NSCAD requests study of Dal, SMU collaboration

Proposals to examine infrastructure challenges, room for collaboration with other universities

The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Granville campus requires $15-20 million worth of maintenance to meet building standards. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design is seeking an outside opinion to examine collaboration with other Halifax universities and the way it uses campus space.

NSCAD submitted the two tenders on Dec. 1. The first proposal request was for a feasibility study to determine how increased collaboration with Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University would affect NSCAD. The other request was for a space utilization review to analyze how efficiently campus space is being used.

The tenders are in response to two recommendations made in the Howard Windsor Report in 2011, stipulating that NSCAD should explore collaboration opportunities with other universities and whether campus space is being used effectively at the school’s three campuses.

Marilyn Smulders, director of communication at NSCAD, said the feasibility study is to explore where collaborations with Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s, such as program creation, can take place. She emphasized the reports were not a precursor to a possible merger.

“When the Howard Windsor [Report] was presented last December it was made clear collaboration is not code-word for a merger,” she said.

The feasibility tender states any union between NSCAD and Dalhousie or Saint Mary’s could not “adversely affect NSCAD’s academic, financial and governance sovereignty.”

Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s are also wary of accumulating NSCAD’s debt. NSCAD has a projected cash deficit of $1,364,000 this fiscal year.

One of the biggest liabilities is NSCAD’s Granville campus, which requires $15-20 million worth of maintenance liability to meet present-day building standards. The feasibility tender states a plan would need to be implemented so another university wouldn’t be burdened by the outstanding cost.

It goes on to state that if collaboration with another university does not yield clear benefits, NSCAD will continue to make changes unilaterally, possibly vacating the Granville campus to reduce funds directed towards maintenance and facility operating costs.

The space utilization tender identifies several challenges with NSCAD infrastructure, including pricey renovations to aging buildings, lack of accessibility for the mobility challenged, and a lack of academic spaces provided by other universities.

The tender also states that operating out of three campuses stretches the university’s ability to pay for utilities, maintenance and insurance.

The last space review was conducted in 2005, and enrolment has grown 35 per cent between 2005 and 2010 to around 1,000 students today. Growth projections show enrolment growing by 10 per cent — about 85 students — by 2017.

NSCAD Feasibility Tender

NSCAD Space Utilization Tender