Dr. C. Fred Bentley is a soil scientist who has worked internationally in agricultural education, research and extension with an emphasis on the maintenance of agricultural lands and the expansion of food production in developing countries.
Born in 1914 at Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dr. Bentley grew up on a farm near Edmonton and attended Edmonton Normal School. He taught school for three years before entering the University of Alberta and receiving a B.Sc. (Agriculture) and an M.Sc. (Soil Science). His Ph.D., also in soil science, is from the University of Minnesota.
After serving as an instructor in soil science at the University of Minnesota and as an assistant professor of soil science at the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Bentley returned to the University of Alberta as an assistant professor in 1946. He rose to become dean of the faculty of agriculture in 1959.
Ten years later, he resigned as dean to serve as the first special advisor in agriculture with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in Ottawa. On returning to Edmonton, he remained active at the University in teaching and international development assistance. In 1979, he became professor emeritus of soil science.
While Dr. Bentley has distinguished himself as an outstanding educator, he has also been a “conscience” for agriculture, both in Canada and internationally. He began his overseas work in development assistance in Sri Lanka in 1952. Over the years, he was a team leader for CIDA and other teams to India (1967), Sri Lanka (1979-1980), Indonesia (1980), China (1983), the Sudan (1984), sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel Region, Africa (1985) and Pakistan (1986).
From 1972 to 1982, he was chairman of the governing board of ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) in Hyderabad, India and played a major role in its development as one of the world’s major international agricultural research centres.
In 1985, he established the International Board for Soil Research Management with headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, an undertaking that attracted support from CIDA and other countries.
Dr. Bentley has been involved in establishing an agricultural university and a vocational agricultural college in Northern China, in planning a genetic resources bank for West Africa and in providing an assessment of national agricultural research capability in the Francophone countries of West Africa. He also led a CIDA team dryland agriculture project in Pakistan and served as a consultant for Canadian government agencies, the United Nations, the World Bank and numerous private organizations.
In addition to his international work, Dr. Bentley has contributed significantly to the national scene, in particular through strong and active support to professional agricultural organizations. He is past president of the International Society of Soil Science, the Canadian Society of Soil Science, the Agricultural Institute of Canada and the Alberta Institute of Agrologists. He is a fellow of six professional or scientific societies, including the Agricultural Institute of Canada and the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Bentley has received numerous honorary awards from industry and government in recognition of his far-ranging contributions to agriculture.
Dr. Bentley was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1987
This biography has been excerpted from the program of that induction ceremony. Mr. Bently is now deceased.
Executive Director, The Alberta Order of Excellence