Listening and learning

With the trees turning brilliant shades, warm temperatures and misty mornings, it has been a wonderful Fall to live in Nova Scotia by the sea.

As promised for the beginning of my tenure, I have been listening and learning—I’ve been made to feel so welcome and am impressed with the love and commitment for NSCAD that I’ve seen and the willingness to work together to secure a long and prosperous future.

I attended my first exhibition opening at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, my first Board of Governors meeting, my first CONSUP (Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents) meeting, my first NSCAD fundraiser and much more. I also met with Ray Cronin and members from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, attended the opening of Teichert Gallery, toured the Mary Pratt show, and visited scenic Lunenburg on the invitation of Senator Wilfred Moore to see the Lunenburg School of Arts, meeting NSCAD Alumni and sharing their enthusiasm for the benefits of the Residency Programs.


Here I am at the NSCAD Welcome Reception with long-time employees Terry Wade and Debra Campbell.

Some highlights from the Fall so far:

NSCAD’s 2013-14 Annual Report was presented to the Board of Governors at the AGM on Sept. 25. Taking inspiration from Margaret Fountain’s stirring words as she made the announcement of a $3-million gift for NSCAD, the report is filled with beautiful photographs of the textures of our historic character-filled campus that Mrs. Fountain spoke of so fondly. The report documents the year under the stewardship of Dr. Daniel O’Brien—a great deal of detailed work that provides a framework to start fresh as the 21st President of NSCAD. The Annual Report concludes with the fascinating story of Elizabeth Williams, a 1928 graduate of the Victoria School of Art and Design. Elizabeth, an artist, traveler and free spirit, died last November at the age of 106.

Speaking of the Fountain donation, there have been two consultation meetings as we decide collectively our priorities on how to enhance the student experience at the Fountain Campus. You may have already noticed the planned exterior paint work is underway and soon there will be new signage. Ideas raised during the consultations have been taken into consideration by the Academic Resources Committee, which is tasked with defining the principles for a design brief for the architects. Stay tuned for further developments on this exciting file!

I always like to find the reasons to be cheerful and there’s more good news for NSCAD on the enrolment front. The figures on enrolment by the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) are now out—and NSCAD is a bright spot on the charts. After a few years of declines, our enrolment is on the way up. We recorded a 2.7% improvement in full-time plus part-time enrolments this year, one of few gains noted by the AAU this year. Our total enrolment is at 950 students, up from 925 students last year. Some of the biggest gains we’ve experienced have come from new transfer students and new international students, who come to NSCAD primarily from China, Brazil and the United States.

Kudos to the staff in the Admissions Office and to the collective effort of everyone here at NSCAD!


Prof. Sol Nagler and researcher Andrew Hicks won the top prize at the Mobile HCI conference in Toronto recently. (Eliot Wright Photo)

Kudos also to Associate Professor Solomon Nagler and Alumnus Andrew Hicks (BFA ’10) and their team for achieving the top prize, the Design Competition and Future Innovations Award at the 16th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices & Services. The group was recognized  for their App Narratives, a geo-locative interactive application for iOS and Android devices. The conference known as Mobile HCI took place in Toronto from September 23-26, 2014. Funded primarily by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and GRAND: Canada’s Digital Media Research Network this represents significant international recognition of NSCAD University’s leading role in research and innovation.


I got to model one of the beautiful kimonos from the collection of Haruko Watanabe for the exhibition Meisen at the Anna Leonowens Gallery. (Eliot Wright Photo)

An important planning retreat day for me was with Dr. Kenn Honeychurch, Provost and VP Academic Affairs and Research, and Sharon Johnson-Legere, VP Finance and Administration, as we took a detailed look at 2014-15 budget planning assumptions. In a landscape of uncertain economic times, declining revenues from the province, demographic shift, higher student expectations and rising costs, the goal to achieve a balanced budget is a big challenge. We arrived at an ambitious plan to do so and the next step is for us all to work together to assess the impact and risks of the plan. This will develop in tandem with the progress on the Strategic Plan so alignment can be achieved and we can laser focus upon priorities over the coming year.

One more exciting development to note, in the vacuum left by Seeds Gallery, University Relations is planning a NSCAD show and sale of student work that we’re calling Pop Up in the Christmas Shop. A call for submissions will go out very soon. Save the dates and your dollars for this exciting expression of NSCAD creativity. The show will take place Friday, Nov. 28 and Saturday, Nov. 29 at 1880 Hollis Street, the former location of Christmas by the Sea, next door to the NSCAD Art Supply Shop.

Thank you all for making every day so special.

Warm regards,
Professor Dianne Taylor-Gearing

P.S. Here are some other important dates to put on your calendar:

  • The Student Awards Reception takes place Wednesday, Nov. 5, 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. at the Anna Leonowens Gallery.
  • Hungry Bowls, a charity fundraiser put on by the Ceramics Department, is set for Thursday, Nov. 6, 6 p.m. in the Port Loggia Gallery.