September’s new beginnings

Fall brings a sense of new beginnings: a brand new sketchbook, a page full of possibilities, an eagerness to splash some color on the white!

There is an exciting vibe around NSCAD as new students from all parts of the globe arrive and many others return, embracing friends with inquiries about their summer adventures. We exchange our experiences of travel far and wide, of NSCAD acquaintances encountered in unexpected places.

For those of us in academia, fall is the true start of a new year. Although NSCAD has two sessions of classes throughout the summer, it’s quieter than rest of the school year and so it’s wonderful to see the hallways and classrooms full again. The schedule of events at the Anna Leonowens Gallery and the Art Bar are set; the Atlantic Film Festival and Nocturne are around the corner; and my calendar is full to bursting with openings and special events. There is so much to do here at NSCAD. I personally invite you to participate.

Link: This fall at the Anna

The fall schedule at the Anna Leonowens Gallery opens on Monday, Sept. 12 with the Lunenburg Residency 10th Anniversary Exhibition. I’ll get a sneak peek of that exhibition tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 6) when it opens first at the Lunenburg studio with Senator Wilfred Moore, Lunenburg Mayor Rachel Bailey and alumni of the program in attendance. The exhibition is comprised of artworks from Senator Moore’s personal collection, including a work from each and every Lunenburg resident over those 10 years.

NSCAD alumni aboard tall ship

Some alumni of the NSCAD-Lunenburg Community Studio Residency Program: Andrew Maize, Nadia Gemeinhardt, Lynette de Montreuil, Kat Frick Miller, Jason Skinner and Rebecca Roher. Marilyn Smulders Photo.

Link: Celebrating 10 years in Lunenburg

September marks the changing of the guard at our residency programs. In Lunenburg, Julie Wagner, Lux Habrich and Marley Johnson have moved out of the three-bay studio of the former Lunenburg fire hall, while Selina LaTour, Denirée Isabel Mendoza and Norma Jean MacLean are moving in. At the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning in Dartmouth, Caitlin McGuire and Kelsey Pearson have finished their residencies, while Cinthia Arias Auz, Jessica Lynn Wiebe and Luis Figero are just starting.

With new beginnings, there are always endings. I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Professors Frances Dorsey, Robin Muller and Alvin Comiter, who’ve retired from teaching after many, many years at NSCAD. At the same time, we welcome our newest faculty members: art educator April Mandrona in Art History and Critical Studies, professors Elena Brebenel and Jennifer Green in Textiles/Fashion, and Marcia Connolly in Film. As well, Dr. James Barmby is our new Associate Vice President, Student Experience and Registrar, and Paul Maher, is our new Director of Teaching and Learning.

Frances Dorsey Robin Muller

Retired professors Frances Dorsey and Robin Muller pose in front of their work at a retrospective exhibition held earlier in the summer at the Anna Leonowens Gallery. Photo courtesy of Tim Krochak, Local XPress


Speaking of Paul, he and NSCAD librarian Rebecca Young have helped facilitate in the creation of NSCAD’s Learning Commons, which you can find on the second floor of the Fountain Campus (third floor of the NSCAD Library). This airy, bright space promises to be a new gathering space at NSCAD. Take a moment to stop by and check it out.

nscad learning commons

NSCAD’s new Learning Commons – a comfortable “collision space.” Marilyn Smulders Photo.

To everyone at NSCAD – faculty, staff, students, alumni – I propose a toast (let’s make it apple cider). Cheers to fall and new beginnings!


P.S. The quintessentially summery picture at the top of this blog is by Erica Flake, one of the students who camped at Kejimkujik National Park in August as part of the class, Parks Canada: Keji, taught by Anna Sprague.

Here we go go


This gallery contains 12 photos.

The month of May was a whirlwind of activities and celebrations—a time filled with emotion for the NSCAD community. The sudden deaths of two long-serving staff members and a student in one week was devastating news. We came together for … Continue reading

100 Days of Listening and Learning

Textiles/Fashion Breakthrough

This is exciting news for NSCAD’s Fountain Campus. Textiles/Fashion students no longer have to climb a set of stairs, go outside, climb another set of stairs, go inside and then go down set of stairs to travel between the two areas. Textiles, on the Hollis Street side of the Fountain Campus, and Fashion, on the Granville Mall side, have been joined together. The two technicians, Anke Fox and Leesa Hamilton, came together for a symbolic ribbon cutting on the last day of classes for the fall term.


