Charting a path forward
July 11, 2014

Board of Governors responds to affiliation and space utilization studies
Following consideration of an exhaustive study looking into affiliation between NSCAD University and either Dalhousie University or Saint Mary’s University, NSCAD’s Board of Governors has affirmed that the best course of action for NSCAD is to remain autonomous.

At a special summer-time convening, the Board of Governors instructed its senior management to discontinue any further exploration of formal affiliation while proactively pursuing collaborative arrangements for academic programming, research and services with the two Halifax universities and other post-secondary institutions.

“What the study found is that inter-university collaborations do not require affiliation,” says Dr. Daniel O’Brien, President of NSCAD University. “In fact, they’re happening already and there is potential for more.”

“We are hopeful that this decision puts to rest any further speculation of affiliation, consolidation or merger.”

The study, fully entitled “A Feasibility Study to Explore an Affiliation between NSCAD University and Dalhousie University or NSCAD University and Saint Mary’s University,” was completed by ATN Consultants Inc., a Halifax firm. The impetus for the study came from the Windsor Report (November 2011) which instructed NSCAD to “immediately investigate collaborative arrangements with other post-secondary institutions in relation to governance, curriculum, administration, shared services, faculties and any other matter that could contribute to the viability of the university.”

SEE THE FULL REPORT:  “A Feasibility Study to Explore an Affiliation between NSCAD University and Dalhousie University or NSCAD University and Saint Mary’s University”

The study, which took 18 months to complete, involved extensive dialogue with NSCAD’s senior management team and representatives from Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University. A comprehensive survey of stakeholders was undertaken and considered in the results.

The consultants came to a number of conclusions that support the decision for NSCAD to remain as it is, an independent university wholly dedicated to art and design.

The first is that NSCAD is already engaged in several collaborations with other post-secondary institutions in terms of research, services and programming, and that these collaborations are not predicated on affiliation. For example, NSCAD has forged joint programs with Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) and the University of King’s College and there are other initiatives in the works.

The consultants found that affiliation would not lead to cost savings in the short, medium or long term. Indeed, they concluded that affiliation was likely to cost more. According to the study: “As a smaller, niche institution, focused on art education and design, NSCAD’s operations are different from and not duplicative of other institutions.” The consultants also note an already existing “lean” level of management and operations at NSCAD.

Further, the rationale that spurred the study—NSCAD’s financial distress—has been substantially eliminated. Since the Windsor Report, NSCAD has made great strides through careful budget management and expenditure controls, resulting in substantial reductions in its deficit and debt.

For further information, please see the Board resolution passed July 15, 2014 (PDF)

Response to the Space Utilization Study
In other news
, the Board of Governors adopted a formal position regarding the Space Utilization Study completed by Educational Consulting Services.

At a July 4th meeting, the Board of Governors resolved that NSCAD will continue to hold its current facility footprint: its historic downtown campus, the Academy Building and the Port Campus. In so doing, NSCAD will continue to seek greater efficiency in the use of its facilities while maximizing rental revenues.

NSCAD will re-invest in and improve the downtown campus, recently named Fountain Campus in honor of a generous $3-million gift by Margaret and David Fountain. The Board of Governors committed to staying at the campus for at least eight years, when the mortgage on the property is paid off. The Board of Governors also affirmed that any improvements at its campuses will happen in consultation with the NSCAD community and with sufficient notice to ensure the least amount of disruption possible.

In reaching these decisions, the Board rejected the various alternate scenarios outlined in the study as too expensive or insufficient to meet NSCAD’s space needs.

For further information, please see the Board resolution passed July 4, 2014 (PDF)