Celebrating in style

These past few weeks NSCAD celebrated student achievement in style and tradition with outstanding exhibitions, a pop-up shop, well attended events, the 2016 graduation show and catalogue launch and convocation ceremony.

For me, the highlight of the Spring had to be the 2016 Graduation Ceremony, held on April 29 at the Cunard Centre. Members of the Class of 2016 successfully graduated and were welcomed to the NSCAD alumni family. It was a time of pride in all that we believe in and collectively accomplish, a time of celebration with family, friends and supporters from near and far. I heard nothing but accolades and joy at every event.

photo booth

2016 Graduates load into the Photo Booth after the ceremony. Did you notice the image of NSCAD founder Anna Leonowens in the background?

We were pleased to welcome internationally acclaimed architect Todd Saunders (BDes 1992) back to his alma mater as our 2016 Honorary Degree recipient. Commissioned by the Shorefast Foundation and the Fogo Island Arts Corporation to design the iconic Fogo Island Inn and artists’ studios, Todd’s work is featured in the documentary film, Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island. His overall message to the Graduating Class of 2016 was “Don’t be complacent.”

NSCAD grads are everywhere

I’m pleased to be invited as a presenter at the upcoming conference, Cape Breton Partnership: Growing a Creative Economy, on May 19 and 20 in Sydney. I will be speaking as part of the panel “Keeping Them Here – The NextGen Creative Workforce” (facilitated by Mary Elizabeth Luka (BFA 1997), alumni rep on the NSCAD Board of Governors).

If your ears are burning, it may be because I’m talking about you. My presentation will be filled with examples of young NSCAD alumni who’ve built a career and made a viable home in Nova Scotia following their graduation. Kat Frick Miller, Andrew Maize, Kara Highfield, and Erin Robison, for example, stayed in the Lunenburg area after doing the NSCAD-Lunenburg Community Studio Residency. Jimy Sloan and Brianne Williams, both of whom did the residency program in New Glasgow, have robust artistic practices. Jimy just had a solo exhibition at Studio 21 Fine Art Gallery and Brianne along with Joan Bruneau are the featured artists in a Nova Scotia tourism video for Destination Canada.

Speaking of NSCAD alumni, let’s have a round of applause—oh, let’s make it a standing ovation—for these alumni and their accomplishments:

  • Evan Rensch (MFA 2015) was the recipient of the 2016 Gold Academic Medal. It was accepted on his behalf at graduation by Prof. Robert Bean, who presented the award to Evan a week later at the Scotiabank Photography Award in Toronto.
  • Katherine Nakaska (BFA 2015) was awarded the 2016 Silver Academic Medal for top achievement at the undergraduate level at NSCAD.
gov general medal

Prof. Robert Bean presents Evan Rensch with the Governor General’s Gold Medal at the 2016 Scotiabank Prize. Also in the photo: Ann Thomas, Curator of Photography, National Gallery of Canada; Angela Grauerholz, winner of 2015 Scotiabank Photography Award; and photographer Ed Burtynsky.

  • Stephen Reynolds (BFA 1984) won a daytime Emmy Award for direction on the children’s series, Odd Squad.
  • Chloe and Parris Gordon’s Fall 2016 Ready to Wear collection for Beaufille got the notice of Vogue Magazine.
fashion

From Beaufille’s 2016 Ready-to-Wear collection, as shown on Vogue’s website.

  • Ambera Wellman (BFA 2011) is 2016 winner of the $25,000 Joseph Plaskett Award. Ambera is now completing her MFA at the University of Guelph.
  • M.E. Sparks (BFA 2013) was awarded the Nancy Petry Prize, administered through the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the Joseph Plaskett Foundation. M.E. (BFA 2013) is completing her Master of Applied Art at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
  • Students in Andrea Ward’s (MFA 1991) art classes at Highfield Junior School in Etobicoke were recognized by the National Film Board no less for the stop-motion animation shorts they made.
  • Yalitsa Riden’s (BFA 2016) film Shoreline was a big winner at the 49th Houston International Film Festival, claiming the Gold Remi Award in the student film and video category.
  • NSCAD students Laura Admussen, Jennifer Kobler and Tamara Oake were named 2016 finalists for the Waxman Textile Prize, competing against students at the Tokyo Zokei University School of Art & Design, LUCA School of Arts, Ghent, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, among others.
  • SCALE 1:1, founded by designer David Winston (BFA 1994), has won the Architizer A+ Award for best product design for two products: the Nomad sport conference table (a three-in-one product that works as a conference table, a ping pong table and a mobile marker board) and Tete-a-Tete, a double desk for colleagues working collaboratively.