Anke Fox (textiles) and Leesa Hamilton (fashion) come together for a symbolic ribbon cutting. The two areas are now connected with a doorway and short hall on the second floor of the Fountain Campus. (Eliot Wright Photo)

Connecting with community

Playful art – Kudos to NSCAD student Catherine Laroche and Professor Rory MacDonald for the Barrington Blocks project.

“It’s been an incredible experience, a huge learning curve,” says Catherine, who decided to transfer from Concordia University to NSCAD after a campus visit, falling in love with the school and the city, its friendliness and creative vibe. “It’s one thing to make art for a class, but to make art like this in a real-world setting is amazing.”
Barrington Blocks comprises ceramic blocks in shades of blue-grey, orange, yellow and green that can be turned to create simple images or to spell out messages. Each block measures 3½” by 3½” and there are 384 altogether, arranged on aluminum poles.
Barrington Blocks

As a demonstration of NSCAD’s contribution to our community, Prof. Rory MacDonald and student Catherine LaRoche worked on the Barrington Blocks art commission — a lively interactive art project for the downtown.

Dine by Design East – This was a fabulous event created by a remarkable volunteer group, of which NSCAD Board Member Elizabeth Currie was a leading driver. I was able to attend the Thursday evening gala and the Friday fashion show. Proceeds from Dine by Design East will go to the Amber Harkins Memorial Fund; the first scholarship from the fund will be awarded to a design student for January 2015 semester.

Stephanie Beaumont of Sea and Be Scene dedicated an entire show to the event, and interviewed me as part of her report. I really appreciated the chance to talk about the university and what we offer.  Here is a link to the segment.

Attica dining room

A look at the dining room “Breaking Bread” designed by NSCAD alumni Suzanne Saul and Christopher Joyce of Attica Furnishings–complete with a portrait of pop star Miley Cyrus in toast!

Engagement with alumni – As part of my 100 Days of Listening and Learning, I have been delighted to meet with so many NSCAD alumni and discover the depth of passion they have for their university. My question when I meet them is “What can NSCAD do for you?” and I have heard from quite a few people. Just recently at the Progress Women of Excellence dinner, I was pleased to join in celebrating Stephanie Young, a recent alumnae honoured for her volunteer work at Laing House, and Peggy Issenman, the owner of Peggy & Co. Design.  My message of openness and listening was repeated in VIVID, the e-newsletter for alumni which was sent out recently.

Student Awards Reception – The Student Awards Reception was held on November 5th, the birthday of founder Anna Leonowens. The occasion brought together student award recipients and the donors that make those awards, scholarships and bursaries possible.  NSCAD student Julie Hall, a Scotiabank scholarship winner, was one of the two guest speakers.  Our other guest speaker was Gordon Brost, Scotiabank’s District Vice-President.  Mr. Brost announced at $150,000 gift as a renewed five-year commitment to NSCAD. As well as funding more scholarships in the future, Scotiabank is now the presenting sponsor of Artist for a Day, NSCAD’s community event in the spring.

We celebrated the Student Awards Reception with a slice of Anna Leonowens' birthday cake. Gordon Brost of Scotiabank joined us at the reception for a welcome announcment.

We celebrated the Student Awards Reception with a slice of Anna Leonowens’ birthday cake. Gordon Brost of Scotiabank joined us at the reception for a welcome announcment.

Pop-Up at the Christmas Shop – NSCAD’s newest initiative, “Pop-Up at the Christmas Shop,” was held Nov. 28 and 29 in the former Christmas By the Sea location, 1880 Hollis Street. More than 60 students took part by selling their own works: jewellery, prints, paintings, ceramics, textiles, fashion and more. When I arrived on Friday evening, it was already packed and super busy! I felt so proud to see what our students accomplished and have the community welcomed to our campus. I’m happy to say that all the proceeds, approximately $20,000*, went right back to the students.

(* except for a small percentage on debit transactions)

pop-up shop

NSCAD’s Pop-up at the Christmas Shop attracted steady business to the Fountain Campus on Nov. 28 and 29.

University business

Provost and VP Academic and Research searchThe position is now posted. Our hope to achieve the appointment of Provost and VP Academic and Research by July 2015.

