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NSCAD University approves 2020-2021 budget, freezes tuition

NSCAD University approves 2020-2021 budget, freezes tuition
K’jipuktuk/Halifax (June 30, 2020) – Yesterday, the NSCAD University (NSCAD) Board of Governors approved the 2020-2021 budget, committing to hold tuition fees to current levels for the upcoming year. The budget, with expenditures of approximately $19.7 million, is about $1 million less than the previous year’s budget. Revenues are approximately $19.1 million, down about $1.5 million from 2019-2020.

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to congratulate NSCAD’s senior leadership team for creating a responsible and realistic budget for the current year. This budget reflects what we’ve been hearing from our students about the importance of keeping tuition at its current level,” said Louise-Anne Comeau, Vice President, New Energy Markets and Innovation, Emera and Chair of NSCAD’s Board of Governors.

“We would like to thank all NSCAD faculty and employees for their compassion, sacrifices and ongoing commitment to the university and especially our students. Within a few days they moved to remote teaching to complete the winter semester and have since developed high-quality, professionally designed online courses that will maintain the academic excellence and distinct student experience for which NSCAD is renowned.”

The current year budget was adjusted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on NSCAD’s operations. The university is using approximately $679,000 of its reserves to cover the budget deficit while holding tuition at current levels for 2020-2021.

NSCAD mitigated impacts to its modest reserves through a hold on hiring for new positions and for most vacant positions, voluntary furloughs to employees, and voluntary wage reductions for senior management on a five to 20 per cent sliding scale, which resulted in compensation savings of $758,000.  A further $830,000 reduction in operating expenses came from reductions in work-related travel and discretionary expenses; deferred significant capital expenses and facility repairs; and savings on utility costs in empty buildings. Strategic investments totalling $700,000 are allocated in the budget for developing online instruction, furthering sexualized violence prevention programs, and equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“As part of our strategic investments, the university will continue to support important equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives,” said Louise-Anne Comeau. “The Board wholeheartedly supports the initiatives undertaken to date, including the formation of a multi-stakeholder advisory council to assist with the development of an anti-racism action plan for NSCAD. We look forward to continuing this important work and to matching our actions to our words.”

“This budget is the result of a great deal of hard work over several months by everyone at NSCAD to create a responsible and stable environment to weather the pandemic’s ongoing global economic challenges while keeping our community safe,” said NSCAD University’s acting president Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff. “The pandemic and related public health directives are continuing to create financial challenges for all universities. Smaller and more maker-centric ones like NSCAD have had to really pivot quickly to adapt to provide new modes of delivering curriculum.”

Throughout all changes to help manage the university’s finances through the pandemic, the health and safety of students, staff and faculty, and the public remain the first priority in all of NSCAD’s decisions and actions, said Dr. Graff.

“I’m very grateful to the entire NSCAD community – past and present governors, alumni, faculty, staff, friends – for joining me in supporting the university’s Student Emergency Fund that raised $70,000 in a little over a month to provide a much-needed lifeline for over 100 NSCAD students facing financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic,” said Dr. Graff. “Thanks to this generosity, NSCAD students withstood the worst economic impacts of the pandemic and were able to continue in their creative education.”

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A further comment on the leadership transition from the Chair, Board of Governors:

The NSCAD Board of Governors recognizes there have been questions raised about the recent news regarding NSCAD’s former president, as well as comments about the Board’s role in such a process.

We cannot and will not get into details on decisions made regarding confidential personnel matters that rest between the board and its president. An independent university board’s fiduciary duty is to ensure that the mission and vision of the university is fulfilled, key risks are mitigated, and that the president of the university fulfills the requirements of the role.

The board has oversight over the hiring and removal of the president. The Board’s priorities have been and always will be to ensure that governance of the university is effective and that the university’s long-term sustainability and interests are first and foremost.