Dr. Dan O'Brien stays as NSCAD president
July 3, 2013

Dr. Daniel O’Brien’s term as President of NSCAD University has been extended by the NSCAD Board of Governors for a year, to June 30, 2014.

“The Board fully endorses the continuation of Dr. Dan O’Brien as we proceed to deal with significant issues including space and affiliation studies. Dr. O’Brien brings vast experience which will ensure the interests of NSCAD are protected,” said Grant Machum, Chair of NSCAD’s Board of Governors. “We have made great strides toward sustainability with Dr. O’Brien at the helm and we are grateful to him for staying with us for another year.”

Dr. O’Brien first arrived at NSCAD University as a facilitator appointed by the Hon. Marilyn More, former Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, in January 2012 to assist the university in drafting a sustainability plan. Following the resignation of David B. Smith, Dr. O’Brien became acting president in May 2012.

Under his guidance, NSCAD’s operating deficit for 2012-13 was budgeted to be half of the previous year’s. Actual budget figures far exceeded this projection, with NSCAD virtually eliminating its deficit for 2012-13.

While there has been belt tightening at the university, there have been no lay-offs or program cuts. Earlier this year, the university negotiated three-year contracts with its faculty and technicians unions. Dr. O’Brien has worked hard to improve the relationship with NSCAD’s principal funder, the Government of Nova Scotia, while advocating for NSCAD’s unique position and distinct program offerings among other post-secondary institutions in Atlantic Canada.

“I 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,” said Dr. O’Brien. He feels he has much to give NSCAD and is increasingly impressed by the eccentric and scrappy fine art and design university.

Prior to coming to NSCAD, Dr. O’Brien was the President at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B., a post he held from 1990 to 2006. He is credited with transforming the university into a model liberal arts institution of higher learning. During his 16-year tenure, Dr. O’Brien led three successful fundraising campaigns resulting in the construction of numerous award-winning buildings, beautified the campus, saw enrolment more than double and expanded and improved program offerings. He is St. Thomas’s first President Emeritus, has an honorary degree from the University of New Brunswick, was invested in the Order of New Brunswick in 2005 and in the Order of Canada in 2007. He currently serves as chair of the Capital District Regional Health Authority.

The Board of Governors accepted the recommendation of the Presidential Search Committee to resume the search for a new President in the fall.