Budget Advisory Committee – As part of a commitment to deliver a balanced budget in 2015-2016, members of the Budget Advisory Committee joined a meeting of Chairs and Directors on November 24. The Vice-President of Finance and Administration invited ideas for budget reductions or revenue boosters using a risk-impact approach. The group met again earlier this week to do concentrated work on this important file.

Very best wishes for the holiday season!

Professor Dianne Taylor-Gearing

P.S. The image in the header shows one of the textiles on display during the textile Open House on the last day of classes, December 10th.

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)

Let’s go for a coffee

As we move into the summer season, I thought you might be interested in hearing about what has been on my plate.

First, we are rapidly closing in on the completion dates for our two major studies—the Affiliation Study and the Space Study. Much of my time has been devoted to providing information to the consultants and reviewing briefing updates. As you know, these studies will require important consideration and decisions by NSCAD. Accordingly, I expect that we will be convening information and discussion opportunities with internal stakeholder groups towards the end of the summer. Please stay posted.


I had the pleasure of meeting Judith Rickard and Jean Hogan recently. Their dear friend, Joan DeWolfe, bequeathed half her estate to NSCAD. The significant gift provides endowed funding for graduate scholarships and support for youth to participate in Extended Studies programs.

Second, upon receiving funding from the Province, we will be posting an RFP for consultants to lead a comprehensive re-visioning and strategic planning exercise through the fall. Like the prior item, this will be a significant undertaking for NSCAD and will include participation opportunities from all our stakeholder groups.

Speaking of an RFP, Impact Communications was the design firm that was successful in winning the NSCAD rebranding project. The funding for this project, which relates specifically to student recruitment, comes from a significant donation received last year by an anonymous donor.

Design student Brittney Annand received first honorarium at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission’s Art and Design Exposition, which took place at CASHRA’s National Human Rights Conference at the end of May. Congratulations to the students and professors involved in this impressive project.

Third, a small task for the Board of Governors has been finalizing bylaw resolutions necessary to operationalize board governance changes. These changes consist of reducing the number of standing committee through consolidation, greater specificity of committee mandates, and reporting protocols. The intention is to make the changes at the AGM in September.

Aside from these major files, I have been very busy on the representational front, attending numerous meetings and public events and talking to people about NSCAD and the significant progress we’ve made.

I intend to be on site for the summer and would enjoy having coffee with anyone who reads this blog. I am interested in hearing more of the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges faced by members of the community and receiving any advice you wish to share. Please feel free to call or to drop by the office to schedule a time to meet.

In the meantime, I wish you all an enjoyable and safe summer.

Yours truly,


Wood mayhem

This room-sized sculpture by NSCAD part-time faculty member Steve Higgins is on display at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery until the end of July.

Making strides

As we reflect on the end of another academic year, we have much to be thankful for at NSCAD. Of course, I am aware of the many challenges we have faced, but the true test of our institutional resilience is not the number of challenges but the quality of our response.  In a nutshell, our collective response to our various challenges has, in my estimation, been nothing short of remarkable.

Artist for a Day

Artist for a Day, held May 11th at the Port Campus, was a wonderful event, showing NSCAD as an active community partner. The ceramics studio was just one of many busy spots. (Steve Farmer Photo)

Consider the list:

  • Board governance overhaul;
  • stellar 125 anniversary celebrations and special events;
  • receipt of government funding for the affiliation and space studies (and on our terms);
  • completion of two mandated reports to government – Institutional Outlook Report and a second sustainability report;
  • successful contract negotiations with our two teaching units;
  • harmonization of relations with the Province;
  • five highly successful events – launch of the I AM NSCAD campaign, Starfish Student Art Awards, Artist for a Day, the launch of the 2013 Graduation Catalogue and the Graduation ceremony;
  • increased positive community profile as evidenced by positive media reporting (see list below of stories in the media gathered in a two-week period);
  • launch of a strategic planning process;
  • and perhaps most important, over achievement of deficit reduction goals.
Anna Leonowens Gallery

The launch of the 2013 Graduation Catalogue at the Anna Leonowens Gallery on May 17 was a celebratory event. (Marilyn Smulders Photo)

I continue to believe that our ultimate strength as an institution (program excellence notwithstanding) depends on our ability to demonstrate financial sustainability – and we are well on our way to doing this. The fiscal environment in which we find ourselves, combined with an activist government funding partner makes financial sustainability a primary concern.

