NSCAD Senior Administration
Dr. Sarah McKinnon
Sarah McKinnon, PhD, became NSCAD University’s Interim President on July 15, 2020. Dr. McKinnon is one of Canada’s most experienced and respected academic leaders in the world of fine and applied arts. She spent over a decade at the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U), where she served as Acting President, and has held senior academic and administrative roles at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (SMFA) and the University of Winnipeg. Most recently, Dr. McKinnon served as Director of Academics at The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
Since joining NSCAD, Dr. McKinnon’s leadership helped the university successfully navigate a global pandemic, pivot to online learning and undertake complex return to campus preparation and planning. She also led the development of NSCAD’s new mission and vision and advanced the university’s growth priorities including strategic fundraising, student enrollment and improved accessible and sustainable learning spaces through the Port Campus revitalization project. Her commitment to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion throughout campus helped establish NSCAD’s first President’s Advisory Council on Anti-Racist Initiatives as well as its new Office of Opportunity and Belonging to influence a culture of engagement across the university, particularly with Mi’kmaq, Indigenous, African Nova Scotian and international students.
Dr. McKinnon has extensive experience in program development and a proven record of working closely with governments to gain institutional accreditations and approvals for new degree programs both in Canada and in the United States. She is also recognized for the quality of her academic rigor and since 2016, has been a member of the Audit Committee for Quality Assurance for the Council of Ontario Universities. She is also the current Secretary-Treasurer of the Board of the Room 217 Foundation, a charity that uses music to change the culture of healthcare.
Vice-President, Academics and Research, and Provost
Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff
Ann-Barbara is a graduate of the University of Toronto (BA, MA, PhD) and the Institute for Management and Leadership in Higher Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education (MIE). Ann- Barbara has been at NSCAD University since 2014, she is also adjunct faculty in the Graduate Department of English at Dalhousie University. Ann-Barbara is a feminist scholar of the nineteenth century. She focuses on critical theory, particularly evolutionary metaphorics and the production of hegemonic narratives of Englishness, and digital humanities.
Ann-Barbara’s current research has focused strategies for confronting systemic racism in the academy and removing barriers to participation for historically underrepresented populations.
Chief Financial Officer
Leanne Dowe, CPA, CA
NSCAD appointed Leanne Dowe to Chief Financial Officer after serving as the university’s controller since 2016. She is a chartered professional accountant (CPA, CA) and has more than 30 years of experience as a finance professional including serving as CFO for Gammon Gold and director of finance for both the Arts Club Theatre Society and Forefront Entertainment Group.
As CFO, Leanne provides strategic financial and risk management of the university and serves as an executive resource to NSCAD’s Board of Governors including the Finance and Physical Resources Committee, and Audit and Risk Committee. She is also a board member and executive committee member of Atlantic Universities’ Interuniversity Services Incorporated.
Leanne holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS.
Dr. Martine Durier-Copp
Dr. Martine Durier-Copp, M.A., M.Mus., Ph.D. is an experienced, multi-lingual academic administrator who is highly skilled in the design and management of executive programs, graduate advanced education, public policy, and governance.
Dr. Durier-Copp joined NSCAD in March 2020 as Academic Dean, from Dalhousie University, where she served as Director, Centre for Executive and Graduate Education in the Faculty of Management, and Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Administration. Prior to that, she worked for the Federal and Provincial governments in senior leadership positions. She is a published researcher/author in digital learning strategies. She has served on the board of the Institute on Governance for 5 years.
Dr. Durier-Copp has long been a supporter and practitioner of the arts for her entire career. She is a member of the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, Chair of Strategic Arts Management, and has been artistic director and choreographer of Canada Council for the Arts-supported Flamenco en Rouge for close to ten years. She trains regularly and intensively every year in Spain under flamenco masters.
Associate Vice-President, Operations
Isabelle Nault is a bilingual (French-English) architect with more than 15 years of diverse experience in project management, architectural design, and construction management that includes public sector and heritage buildings. She joined NSCAD in November 2020 as its first Associate Vice-President, Operations, and has since led the design of a robust infrastructure plan to prepare the university for the future.
In her role, Isabelle provides strategic oversight over NSCAD’s major capital construction projects, infrastructure operations and administrative portfolios to ensure efficient operations in Facilities, Human Resources and Information Technology.
Isabelle comes to NSCAD after serving as manager of architecture and design at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where she led revitalization work on late-nineteenth century buildings and construction of major new capital projects. She holds a graduate diploma in architecture from Athabasca University, as well as an undergraduate degree in architecture from the Université de Montréal. She is also a certified Project Management Professional and is certified in workplace mental health leadership. Isabelle volunteers on the board of the Halifax City Soccer Club.