Congratulations all!

NSCAD is small and mighty, nimble and fleet-of-foot

By working together the NSCAD community celebrated many events over these past weeks at the same time as dealing with competing priorities. Nevertheless, something quite remarkable happened: the complete alignment of NSCAD’s planning documents and tools, including the Strategic Framework, Academic Plan and Strategic Research Plan. Over the past year of working together we not only achieved a balanced operating budget but have developed robust and ambitious plans for the future.

Thank you to all in our community for contributing to this remarkable accomplishment.

Dianne

Bursting with NSCAD pride

The projects are finished, the essays and exams are written and the final marks are in. It’s time for all of us at NSCAD to take a collective breath as the 2016 Graduation Ceremony approaches.

This is a wonderful time of the year and I have never been more proud. Those of us who work at NSCAD know how amazing our students are, so when their accomplishments reach a more public stage, we are thrilled that members of our community can witness this too. Such was the case during EPOCH, the runway show which featured the work of 14 student fashion designers, and the Starfish Student Art Awards, a showcase for the artwork of 10 student finalists. Speaking of Starfish, congratulations to 2016 winner Sydney McKenna. I’m delighted that her exquisite print, Play, has found a home in the President’s Office, alongside View from Chebucto Head by Arthur Lismer, the principal of NSCAD a century ago, and John Baldessari’s iconic print I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art.

relief print by Sydney McKenna

Sydney McKenna, Play, 2015. Relief print, 116.84 x 81.28 cm.

On Thursday, there are two special events to mention. The first is the screening of Strange & Familiar: the Architecture of Fogo Island, which will take place at 2 pm in Paul O’Regan Hall of Halifax Central Library. This stunning film, which I had a chance to see during the Atlantic Film Festival last September, documents a bold architecture project on remote Fogo Island that embraces contemporary design and the excitement of living on the edge in relation to nature. The filmmakers of Strange & Familiar are all NSCAD alumni—Marcia Connolly, Katherine Knight and David Craig. Marcia, the co-director and cinematographer, will be at the screening for the Q&A which follows, along with architect Todd Saunders, also a NSCAD alumnus. We are delighted to welcome Todd from Norway for the screening and graduation on Friday when Todd will be awarded NSCAD’s highest honour, an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art.

artist studio fogo

One of the artist studios designed by Todd Saunders on Fogo Island, Newfoundland. The image in the header shows the iconic Fogo Island Inn.

After the screening, it’s off to the Anna Leonowens Gallery for the opening of the 2016 Graduation Exhibition and the launch of the 2016 Graduation Catalogue. This is always such a fantastic event with so many family and friends in attendance. It’s a chance to recognize the two student interns – this year curator Brea McAllister and designer Grace Laemmler – who pour heart and soul into presenting the work of their peers. Thanks to the donation by Margaret and David Fountain, the gallery is newly renovated and a fitting showcase for the exhibition of more than 100 artworks.

Later in the evening, there will be a party at NSCAD’s very own Art Bar, just a few doors down from the gallery on Granville Street.

The next day, Friday, April 29, it’s graduation. The ceremony takes place at 2 pm at the Cunard Centre, 961 Marginal Road—just a short walk from our Port Campus. NSCAD’s Graduation Ceremony is like none other and I’m very much looking forward to celebrating the achievements of the Graduating Class of 2016.

