October 15, 2015
The Guelph Turfgrass Institute (GTI) announced that its director Rob Witherspoon retired in September, after a 28-year career with the University of Guelph. The past 20 years he was the director of the GTI.

Witherspoon joined the university in 1987 as manager of the Independent Study Ontario Diploma in Horticulture correspondence program after working as a turf management instructor and grounds superintendent at Fairview College in northern Alberta.

In 1994, Witherspoon was appointed as the first full-time director of the Guelph Turfgrass Institute. In addition to managing GTI programs, he led the development of the new Associate Diploma in Turfgrass Management program and has been the diploma program director and an instructor since the program began in 2003. More recently he was engaged in the planning process for the relocation of the GTI to a new location closer to the main Guelph campus.

“With the GTI relocation planning process in place, it seemed like the right time to step aside and allow those who will be supporting and working at the new facility for the next twenty years to take the lead in designing and building the new GTI to meet their needs,” said Witherspoon.

In announcing Witherspoon’s retirement, Department of Plant Agriculture chair Peter Pauls wrote, “Rob’s dedication to the turfgrass students and the industry has been outstanding and his guidance of the Turf Managers’ Short Course and Superintendent in Residence activities have put the Guelph turfgrass program on national and international stages.”

Witherspoon says he plans to work on some special projects in the turfgrass industry on a part-time basis, but also hopes to have more time for family, friends, golf, music, travel and other interests. His replacement will be announced shortly.