By way of future plans, we will need to invest greater effort in building internal consensus among our various stakeholder groups. A major first initiative in this regard is the strategic re-visioning process proposed by our Strategic Planning Committee. The process will be guided by engagement principles which are intended to mobilize participation by all in our school community.

Starfish Awards

Chatting with Teto Elsiddique, one of 10 finalists, at the Starfish Student Art Awards on May 2. (Luke Clarridge Photo)

Looking further, we can expect a busy summer as we receive the reports of our two consultant-led studies, which will trigger important decisions on our institutional future.  We also begin early work on the strategic planning initiative; firming up board governance change recommendations; and finally, initiate a university-wide campaign to meet our student enrolment objectives.

As I conclude, I am reminded that I had every belief that this would be my last blog post as president, but as you are aware, my departure plans have been delayed, so I will save reminisces and reflections for a later time.  In its place, I should like to close with a wish to all for a healthy, restful and safe summer.

Best wishes,


P.S. Here is only a sample of the media coverage NSCAD, alumni and students received over the past month. Highlights include the nationwide opening of NSCAD grad Jason Buxton’s feature film Blackbird (which has since won an award at Cannes Ecrans Junior), Artist for a Day and Open City, the Starfish Awards and a collaboration between NSCAD’s Design Division and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.



A report on reports

I want to bring you up to date on the status of the two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) which were a component of our Framework for Sustainability (PDF). As you will recall, the Province of Nova Scotia agreed to fund the studies late in November.

The RFPs were posted in early December and attracted eight submissions. Following careful vetting, the firms ATN Consulting Inc. and Educational Consulting Services were selected and both are in the early phases of their work.

To oversee their work, we have established a liaison committee. Representing NSCAD on the committee are: myself, Acting President; Sharon Johnson Legere, VP Finance & Administration; Kenn Honeychurch, VP Academic and Provost; Sarah Trower, President, SUNSCAD; Professor Glen Hougan; Board members Ian Austen and Ross Cantwell. Representing the province on the committee are: Ava Czapalay, Senior Executive Director Higher Education; and Nancy Vanstone, consultant to the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

Here’s a bit more information on the studies. The Space Utilization Study being conducted by ECS will examine two sets of questions we need answered. First, how much space does NSCAD require given our existing program mix? Do our three campuses adequately serve our space requirements? Secondly, could either of our potential partner universities accommodate new construction on their campuses sufficient to satisfy NSCAD’s needs should affiliation occur and assuming the Granville Campus will no longer be used? I should mention that ECS is very familiar with our type of educational institution, having done most of the spatial studies for art and design universities in Canada.

The second study, A Feasibility Study to Explore an Affiliation Between NSCAD University and Dalhousie University or NSCAD University and Saint Mary’s University, will be done by ATN Consulting Inc., a local firm with solid credentials and familiarity with each of the universities with which we are exploring affiliation potential.

I know that even the mention of the word “affiliation” conjures up negative associations for many. However, I should remind you that we have been obligated by the Province through the Windsor Report (PDF) to be open to exploration of enhanced collaborations with local universities.

In signaling its openness to explore closer relationships, the Board of Governors placed numerous conditions on the type of relationship that could be explored. Specifically, the proposal identifies the strategic option to be explored is: “to fully investigate opportunities for affiliation with Dalhousie University or Saint Mary’s University which does not adversely affect NSCAD’s academic, financial and governance sovereignty.” Furthermore, this mandate is qualified by 18 conditions which must be adhered to in the investigation.

I know there has been much confusion around the terms “collaboration,” “merger,” “amalgamation,” and “affiliation.” These terms mean much different things. The only form of closer association between NSCAD and the other two universities being investigated in this study is affiliation. We believe that this is the only form of institutional realignment which will protect NSCAD’s autonomy and independence.

I invite you to look at the terms of both studies:

Please note that the heart of both proposals begins on page 22. The first 21 pages contain tender specifications.

I addition to the two RFPs, I am making another report mandated by the Province available for your reference. All of Nova Scotia’s universities were expected to prepare this report using a common template of seven overarching questions in which to describe its hopes and aspirations for the future.

The Bilateral Report: Institutional Outlook (PDF) was submitted to the Province on January 31, 2013 and represents the work of senior academic and administrative officers of the university who worked tirelessly to meet the tight deadline.