In closing, I’d like to tell you about another highlight of the last two weeks: the signing of the collective agreement for FUNSCAD Unit I representing faculty members and FUNSCAD Unit II representing technicians. This is a huge accomplishment that was made possible with a wholehearted commitment to NSCAD on the part of everyone involved. FUNSCAD President, Professor Alvin Comiter, who has been involved with 12 collective agreements over his 42 years at NSCAD, said an agreement reached without having to go to the bargaining table has never happened at NSCAD before. The process was amicable and without rancor, achieved through dialogue and mutual respect. Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make the agreement happen and to the NSCAD Board of Governors for its ratification.

group shot

Members of FUNSCAD and the NSCAD administration shared the pen to make the collective agreement official. In photo: Melanie Colosimo, director of the Anna Leonowens Gallery, Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff, Vice President Academic & Research, NSCAD President Dianne Taylor-Gearing, Dr. Jayne Wark, Professor of Art History, Alvin Comiter, Professor, Photography, and Sharon Johnson-Legere, Vice President Finance and Administration.

A man in a blue kayak

It’s that time of year when we catch up with news from family, friends, former colleagues, students and acquaintances, some of whom come out of the blue like the story of a man in a kayak.

Well, it’s been quite a year! As December comes to a close. It’s hard to comprehend how much was truly accomplished in 2015.

Perhaps the most major accomplishment of the year is achieving collective agreements with our faculty and technician unions. These agreements were negotiated before the expiration of current agreements on Dec. 31, 2015, and herald a new spirit of cooperation at NSCAD. And that is good, because there is still much to discuss as we head into 2016, specifically as we prepare for our departure from the Fountain Campus in a few years’ time and reflect on the new academic plan now in development.

Another major accomplishment of 2015 is the approval of NSCAD’s Strategic Framework: 2015-2020. Much of the hard work on this document happened before I arrived at NSCAD in the summer of 2014. All that back story gives this plan and its pillars—Connect, Nurture, Curiosity and Steward—such richness and vitality. Moving forward, these words will continue to guide and inform our decision-making. I am so pleased with how the Strategic Framework was reflected in our 2014-15 Annual Report, truly a beautiful reflection of an art school on the rise and already receiving external recognition for positive change.

NSCAD is in a good place. As a community, we have overcome so much together that as we prepare to turn the page on 2015, we are resilient. Every day I gain strength from the amazing accomplishments of alumni, faculty, staff and students, who recognize NSCAD for inspiring, challenging and nurturing them. I think of Kyle Alden Martens’ address during our Donor Appreciation Reception at the end of November, and how, in his entertaining, round-about way, talked about how a NSCAD education opened doors, one after another, but that it’s up to each of us to take advantage of the gaps and fling open those opportunities ever wider. I think of Sydney Smith (Wordless book speaks volumes in the latest edition of VIVID) and how his professor’s support and belief in him made all the difference and was what he was thinking of the day he won a Governor General’s Literary Award.

Kyle Alden Martens

Kyle Alden Martens addressing a full house for NSCAD’s Donor Appreciation Reception on Nov. 26. (Photo by Steve Farmer)

We had a full house for NSCAD's Donor Appreciation Reception on Nov. 26, attended by donors and student scholarship recipients.

We had a full house for NSCAD’s Donor Appreciation Reception on Nov. 26, attended by donors and student scholarship recipients. (Photo by Steve Farmer)

design studio

An important part of the Donor Appreciation Reception was the chance to visit studios and meet faculty and students. Here, our guests meet professor Glen Hougan. (Photo by Steve Farmer)

Oh, about the man in the kayak … a former colleague and distinguished professor wrote in her holiday card message that she was on vacation in Florida staying at a friend’s lakeside home. A man in a blue kayak paddled by and was invited to join the party. He did just that and in conversation it was revealed he is a graphic designer – his favourite professor being my husband Colin Gearing from the 1990s. It just shows how our actions make a difference and will be recounted and cherished many years later.

Thank you to everyone for making NSCAD an adventure, a challenge, a delight. I extend my best wishes for the holiday season and look forward to seeing you back at NSCAD in 2016.

Happiest of holidays to you,

Dianne

A note about the image in the header: This exquisite artwork was woven from strips of second-hand clothing by interdisciplinary artist John Monteith in Intro to Weaving, taught by Lesley Armstrong. It was used as the main image in NSCAD’s holiday card.

