resources with finesse. He continues to be active in consulting. Clay has an innate quality of judgment and perspective that encourages closure on difficult issues. His approach has always been professional, yet interspersed with a sense of humour. His competence has given him a broad array of experiences which he brings to the administrative decision making process.

Clay Switzer obtained early education in Middlesex County, a BSA from University of Toronto (OAC) and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. Then Dr. Switzer beginning as a lecturer in 1955, progressed through all the ranks to become Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College in 1972, a post in which he served until 1983.

Through his excellence in teaching at OAC, Clayton impacted positively a huge number of students who are now leaders in Canada’s modern agri-food industry. As a superb plant physiologist and weed scientist he worked closely with all in the industry, keeping efficacy and environmental concerns in perspective.

As Dean of OAC, he shaped the Ontario Agricultural College into a leading educational and research institution serving Ontario and Canada. He promoted quality in education and research programs, and developed a curriculum that recognized business aspects of agriculture.

During his years as Deputy Minister in the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (1984 to 1989) and afterwards, Clay led in policy formulation and implementation. He helped the National Task Force on Farm Finance to understand the finance problems that plagued farmers in the late-1980s. He built consensus on numerous occasions where disparate views were being promoted by federal and provincial ministers alike. He improved relationships between governments and other stakeholders in agriculture. Clay Switzer helped attract an increasing share of the provincial budget to the agriculture industry. Clay was able to improve the communication and understanding of environmental issues from the perspective of both producers and Ministry of Environment personnel.

Clay championed Guelph as a centre of excellence in food and food processing research, as well as in agriculture. He championed the turf grass industry, and negotiated a unique partnership among the industry, OMAFRA and the University of Guelph to create the Guelph Turfgrass Institute. He then led a fundraising drive that allowed industry to build the G.M. Frost Research and Information Centre and finance turf grass research on a continuing basis.

While president of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, Clay Switzer facilitated the resolution of internal problems to allow the institute to move forward as a respected voice in agricultural policy.

As executive director of the Canadian Federation of Deans of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Switzer guided through to implementation, the idea of accreditation to provide a positive impact on maintaining high quality in agricultural education programs in Canada.

Clay Switzer served on 18 industry councils and major committees, earned at least six academic awards and 14 honours or life memberships in institutes and associations.

Clayton and spouse Dorothy continue to live in Guelph, where they raised a family of three, participated in baseball and golf, and contributed to the well being of society.

Clayton Macfie Switzer has certainly earned a place of honour in the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Nominated By:
  • Agricultural Institute of Canada
  • OAC Alumni Association
  • Canadian Golf Superintendents Association
  • University of Guelph
  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs
  • Ontario Institute of Agrologists
  • Ontario Agricultural College (OAC)