As always, your comments are invited.

Where we stand

Please receive this message as my best understanding of the current status of the university with its Framework for Sustainability. By way of background, all or most would know that we have been implementing Plan A of our sustainability plan which was submitted to the Province on March 28, 2012. While the implementation of the plan has not been without difficulty and sacrifice, the results have produced predicted and significant reductions in our operating deficit for the current fiscal year. We have been able to half the deficit projected from where we would be, had we done nothing. You will also know that we have been awaiting a decision by the Province to proceed with the implementation of Plan B. This plan is more ambitious and, if implemented, would have allowed the university to achieve almost immediate balanced budgets for the present and foreseeable future.

The principle component of this plan was dependent upon a provincially funded Early Retirement Incentive Plan (ERIP). The plan envisioned phased but manageable reductions in our employee complement by twinning early retirement with a non-replacement of vacated positions. The complement reduction to the plan was to be guided by a commitment to protect program integrity. There were other components in Plan B but this was the principle one.

Now fast forward to January 2013, the Province communicated formally its response to the outstanding requests contained in our sustainability plan. In that letter, it confirmed the following:

  1. Commitment to cover (up to $1.364 million) our 2012-2013 projected operating budget deficit;
  2. By an earlier decision (November 21, 2012), the province agreed to fund the two studies proposed in our sustainability plan—namely, a Space Utilization Study and an Affiliation Feasibility Study. The first study’s aim is to determine the efficiency with which we use our current space and ascertain what our spatial needs would be if we were to leave the Granville Campus. This study would also assess the capability of Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s to accommodate new construction on their respective campuses should we decide to affiliate.

The second study is intended to conduct a thorough, cost/benefit, risk assessment of a potential partnership/affiliation with either Dalhousie University or Saint Mary’s University. Please keep in mind that these studies will not be exploring merger options, a much mentioned fear. Rather, the studies will be conducted in such a manner as to ensure that affiliation options will not adversely affect NSCAD’s academic, financial and governance sovereignty. In other words, any affiliation must ensure that NSCAD retains control over its academic programs and regulations, including the appointment and promotion of faculty, control of its finances, and control over its management through an independent Board of Governors.

New information conveyed in the letter (dated January 10, 2013) stipulates that NSCAD needs to submit a new three-to-five year sustainability plan by March 15, 2013 that includes the following:

  • a financial plan to eliminate the current unsustainable level of debt servicing costs;
  • a detailed plan for how the university will meet current and future needs for office, classroom and workshop facilities on an sustainable basis;
  • a plan to take full and effective advantage of opportunities provided by one or more universities and identified and elaborated through the upcoming affiliation study and facilities review; and
  • a formal commitment by NSCAD Board of Governors to fully implement these elements of the sustainability plan.

The letter also states that decisions regarding new student fees rest with NSCAD, subject to review by the Province to ensure proper student consultations have occurred. Finally, the letter states that increases in tuition fees above the approved three per cent level will be addressed through the MOU process underway with the Province’s universities.

Notable by its absence is the central plank our 2012 Framework for Sustainability – a measured contraction of our employee footprint to be financed through a provincially funded Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP). It is important to note that the Province has not officially refused to fund this part of our sustainability plan, but its omission suggests that it is highly unlikely that we will be able to proceed with this part of our plan. However, I have been advised informally that while the government is not interested in direct funding (grant) of an ERIP, they have still not ruled out the possibility of introducing a SOFI loan program, which we would be eligible to apply for to support an ERIP. The savings to our budget with such a plan would be less than if we received a grant but would still be considerable. Please note the Province has not made a decision as yet on the reintroduction of a SOFI Plan. Therefore, while our position is subject to change, until instructed otherwise, this part of our 2012 sustainability plan is on hold.

I also wish to inform you that I have written to the Province to convey my surprise with the apparent shift of focus from the removal of operating deficits to the elimination of our debt. In the same letter, I have asked for further clarification of the conditions they have made for the payment of our 2012-13 operating deficit. As it now stands, the time lines they have set presuppose consultant study results, which are not likely to be available until May.