 

A fond farewell

As this is my last blog post before I take my leave, I thought it fitting to recount the many changes at NSCAD over the past couple of years as we collectively addressed our financial management and enrolment challenges. If I had to list in order of importance the accomplishments we have shared the list would look something like this:

1. Virtual elimination of operating deficit – This was made even more significant as our move toward gaining financial stability occurred during a time when provincial grants decreased by 10 per cent and tuition revenue decreased by an almost similar amount.
2. Debt Reduction – We were able to allay concerns over the size of our debt by demonstrating that by simply servicing our debt it reduces by $1 million per year. Simple tables projecting debt reduction for several years forward provided the Province with the evidence we were making progress.
3. Government relations – By demonstrating good stewardship in reducing our annual deficit; by meeting all report requirements (which incidentally were frequent and numerous); and by introducing strong management controls, we were able to gain the confidence of our provincial partners.
4. Media relations – The shift from negative to positive treatment by the media has been most apparent and most beneficial.
5. Internal governance Improvements – Our new board governance structure has resulted in greater operational clarity, focus and efficiency in board operations.
6. Major consultant-led studies – We have successfully completed two major consultant studies: Space and Affiliation. Both studies have great consequence to the future of NSCAD and provided the Board with evidence-based information on which we were able to chart our future with confidence.
7. Strategic Plan – While behind schedule (on track now), the ultimate outcome will prove very beneficial in informing future directions and priorities for NSCAD.
8. Labour relations – We have successfully negotiated collective agreements with all unionized employees without work disruption, and we continue to enjoy good relations.
9. Presidential and Academic Dean searches – We have concluded two national searches for these important positions with great success. The attraction of many fine candidates for these important leadership positions is yet another indication of our improved status within the university community.
10. Academic programs – We have completed external reviews of all academic programs. When processed, the review findings will be very helpful in the consideration of important program refinements.
11. Enhanced program collaboration – We have added or are in the process of adding many new programs in cooperation with Nova Scotia Community College, University of King’s College and other local universities.
12. Student recruitment improvements – With the assistance of specially earmarked donor funds, our registration and admissions personnel have introduced numerous robust strategies to augment our recruitment efforts.
13. Institute of Applied Creativity – IAC, while still experiencing growing challenges, has been successful in securing significant government grants, hosting significant events and forging important partnerships.
14. Groundbreaking capital donation – The recent generous donation from Margaret and David Fountain is significant for two reasons. First, the gift will allow NSCAD to make significant improvements to the Granville Block (now Fountain Campus). This solidifies our earlier decision to declare our intention to hold onto this historic site for the foreseeable future. Second, the donation conveys confidence in NSCAD’s future as Atlantic Canada’s only exclusive art and design University.

All in all, I believe NSCAD has its worst days behind it and can, with renewed and justly warranted confidence chart a future rich with potential and greatness.

Please allow me to close on a note of appreciation and thanks to all in our community – Board of Governors, faculty, staff, students, and alumni for their collective welcome and support to me, an outsider, during my stay. In particular, I wish to acknowledge the support and assistance provided my most immediate administrative team.

It has been a pleasure, frustrating and exhausting at times, but always rewarding.

King's

Here I am with Kelly Toughill, Director of King’s School of Journalism, and Dr. George Cooper, President of the University of King’s College, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding for a new collaboration. Eliot Wright Photo.

Announcement

A great day for NSCAD: Margaret and David Fountain pledge $3 million to NSCAD and our historic downtown campus is named “Fountain Campus” in appreciation. Eliot Wright Photo.

Here's a picture of myself and my wife Valerie with a painting by Professor Alex Livingston. This photo was taken the same day the Board of Governors considered the Affiliation Study and resolved to keep our autonomy.

A picture of myself and my wife Valerie with a painting by Professor Alex Livingston. This was the same day the Board of Governors considered the Affiliation Report and resolved to keep our autonomy. Eliot Wright Photo.

The end-of-term rush

The end of the academic year is coming and now everything seems to be moving at fast-forward speed. Let’s all take a collective breath as I report on recent developments at NSCAD.

Natasha

Natasha Hope-Simpson with the prototype prosthetic that she helped design. (Eliot Wright Photo)

Last weekend, NSCAD’s Institute of Applied Creativity hosted the Seaport Maker Symposium. I was delighted to meet Natasha Hope-Simpson, the inspiring young NSCAD grad who gave the keynote address along with Kendall Joudrie and Jourdan Davok from Thinking Robot Studios in Truro and Mike Fanning from NovaCAD Systems. Natasha has been able to turn around a life-altering experience into something creative and energizing; she talked about her desire to design a prosthetic for her left leg that would be both functional and beautiful and the collaboration that made it possible.

