Board briefs
February 13, 2013

Board meeting interrupted

A well-organized contingent of NSCAD students interrupted the NSCAD Board of Governors at its meeting on January 24 to deliver their “Manifesto for a Vibrant, Strong and Independent NSCAD.” The board meeting was adjourned, although several governors remained to talk to students and hear their concerns.

The meeting was reconvened a few hours later at One Government Place, where governors heard from Rick Williams, deputy minister with the Office of Policies and Priorities, and Sandra McKenzie, deputy minister with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education. The governors were told that its sustainability plan must be revised and resubmitted by March 15, 2013 and must include details on how to address its debt.


Julia Rivard, the alumni representative on the Board of Governors, has been honored with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for her contribution to Canadian sport.

“We owe so much to those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to advance sport excellence in Canada,” said Marcel Aubut, President of the Canadian Olympic Committee and member of the three-person panel who submitted the nominations to Rideau Hall.

Julia (BDes 2003) is among 41 Canadians being recognized. An entrepreneur and partner with the Halifax web firm Norex, Julia is also a kayaker who competed at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and served on Canada’s mission team for the 2008 and 2010 Olympic Games. She continues to volunteer extensively in the local sport community, namely as a board member for Nova Scotia Sport and Canoe/Kayak Canada.

Attracting students to NSCAD and retaining them

NSCAD’s Registrar Shawna Garrett and Terry Bailey, Director of Admissions, gave a presentation on enrolment trends at NSCAD University to the Board of Governors at a recent meeting. Bolstering enrolment to the Foundation program and graduate programs and retaining students throughout their degree programs are top priorities of the Board.

Ms. Garrett and Mr. Bailey outlined that while NSCAD has many strengths—its outstanding reputation, the quality of teaching provided by faculty, interdisciplinary learning opportunities—there are challenges. Specifically, that top applicants expect scholarship and incentives that NSCAD cannot provide at the same level as competitor schools. Further, declining numbers of Nova Scotian applicants in the 18-22 age group means increased competition among Nova Scotia universities.

Going forward, the goals of student recruitment are: to increase the number of prospects and applicants. Overall, the goal is to increase new registered students to NSCAD by 34 from markets including Nova Scotia, New England, the rest of Canada and internationally. As well, NSCAD will strive to diminish the attrition that happens among students between first and second years with early intervention and alert programs.

Presidential search

The Presidential Search Committee has selected the executive search firm Janet Wright & Associates (JWA) to assist in finding a new president for NSCAD University. The aim is for the committee to make a recommendation to the Board of Governors in early 2013 and a new president in place by late summer 2013.

Dr.  Janet Wright, president of JWA, met with interested parties at the university and is working with stakeholders to complete a position description.

Meet our newest governor, Gordon Whittaker

As Director, Atlantic Region for Telefilm Canada, Gordon Whittaker is responsible for industry promotion, business and partnership development and feature film decisions in the region. 

Mr. Whittaker was born and raised in Toronto and lived in Vancouver before moving to Halifax in 1996.   He has 25 years of management experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors and has held senior positions in sales, marketing, operations and business development.  He has an MBA from the University of British Columbia and an Honours Commerce Degree from Queen’s University.  


GordWhittaker3  Gordon Whittaker is the director for the Atlantic Region of Telefilm Canada. 


Since joining Telefilm in 2002, he has collaborated on a number of successful industry initiatives across Atlantic Canada and has worked together with many producer and director teams on over 30 films from project development through market distribution.

He is actively involved in “city building” and sits on the Board of Management for the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, is a member of the core team of Strategic Urban Partnership and is an active member of both the Halifax Chamber of Commerce’s Municipal and Provincial Affairs Committees.

His interest in NSCAD University and serving on its Board of Governors stems from his belief that NSCAD is a pillar of the community and significantly contributes to the city and province’s cultural identity, diversity and depth. NSCAD is a distinctive feature of Halifax, a driver of creativity and a community partner. 

The Board of Governors seeks to improve communication with you, our community stakeholders. We will be providing regular Board Briefs to keep you informed on board activities. This is just one of many steps we are taking to keep you informed.  We invite you to approach any member of the Board to provide comments, express views or simply to say hi.

- Grant Machum, Chair of the Board of Governors