Essentially, this is my best read of the situation as I understand it. Unfortunately, the situation is still very fluid and subject to change as we receive more clarification from the Province. I will endeavor to keep you informed as I receive clarification. In the meantime, we will continue to “stay the course” with Plan A, which has allowed us to meet budget targets for this year. The executive committee of the board will meet at the end of this week to formalize its response to the aforementioned letter from the Province. As well, we will consult the community as best we can as we develop a debt reduction plan as requested by the Province by March 15, 2013 – a daunting task.

Yours truly,

P.S. I intend to outline for you details surrounding how NSCAD is currently funded, including the grants we receive from the Province. I know it is part of popular belief at NSCAD that we are under-funded by the Province and all we need to do to remove our deficit is to demand larger grants from the Province. I hope to share with you some facts that will dispel that belief.

Autumn update

It’s been awhile since I last made a post—so let’s get right to it.

So hard to decide! They were all so interesting.

Hungry Bowls

Students in the ceramics department did a terrific job with Hungry Bowls, the fundraiser in which you buy a bowl of delicious soup and get to take home the bowl. Approximately 250 people took in the event on Thursday, Oct. 25, many of whom bought extra bowls when they just couldn’t decide on one. More than $7,000 was raised for Adsum House and Hope Cottage. Many people need to be thanked for this wonderful event—the students, the staff and faculty, as well as the restaurants which so generously donated soup and bread.


After the usual fluctuation in enrolment numbers, I can now report the following: our full-time undergraduate has decreased by 26 students or -3.3 per cent. Our graduate enrolment has increased by two students (29 total) or +7.4 per cent. Our total full-time enrolment, undergraduate and graduate, stands at 797, which is 24 fewer students than last year, or a 2.9 per cent decrease.

Visa student enrolment presents a more positive picture. We registered 28 more students than last year or a 31.1 per cent increase which is the highest percentage increase in the Atlantic region. We now have 118 visa students at NSCAD.

Interestingly, our full-time first year enrolment is up by 16 students or 13.9 per cent. This increase is offset by a decrease in new transfer students—down 16 students.

Comparatively, NSCAD did relatively well this year. Undergraduate enrolment in the Atlantic region was virtually flat (.4 per cent increase). Seven universities recorded decreases with full-time students and eight regional universities recording decreases with part-time students. In both cases, NSCAD’s decreases were not the worst.

Of the 16 regional universities, only five universities recorded increases in full-time first-year enrolment—with NSCAD reporting the highest increase.

In summary, we missed some targets and exceeded others. In the months ahead, we will give priority to refining and increasing our recruitment efforts with the aim of reversing overall trends and expanding opportunities in areas in which we have experienced growth.

Framework for Sustainability

We are still awaiting decisions from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education on several fronts, including support for early retirement incentive funding; a cost/benefit study on affiliation with either Saint Mary’s University or Dalhousie; and a thorough space utilization study.

With luck, we should have clarification from the Province on these issues by early November.


Over the past month, I have represented NSCAD at numerous meetings and events, notably CONSUP (Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents), AAU (Association of Atlantic Universities), AUCC (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) and AICAD (Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design). The latter meeting was very beneficial as I was able to learn of experiences and challenges facing art and design schools across the continent. I was particularly interested in an AICAD initiative which may have immediate benefit for NSCAD. AICAD is in the final stages of a rebranding and communications project which will advance the value of all art and design schools. While developed primarily for an American audience, I can see many applications to our efforts to revise and update our recruitment and communication materials.


Range Light

NSCAD professor Kim Morgan won the Masterworks Art Award for Range Light, Borden-Carleton.

Several of our NSCAD faculty members and alumni did very well at the Creative Nova Scotia bash on Saturday, Oct. 27. Professor Kim Morgan, a sculptor and installation artist, won the big prize, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Art Award for her work of art, Range Light Borden-Carleton PEI. This incredible work is now on display as part of Oh, Canada at MASS MoCA in the U.S.; it was created in the summer of 2010 with the help of a crew of NSCAD students and is an actual latex cast of a decommissioned range light.

Other NSCAD alumni winners on Saturday include: Sandra Brownlee, an RPT appointee in Textiles/Fashion, receiving $3,000 as a finalist for the Masterworks Art Award; Sarah Maloney, who teaches part-time in NSCAD’s Foundation program, recognized with a $5,000 Established Artist Recognition Award; and Thom Fitzgerald, filmmaker and playwright, awarded the $18,000 Portia White Prize.