Dr. Kenn Honeychurch and I recently visited the Nova Scotia Community College’s Leeds Campus to formalize new joint programs between our two institutions in film and photography. NSCC President Don Bureaux and I signed some paperwork, posed for photographs, and made it official. The two new jointly offered programs allow students to complete a two-year diploma program at NSCC and then finish a BFA at NSCAD in two more years.

These “two-plus-two” arrangements will make it easier for students to transfer from NSCC to NSCAD for a different, more flexible approach to post-secondary education that bridges the college and university systems. Dr. Honeychurch is already discussing other synergies between our two schools and we will also be making announcements soon regarding joint programming with other Halifax universities.

NSCC NSCAD signing

NSCC and NSCAD will offer “2+2″ programs in film and photography, in addition to the one already offered in design. Front row: NSCC president Don Bureaux, NSCAD president Dan O’Brien. Back row: Ian MacLeod, NSCC Acting Dean, Applied Arts and New Media, Rosalind Penfound, NSCC VP Academic, and Dr. Kenn Honeychurch, NSCAD VP Academic and Provost. (Matthew Madden Photo)

Finding alternate ways to enter NSCAD was one among many subjects discussed during the Strategic Planning Committee’s weekend retreat held recently in Lunenburg. I wasn’t able to attend myself, but I understand more than 40 people did and that it was an intensive and productive session. And now the dialogue continues. Coming up on Wednesday, April 9, members of your Board of Governors will be serving up fresh waffles to students, staff and faculty. At the same time, they’ll be open to your ideas for improving NSCAD –  so bring those ideas along with your appetite to the Port Campus, second floor, anytime between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. See you there. (FYI – I like my waffles slightly crispy, not overcooked, with fruit on the side.)

Discussions regarding the kind of NSCAD we all want and how we get there are also being raised as candidates for my successor are on campus this week. The process is still rather contained at this point, but suffice to say, key members of the NSCAD community are getting a chance to meet the candidates for NSCAD President and ask questions. Following the visits to campus by the candidates, the Presidential Search Committee will convene, consider feedback from those who met the candidates and make a recommendation to the Board of Governors. Stay tuned.

On Wednesday night after class (my wife Valerie and I are auditing Survey of 19th Century Art), I was able to catch the reception at Attica for all the folks involved in last fall’s very successful Dine by Design East event. Through the design showcase and gala event, $20,000 was raised to create a scholarship fund at NSCAD in memory of Amber Harkins, a former editor and creative director at East Coast Living magazine. On behalf of NSCAD, I would like to express my appreciation for this significant gift which is a wonderful tribute to Ms. Harkins’ creative spirit. Dine by Design East will be held again this fall and build on last year’s success.  Mark your calendar: the Dine by Design East Gala is set for October 9, with public viewings October 10 to 12 at Olympic Gardens.

Dine by Design

Proceeds from last fall’s Dine by Design East event went to create a scholarship fund for design students at NSCAD. Here, Patty Baxter, publisher of East Coast Living magazine, gives Michael LeBlanc, chair of the Design Division, the cheque for $20,000. Also pictured are Dine by Design East founders Suzanne Saul and Jonathan Legate.

Here are more events coming as we charge toward the end of term:

  • NSCAD Public Lecture Series with artist Spencer Finch. Friday, April 4, 7 p.m. in the Bell Auditorium.
  • In the Offing, an exhibition of NSCAD Foundation student art work, at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Opening reception, Tuesday, April 8, 5- p.m. (The image used above of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is by NSCAD student Janeva Faircloth.)
  • Keen, the NSCAD Interdisciplinary Design Show. Friday, April 11, 7 p.m. at NSCAD’s Institute of Applied Creativity.
  • The Master of Design Exposition. Monday, April 14, 5 p.m. in N400, North Block, Granville campus.
  • End-of-term film screenings. For Film 1 & Film 2 – Monday, April 14, 6 p.m. at Park Lane. For Film 3 & 4 – Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Both at Park Lane. Admission by donation.
  • NSACSW/NSCAD Poster Design Project in support of Women’s History Month. Tuesday, April 15, 11 a.m. at NSCAD’s Institute of Applied Creativity.
  • Wearable Art Show. Thursday, April 17, 8 p.m. at the Marquee Ballroom. Admission $10.
  • NSCAD Fashion Show. Saturday, April 19, 8 p.m. at the Port Campus. Tickets $15, $10.
  • Starfish Student Art Awards Gala. Thursday, May 1, 7 p.m. at the Port Campus. Tickets $75.

