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.

Fall into fall

Now that the new academic year is well underway with the inevitable whirl of start-up activities behind us I thought I would take to my blog to bring you up to date on recent happenings.

First, here’s a recap of September’s special events. My office has been involved in the following events: Welcome event for new students; welcome reception for new international students; faculty and staff long service ceremony; external meetings with the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, Association of Atlantic Universities, MOU meeting with NS University Presidents and the Provincial Government.

I also attended the announcement of the finalists for the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia’s Masterworks Art Award—congratulations to the three finalists: Steve Higgins, NSCAD part-time faculty, for his sculpture, Beyond the Terminating Vista; Jason Buxton, NSCAD alumnus, for his feature film Blackbird; and 2b Theatre for the play When It Rains. You will recall that NSCAD professor Kim Morgan was the winner of this prestigious award last year.

I also attended two major fund- and friend-raising event. The first, ROAR: An Art Auction for NSCAD, was entirely organized by our dedicated folks in University Relations. I will not repeat the details on the event, as you have already received full debriefings from communications, except to say this was a premier event which exceeded our expectations in every way. All around it was a great evening for NSCAD. Thanks again to the folks in University Relations, the artists and the cast of volunteers who gave generously of their time and talent to showcase the university.

Karen Koppernaes’ body language demonstrates the excitement of live bidding during ROAR: An Art Auction for NSCAD. (Steve Farmer Photo)

The second event was also special—a dining and design extravaganza called Dine By Design East. This event, which encompassed both public viewings and a gala evening, selected NSCAD as the benefactor for the event in memory of Amber Harkins, the former creative director at Metro Guide Publishing. NSCAD’s room “Unravelled” was curated by recent NSCAD graduate Heath Simpson and featured the President’s Dinnerware Collection, a set of eight different place settings made by eight prominent NSCAD ceramics alumni. For the gala, NSCAD was paired with the restaurant Gio and chef David Woodley; Gio served “unravelled” versions of comfort food staples—wieners and beans, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, grilled cheese and Neapolitan dessert— as you’ve never tasted them before. Spectacular! The food was served on small ceramic tasting dishes that Heath and friends made especially for the evening.

The Gio chefs are kept busy during the gala evening for Dine by Design East on Thursday, Oct. 3 at the Olympic Community Centre. (Marilyn Smulders Photo)

You will know from previous blog posts that we are still awaiting the final completion of the Affiliation Study. Since I wrote last we have finally come to terms with the consulting firm on the work remaining to be done. The completion date is January 31. The space study is complete and will be reviewed by the Board of Governors at a special meeting to be held in early November.

Also on the planning front, the Strategic Planning Committee under the lead of Vice Chair Julia Rivard Dexter has selected the firm Novita, a very experienced group with loads of experience working in the arts and culture fields, to lead the process. Early planning is underway and you should expect more detailed information on the approach which will be used. Briefly, the approach will contain numerous opportunities for input and advice from our various stakeholder groups as we attempt to fashion our future vision together. All combined, we have a very busy fall planned so stay tuned.

On the staffing front I am happy to report that our Academic Dean Dr. Christine Holzer Hunt has returned from sick leave and is easing back to full duties. Welcome back Christine. Jason Blackburn, with the Office of Research Services, remains out on sick leave as does Linda Hutchison, director of University Relations, who only recently became ill. We wish Jason and Linda speedy recoveries.

Finally, we have been advised recently that Fran Cameron, Senior Secretary for Governance will be retiring at the end of October. While her announcement came as a surprise I am sure everyone will join me in wishing Fran, a major player at NSCAD, our very best wishes.

Talk soon,

Dan