Coming into focus

Belated Happy New Year and welcome back!  I realize our second semester’s start was unusual. Winter storms delayed many of our students’ return from the holiday break only to be followed by two closures due to storm conditions. I have limited history here but I wager that two storm closures in the space of three weeks is a record for NSCAD. Regardless, if everyone enjoyed the unexpected breaks as much as I did, everything is well.

Weather notwithstanding, we are well into the semester. As I reported to the Board recently, we begin the New Year at NSCAD with optimism that 2014 will present the University with greater clarity on its future than in the recent past. With the results of two major outstanding studies, the space utilization study, and the affiliation study, combined with sharpened mission and strategic plan, we should have all the planning pieces necessary for informed decision making regarding our future.

Once we have clarity on our facility needs and choices, we will be in a position to consider capital requirements.  In doing so, I am mindful of the need for the Province to continue its current level of support and assistance and our own ability to meet enrolment targets spelled out in the forecast for the 2013 Bilateral Report. The report projects modest increases in enrolment over the next five years. While we made improvements this year – almost but not quite eliminating a three-year annual decline in enrolment, and increasing substantially the number of transfer students – we still have a way to go to realize our projections for the next few years. I continue to be “bullish” on the enrolment front. My confidence is based on the following: a carefully crafted and funded recruitment plan; excellence of staff leading our enrolment strategies; our niche programs; and new collaborative programs which ought to attract new registrants.

Mary & Myself

Sam Decoste's Mary & Myself is nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for best documentary short.

As always, I am pleased to tell you about some student successes. MFA student Sam Decoste has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for her animated documentary Mary & Myself. The winner will be announced on CBC during a live gala hosted by Martin Short. Student Soohyum Shim was announced as a winner of the 2014 Niche Award for Jewellery in the student competition. Soohyum impressed with her sterling silver salt and pepper shakers in the category Metal: Functional. Sponsored by Niche magazine, the Niche Awards celebrate excellence and innovation in American and Canadian fine craft.

Our fashion/textiles faculty members continue to impress with their achievements. RPT Toshiko MacAdam is recently returned from Italy, where she created a site specific installation of one of her other-worldly crocheted playgrounds for the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma. If in Rome, be sure to see it; called Harmonic Motion, it will be on display for the whole of 2014. (Please see an image in the header, above.) Meanwhile, professor Gary Markle is getting a lot of interest in his research project, Design for Aging. He’ll be the special guest at the Alzheimer Research Breakfasts, in Halifax on January 30 at the Westin Nova Scotian and in Wolfville a day later at the Old Orchard Inn, Wolfville.

If you’ve noticed a snowy-haired student at the front of your art history class, that’s me. I’m auditing David Howard’s Survey of 19th Century Art. It’s fascinating and Prof. Howard is an engaging teacher. We’re so fortunate to have such exceptional teachers here at NSCAD.