Message from the President
June 17, 2015

To the NSCAD community,

As the NSCAD University community is aware, these past few years have been extremely challenging. The sustainability and long-term vitality of NSCAD University as a leading independent visual arts, craft and design university has been under unprecedented scrutiny and persistent budget shortfalls have created challenges. We must face the reality of the situation and change if we are going to fully and successfully attract and retain students. We must be accessible and responsive to student expectations while providing a high quality, specialized, valued and affordable education.

To this end, university leadership has carefully undertaken a comprehensive review of the university’s organizational structure.  Our goal is simple:

To develop a modern and effective organizational structure which supports the university in achieving long term sustainability and vitality – focused on student success.

This review has taken place over the past several months, and has been consultative, evidence based and objective driven. And it is most assuredly not unlike the challenging processes going on at other universities in this region and across Canada, as we all face changing demographics in an increasingly competitive environment.

Today, we are sharing with members of the university community the new organizational structure that will support the long-term success of NSCAD and enable us to operate with a balanced budget a major priority to the NSCAD board of governors, as well as our major funder, the Province of Nova Scotia. We will achieve this through a combination of financial cost reductions as a result of reduced workforce, and with a strong focus on improving the student journey experience and enhancing our organizational effectiveness aligned with the NSCAD University Strategic Framework.

The reorganization will focus on administrative efficiency, and student attraction and success. Earlier today, I personally met with a number of employees whose positions are being phased out. We will outsource custodial services to an external agency, chosen through a competitive bid process. We have also created better alignment in administrative support areas and have reduced some positions. The financial impact will contribute to our ability to achieve a balanced budget and set us on a path of stability. The affected employees have been provided appropriate levels of severance according to in-place agreements. In addition we have retained professional human resources counselling services to fully support them in their transition.

I want to make it very clear that these considerations were not taken lightly, or over a short period of time. We value all of our employees, and we don’t underestimate the impact that change – any change – has on an individual or a team.  However we have had to make some difficult but necessary decisions to set this university up for long-term viability and success.

By making these changes, (please click here to view new Organizational Framework) we will be able to improve the communication and information transfer among senior leaders through a more fully integrated and accountable decision-making model.  By clarifying structures and setting in place a clear focus on student attraction, success and retention, our future will be stronger and more secure.

When I arrived almost a year ago in my role as President it was clear that real change was required. I committed to gain a deep understanding of the school’s vision and strategic plan, challenges and opportunities, barriers and resources, structure, and external realities and internal perceptions. Armed with these insights, we set out to draft and finalize a path forward in the form of a Strategic Framework. That Framework is complete and ready to implement.

Change requires action and now is the time to act boldly and move forward together, based on the collective vision of our creative community. In the coming months, NSCAD University will be seeking academic substantial equivalency status through the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). In addition we will be creating new faculty excellence awards in the areas of teaching, research and creative works.

We are on a transformational journey to deliver our vision and mission as NSCAD continues as an influential, innovative, world-renowned and independent university of art, craft and design; one that contributes greatly to Nova Scotia’s and Canada’s creative economy. We will achieve this by working together and supporting one another. I am grateful for, and inspired by, the support of so many colleagues, students, alumni, donors and community members.

Professor Dianne Taylor-Gearing,

President, NSCAD University

For further information, please see: A New Organizational Framework Q&As