Education Media release

Media release: NSCAD faculty union calls for public inquiry

June 7, 2021


The Faculty Union of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (FUNSCAD) are very concerned by the information revealed in the Globe and Mail ( June 7, 2021) on the ongoing lack of transparency over the firing of the previous president and the Board of Governors’ plans for the school’s future.

On June 26, 2020, the NSCAD community was shocked by the sudden firing of Dr. Aoife Mac Namara after scarcely 11 months as University President. Mac Namara had undertaken numerous positive initiatives, had widespread support from the community and was compassionately leading NSCAD through the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lingering question of whether this firing was related to the potential sale of the University’s Fountain Campus in the Historic Properties remains unanswered. A further related question is whether the Board of Governors hired consultant Bonnie Patterson ($1500/day) to monitor Mac Namara’s performance. 

On January 29, 2021, NSCAD was sanctioned by the Nova Scotia Information Commissioner (Review # 21-2) for its poor handling of FOIPOP requests on these subjects submitted by independent researcher Ken Rubin. Subsequent NSCAD responses to these requests have been minimal and redactions made. Mr. Rubin shared this with FUNSCAD, as well as his complaints about NSCAD’s continued stalling to respond to the majority of his FOIPOP requests. NSCAD is a public institution, not a private corporation; its Board of Governors must be held to the same high standard of disclosure and accountability as all other publicly funded institutions.

Back on July 8, 2020, FUNSCAD’s membership expressed its lack of confidence in the Board of Governors with 95.6% of its members voting and 96.3% of those voting NO CONFIDENCE due to the lack of transparency over the decision to fire Mac Namara. NSCAD’s Senate, the academic governing body of NSCAD’s bicameral system followed with a near-unanimous motion of NO CONFIDENCE. FUNSCAD calls on the Board of Governors to renew confidence in its leadership of NSCAD by affirming and enacting the principles of true and real openness, consultation, transparency and accountability as the basis for due process and decision-making. 

The firing of Mac Namara and the subsequent ongoing search for a new president have incurred significant financial costs. So far, the Board has provided no explanation to justify this. FUNSCAD is drawing attention to the Board’s ongoing lack of transparency in making decisions that affect the financial security of a public institution crucial to the vitality of the arts in Nova Scotia and beyond. 
The lack of transparency over its real estate dealings, its withholding of information requested through FOIPOP, and the matters raised in the Globe and Mail article, pose serious questions. That is why FUNSCAD wants a provincial inquiry on the decision-making at this public institution.


One Comment

  1. As an Alumni l am saddened by the firing of Ms Macnamara; we were looking forward to great things Ms McNamara would bring to her position as President. Her international experience would help draw students and faculty with a wider world view.Certainly NSCAD,s reputation has been marred by the board’s actions. W hen young potential artists ask me about the future of NSCAD l am at a loss to promote NSCAD due to the present situation. The board of Governors has accountability to a much wider community than they realize. We in the Arts community need answers in order to rebuild our confidence in the board. Perhaps we need a whole new board to go forward.

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