A fresh start


Professor Dianne Taylor-Gearing

While the calendar tells us that January is the beginning of the year, for many of us in academia, September is our fresh start. The sketchbooks are clean and bright and those white pages beckon to be covered in creativity. Classes begin and we scan the room looking for familiar faces.

At NSCAD, this is the time when we see folks looking bewildered and lost, gazing at that map beside the elevator as if it’s an Escher drawing. At least that’s what I’ve heard, because I’m new here too, NSCAD University’s 21st President effective August 4, 2014.

I’ve been having lots of meetings and introductions to help get up to speed. I’ve sat down with Board Chair Grant Machum, several members of the Board of Governors, the executive of SUNSCAD and members of the NSCAD Alumni Association at their annual general meeting. I even had an interview with Don Connolly on CBC’s Information Morning; I hope my excitement about being here came through! I do hope to get acquainted with everyone here at NSCAD in the days and weeks to come. Please don’t feel shy about coming by and saying hello; just poke your head in if you see my door open or arrange a time with Stephanie Willan.

You may run into me during Orientation Week; SUNSCAD has a full slate of activities planned to welcome new and returning students and I’m delighted to be a part of it. Some of the highlights include: airport pick-up on Saturday, Aug. 30 and Sunday, Aug. 31 and a student orientation presentation and campus tours on Tuesday, Sept. 2. Later in the week, there’s a Halifax Gallery Tour and the Granville Block Party, both taking place on Saturday, Sept. 6. (Click for the full list of activities.)

This feels like the start of a very special academic year at NSCAD, thanks in large part to Margaret and David Fountain and their $3-million investment in NSCAD. This gives us a much-needed boost of confidence—not to mention the funds—to go forward and make improvements on our old and character-filled downtown campus. Get ready to hear a lot more about this in the weeks to come.

A big welcome to Dr. Ann Barbara Graff, also new to NSCAD. Dr. Graff is NSCAD’s new Dean and you can find her office on the third floor (Duke), Academic Affairs and Research.

As I wrap my first blog post as President 21, I’d like to say thank you to Dr. Daniel O’Brien for his tremendous contribution to NSCAD over the past two years. Thanks to him also for starting this blog as a way of keeping in touch with the NSCAD community near and far. I commit to continuing the communication and use it as one of the ways to get to know me as we move our university forward together.

Very best,

Professor Dianne Taylor-Gearing

Robert Frank

Coming soon: Robert Frank, Books, Films, 1947-2014 opens the fall season at the Anna Leonowens Gallery from Sept. 6 to 12. This image comes from the cover of his seminal book The Americans.


Also in September: From the Collection of Haruko Watanabe: MEISEN, an exhibition of kimonos from 1930s-1940s Japan, is being organized by Nancy Price and Naoko Furue. These boldly patterned and vibrantly colored kimonos and haoris are on display Sept. 16 to 27 at the Anna Leonowens Gallery. (Photo by Nancy Price)

Notes from the fourth floor


Welcome to my blog. I’ve never had one before but I thought this might be a good way to introduce myself and let you know what I’ve been up to since I arrived at NSCAD University about three weeks ago.

Did I say three weeks? The time has flown by as I’ve become more acquainted with ongoing issues at the university and met with stakeholders both on and off campus.

In saying hello, I must bid adieu to two important members of our NSCAD team: Laurelle LeVert, NSCAD’s Registrar and Director of Student Services, who is taking a position at the University of New Brunswick, and Tanja Harrison, University Librarian, who has already started at Mount Saint Vincent University. All the best to you both — you will be missed here at NSCAD!

There is, of course, one big file that is getting my attention and that is NSCAD’s Framework for Sustainability, which was prepared for the Department of Labour and Advanced Education at the end of March. In the coming days and weeks, I will be re-examining the plan in consultation with senior staff and the Board of Governors to decide how to proceed while we await the government’s official response. Some aspects, however, are already in play. You may notice that the university is getting some new tenants at the Granville campus; that is part of a plan to bring in new revenue by maximizing the campus’s rental potential.

I’ve arrived at a wonderful time for the university. NSCAD has been getting some terrific exposure in the media for two events in particular: Artist for a Day which happened on the Halifax waterfront on May 12 and the opening of Oh, Canada at MASS MoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, Mass., on May 26th weekend. I’ve heard nothing but raves for Artist for a Day, which turned into such a great family event for Halifax. No doubt some of the kids who had their hands in clay, hammed it up in front of the green screen or watched the steamroller press a print that day will be applying to become NSCAD students in a few years.

NSCAD should be justly proud of its representation in Oh, Canada, the largest exhibition of Canadian contemporary art north or south of the border in years. One-third of the artists and curators at the show have NSCAD connections—which speaks to the university’s incredible role in shaping generations of artists and critical thinkers.

“I remember when I was in college, in grad school, I remember hearing about this place called NSCAD,” said Oh, Canada curator Denise Markonish, in an interview with CBC Radio. “So when I started doing the show and I discovered it for myself, (I realized) what an amazing legacy this place has had. It’s unbelievable that a college like this exists that has bred generation after generation of phenomenal artists. I’m really proud of having all these NSCAD connections here.”

Linda Hutchison, director of University Relations, alumni & development, tells me it felt like old home week at MASS MoCA since there were so many familiar faces there, including alumni and faculty members past and present. I should mention that Linda was able to organize an alumni event during Oh, Canada’s opening weekend through the generosity of NSCAD board member Rob Dimitrieff (BFA 2003). A big thank you to Rob. I wasn’t able to make the opening myself, but the show will be up for almost a year so there’s plenty of time to make plans for a visit.

As for this blog, I hope to update it regularly and let you know what I’m up to. Throughout the summer, I hope to meet with faculty and staff in small groups to introduce myself and to find out more about the programs at NSCAD. I’ve got a lot to learn and I want to listen to what you say.

In the meantime, if you see me in the hall or in the elevator, please say hello. I’m the guy in the suit (at least until July). Or, come up to the fourth floor anytime. I’m looking forward to meeting you.

Until next time,