An opportunity for emerging artists

Looks like the Province of Nova Scotia is catching up to us. It’s just announced that it will bring in a new February holiday starting next year and the first occasion will honour Viola Desmond. In succeeding years, Nova Scotia students will suggest a permanent name for the new holiday and give ideas for the next 12 people to be honored.

Anna Leonowens would be a good choice—just a thought.

In any case, I trust our staff had a relaxing NSCAD Day. And, I hope our students have a safe and productive study break.

I wanted to tell students about some of the efforts we’ve made to lessen the impact of the closing of Seeds Gallery. The gallery, which serves students and alumni, will close on March 31.

We’ve signed an agreement with Art Sales and Rental Gallery, the commercial gallery associated with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The Hollis Street gallery is very open to carrying the artwork of NSCAD students and a new website will make that even easier. Recently, Mark Bovey, chair of Fine Arts, Rory MacDonald, chair of Craft, and I met with Andrea Smith, the gallery’s executive director, and a few of its dedicated volunteers, who are all very enthusiastic NSCAD supporters.

With its new website (yet to be launched), the gallery will be able to carry up to five pieces per student. Artworks can be in a variety of media, including sculpture, ceramics, painting, prints, drawings and textiles. All the work submitted goes before the gallery’s Accessions Committee for acceptance. If sold through the gallery, the student would receive 65 per cent of the purchase price, with the gallery getting the remaining 35 per cent.

Students who are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity should get in touch with ASAR by email (asar@gov.ns.ca) or make an appointment to drop by in person by calling 424-3087. For further information, see the gallery’s Guidelines to Submit.

I want to thank Art Sales and Rental Gallery for already being so supportive of student and alumni artists. The gallery is now hosting an exhibition by three young alumni—Jimy Sloan, Hangama Amiri and Samantha Battaglia. All three artists have been artistic residents with our NSCAD Community Studio Residencies; in fact, Samantha is now a resident with the Lunenburg program. Their show is called This is the Canadian Earth and it’s on display until the end of the month. It’s a beautiful show, which arts reporter Elissa Barnard reviewed in The Chronicle Herald last week.

We’ve been also talking to other local galleries about carrying student work and we are working on organizing a large show and sale of art and craft by students and alumni at the end of the fall 2014 term for the Christmas gift-buying season. We’ll have more details on that as the time approaches.

Senior administration continues to work on peeling back assumptions contained in the space utilization study to assist the Board of Governors in reaching decisions on optimizing space at our three campuses. Meanwhile, the consultants working on the affiliation study are in the final stages of preparing cost scenarios for affiliation with either Saint Mary’s University or Dalhousie University. Recall that our Board has stated that affiliation will only be considered if there are demonstrated cost savings in the short- and long-term futures. Finally, stay tuned for important calls for input by your strategic planning committee led by Board vice chair Julia Dexter and announcements of a short list from our Presidential Search Committee.

In the meantime, I wish all good health and energy to push into the second half of the academic term.

Winter painting

The image used in the header above is a detail from “Winter, Northwest Arm” by Elizabeth Styring Nutt. Painted in 1927 while she was principal of the Nova Scotia College of Art, Miss Nutt had only recently changed the name of the school from the Victoria School of Art and Design and given the school a new motto, “Heart and Head and Hand.” (Elizabeth Styring Nutt,” Winter, Northwest Arm,” 1927.  Oil on canvas, 63.6 x 76.1 cm, Collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Gift of Robert L. Stanfield, Ottawa, Ontario, in memory of Mary Hall Stanfield, 1979)

 

 

 

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.