Tocal College celebrates staff and ex-staff who have been remarkable leaders since the college took on its first group of students.

Our principals


Colin Ford BSc. 1963-1967

Colin Ford BSc. was the first Principal of Tocal appointed by EA Hunt. His term in office was a difficult one. There was the difficulty of having to work on a campus where buildings were under construction and where facilities were often primitive; there was the responsibility of appointing and directing new members of staff; the pressing need to design and implement curriculum.

But the most pressing problem was having to administer a large enterprise where monies were allocated to capital expenditure rather than running costs. As a mark of appreciation for his services, the students commissioned a studio portrait of their Principal to be donated to the College.

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George McFarlane OAM 1967-1981

George McFarlane was appointed Deputy Principal and founding staff member in 1965. In 1967 he was appointed Acting Principal and later confirmed as Principal. He served the College in this capacity for 14 years until his retirement in 1981. He took the reins of Tocal at a turbulent time in its history and successfully oversaw the transition of the College from the Presbyterian Church to the NSW Department of Agriculture.

During his tenure as Principal, he won the respect of staff and students and was visionary in his outlook, producing a strategic plan for the college that was ahead of its time. George McFarlane died unexpectedly at Coffs Harbour in 2013 aged 89. He recalled those formative years at Tocal: "We were a small band of people setting out on the adventure of a lifetime."

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John Drinan PhD 1981-1987

John Drinan first joined the staff at the newly formed CB Alexander Agricultural College as a visiting lecturer. He then set off for a career in sheep and cattle research at Trangie Research Station before undertaking a PhD at Macquarie University. He was appointed senior lecturer and agricultural course coordinator at Hawkesbury Agricultural College. Working for seven years under Head of School, Professor Richard Bawden's 'brave new world' of experiential learning, John returned to Tocal to take up the role as Principal.

John didn't dictate change, but by circulating questions among all staff he challenged current thinking and approaches and stimulated debate. He embodied the concept of experiential learning. 

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Cameron Archer PSM AM PhD 1987-2015

After losing his home in the devastation of Cyclone Tracy in 1974, Cameron visited Tocal and applied for the position of Agronomy Lecturer. He held this position until being appointed Senior Lecturer in 1981, then Deputy Principal in 1985. With the departure of Principal John Drinan in 1987, Cameron was the natural successor. 

During his career, Cameron has been widely recognised for his significant service to agricultural education, and to heritage management and conservation. He was awarded the Medal in the Order of Australia in 2013. The list of awards, board and industry memberships and publications produced during his tenure shows that he works at a frenetic pace, but always with a firm influence on the culture, events and developments of the College.

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