Creating a plan for NSCAD's sustainable future
December 21, 2011

NSCAD University has a few busy months ahead as it works to produce a financial plan that assures its future as an independent and autonomous visual arts university.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but on the eve of our 125th anniversary, we are invigorated by the challenge, and we believe we can bring all of our creativity to bear in producing a sustainable plan that will ensure the vitality of the institution for the next 125 years,” says President David B. Smith.

“All of us at NSCAD believe the key to our success is our independence, and that financial sustainability is possible within an autonomous institution,” adds Michael Donovan, chair of the Board of Governors.

The Howard Windsor Report, released Tuesday, Dec. 14, described the university’s financial challenges, including a debt related to NSCAD’s 2007 expansion and a growing annual deficit.

Marilyn More, the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, accepted all eight recommendations put forward by Mr. Windsor, including providing $2.4 million to cover this year’s deficit and having NSCAD work with a provincial facilitator to monitor progress on the options for collaboration. The provision to cover the deficit comes with two conditions: that the Board of Governors commits to investigate opportunities for collaborations with other universities and that it submit a plan by March 31, 2012 to achieve financial stability in both the short and long term.

“Collaboration is not code for amalgamation,” emphasized Minister More in her remarks at the media conference.  She also affirmed the importance of fine arts education and the unique nature of NSCAD and its studio-based multidisciplinary approach.

At a well-attended meeting of the university community on Thursday, Dec. 15, Prof. Smith said NSCAD is committed to meeting the March 31 deadline for completing the plan for financial stability, including a curriculum review and space utilization study. He said efficiencies will be sought in the operating budget without harm to the quality of academic programs.

“We can do this and we will do it,” said Prof. Smith to the gathering in the Bell Auditorium. “The commitment for each of us is to believe we can make a difference together.”

As strongly suggested in the Windsor Report, NSCAD will also seek out collaborations with other universities. Prof. Smith added that these kinds of partnerships are already underway; for example, NSCAD students have access to residence at Saint Mary’s University and personal and career counseling services at Dalhousie University.

“Can we do more? Sure, we can do more and we are,” he said. An additional collaboration announced recently includes a partnership between NSCAD and Saint Mary’s to commercialize research.

The Alumni Association has pledged its assistance in furthering the process.

“The Alumni Association of NSCAD University looks forward to mobilizing the strengths of alumni to participate fully in NSCAD’s strategic and creative planning in the coming weeks,” says Peter Wünsch, president of the alumni board and creative director of Breakhouse Inc. “We are looking forward to the completion of this work as well as the 125th anniversary, itself a touchstone for the future and a celebration of NSCAD’s past achievements.”