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Ian Macdonald’s integrity and leadership made Fairview College a pioneer in Alberta’s college system. Under his leadership, the college successfully navigated a change in its governance structure and enjoyed exponential growth while remaining on a solid financial footing. He also helped the Alberta cattle industry earn its international reputation for high-quality beef.
Ian Malcolm Macdonald was born in 1932 in Fairview, Alberta, where he grew up on his family’s farm. In 1953, he graduated with honours from the first class of the Alberta School of Agriculture, now Fairview College. He went on to earn certificates in business administration (1968) and personnel management (1969) from the Western Co-operative College in Saskatoon, and in computers for farm management (1991) from Fairview College.
In 1978, Mr. Macdonald was appointed to a six-year term as the chair of Fairview College’s first board of governors. He returned for a second term in 1987 at the request of the Minister of Advanced Education, becoming the longest-serving board chair in the history of Alberta’s college system.
With Mr. Macdonald at the helm, Fairview College successfully navigated the transition from provincial administration to board governance. The college went through a $14 million expansion, growing from an enrollment base of 200 students on a single campus to more than 1,000 students on 12 satellite campuses located throughout northwestern Alberta. The college’s programming expanded from agricultural studies to include trades and full apprenticeship programs. Specialty programs such as beekeeping and motorcycle mechanics were introduced.
Fairview College awarded Mr. Macdonald an honorary diploma in 1997 for outstanding service to the college and the community of Fairview. He also received the Canada 125 Confederation Medal in recognition of his work on the college’s board of governors.
Ian Macdonald has also had a great impact on the development of Alberta’s beef industry. He was a member of the Alberta Schools of Agriculture Provincial Advisory Committee in 1962; a founding member and vice-chair of the Alberta Cattle Commission from 1969 to 1975; president of the Alberta Livestock Cooperative Ltd. from 1971 to 1978; and president of the Western Cooperative Livestock Markets from 1972 to 1975.
He managed the Peace River Livestock Co-op from 1961 to 1979, overseeing its growth from $500,000 in annual turnover to $7 million. The co-op’s businesses included a feed-processing plant and a livestock market, which shipped livestock throughout northwestern Alberta.
Ian Macdonald raised the profile of Aberdeen Angus cattle both in Alberta and internationally. He served as president of the Alberta Aberdeen Angus Association from 1978 to 1979 and as a member of the Canadian Aberdeen Angus Board of Directors from 1978 to 1983, when the “Quality Angus Beef” program was initiated. Now many high-end Canadian restaurants serve only Angus beef under strict quality controls. Aberdeen Angus cattle and bull semen from Mr. Macdonald’s Fairmac Farm have been shipped throughout Canada and exported into the United States, Japan and Australia.
Mr. Macdonald also has a distinguished record of service to his community and his country. He received the Queen’s Commission in the Royal Canadian Air Force Primary Reserve in 1954. In 1969, Mr. Macdonald was instrumental in establishing a much-needed veterinary clinic in Fairview. He served as a member of the Alberta Treasury Branches Agricultural Producers Advisory Committee in 1991, and was appointed to the Board of Directors in 1996. He has also served with the Royal Canadian Legion, the Masonic Lodge, and the Rotary Club of Fairview.
Throughout the 42 years of their marriage, Ian Macdonald and his late wife Mary worked side by side to develop their Aberdeen Angus cattle herd and serve their community.