Rod McDonald and Hanno Ehses, who have both taught in NSCAD’s Design Division, have been recognized as fellows of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada. Hanno is the former head of the design department and retired in 2010. Rod is a typeface designer who is currently travelling across the country giving a series of lectures on typography. He designed NSCAD’s fonts Granville and Duke.

Movie poster

Jason Buxton's debut feature Blackbird was also a winner at the Toronto and Vancouver filmfests.

Films Gravity and Grace by NSCAD prof. Sol Nagler and Blackbird by Jason Buxton were two of the big winners at the Atlantic Film Festival. Jason Buxton (BFA 2003), who cited the influence of the late Jerry Ferguson in an acceptance speech, won three awards – best director, best Atlantic feature, and best screenplay. Jeff Wheaton won for best cinematography for his work on Gravity and Grace.

Outstanding students Claudia Legg and Halley Davies and several faculty and staff members were honored during the NSCAD Welcome and Awards Reception, held Wednesday, Sept. 26 at the Port Campus. Claudia was recognized with the Lieutenant Governor’s Volunteerism Metal and Halley won the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence.

Wrapping up

As I close this blog entry, I would like to remind everyone of the fundraising campaigns in progress at this time—namely the 125 Challenge for the Annual Fund and the United Way campaign. Both campaigns are important and deserving of our collective attention.

Until next time,


Making progress

As we begin the month of August, I find the halls becoming more depopulated, as folks schedule much-needed vacation time before the September rush.

Since my last post, I have continued to inch away at the various tasks contained in my mandate.  Predictably, this has meant lots of meetings with government officials, members of the board, senior administration, and to a lesser extent, faculty and students.

I wish I could tell you that all my efforts with the Province have been 100 per cent successful.  But what I can tell you is that we continue to make progress in both clarifying our position and gaining their confidence in our ability to steward our finances to a balanced position.  As of this writing, the Province has agreed to fund the 2011-12 deficit and has approved our 2012-13 budget. Still pending is a decision on funding Plan B of our Framework for Sustainability and funding for a consultant-led cost/benefit/risk study of a closer association with one of the peninsular universities.  I remain hopeful that favorable decisions will be reached on these two files by mid-fall.

In the meantime, I cannot overstate the importance of staying on target with Plan A of the Framework for Sustainability.  As you know, the budget for 2012-2013 was built on the expenditure and revenue assumptions of the plan.  These assumptions led us to identify cost savings in the form of non-replacement of most vacated positions, spending freezes and part-time appointment savings by eliminating under-enrolled courses and altering the frequency of course offerings.  Combined, these measures allow us to shrink our expenditure base considerably.  I should add that all this belt tightening comes with a cost.  For example, we have removed one vice-president position, two positions in financial services, and have realized considerable savings in the operation of my office.  On the revenue side, Plan A includes increases from two sources: increased rental revenue and increases in student fees.  I appreciate the new fees introduced this year are not welcomed by students; why would they?  But I can assure you that the fees in question have been well researched and processed properly.  They are ones which all or most universities in Nova Scotia and all Canadian art colleges have collected for years.  So while the Board had some reluctance to impose the new fees, on balance they were thought to be justified in the face of the fiscal challenges facing the university.

On a brighter note, I had the pleasure of attending the closing ceremony for our current group of artists based in Lunenburg.  NSCAD grads Nadia Gemeinhardt, Lynette de Montreuil, and Jason Skinner shared their experiences of the past year with a very appreciative assembly of friends, family, NSCAD supporters and community residents.  The occasion was enhanced by the choice of venue – the beautiful Tall Ship Providence berthed in Lunenburg Harbor.  By attending the event, I was able to gain a first-hand understanding of the value of the community resident program, both to our artist participants and the host community. Residents with the New Glasgow program get their turn next. 

That's me with NSCAD-Lunenburg Community Residents past, present and future: Andrew Maize, Nadia Gemeinhardt, Lynette de Montreuil, Kat Frick Miller, Jason Skinner and Rebecca Roher.

I also attended a couple of events in relation to the Tall Ships celebration; one was a NSCAD-hosted event for staff and students at the Port Campus.  Finally, I attended the exhibition of a Tom Forrestall work commissioned by the Canadian Navy. Kelly Zwicker, Vice-President External of SUNSCAD, accompanied me at the event.

Best wishes for a restful August.