The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design’s board of governors voted to remove its president Aoife Mac Namara following a board meeting held last week.
In an internal memo released Sunday to the NSCAD community, the board of governors chair Louise Anne Comeau thanked Mac Namara for her contributions to the fine arts institution.
“The Board would like to thank Dr. Mac Namara for her contributions over the past year, and for her help navigating the pandemic and positioning NSCAD for the year ahead,” wrote Comeau in the memo.
“Ordinarily, we would have advised members of our community in a more timely manner. However, we are respectful that this is a personnel matter and our priority was communication with Dr. Mac Namara. We hope Dr. Mac Namara will continue to play a valuable role in our university’s future.”
NASCAD and board chair Comeau appointed Mac Namara as president back in August after an extensive search to replace professor Dianne Taylor-Gearing who left the position following a five-year term.
Mac Namara wrote in a private Twitter message that her removal “came as a massive shock” and she had first learned about the board’s decision to remove her from messages she had received from friends.
In a statement, the NSCAD faculty union says they were “shocked and appalled” by the board’s decision, saying there was no consultation with the University community regarding the removal of Mac Namara.
“The President (Mac Namara) was building bridges and trying to bring the University together after the strike last March at the same time that the entire University is having to pivot to online teaching because of COVID-19, a truly challenging and unprecedented time,” wrote Mathew Reichertz, president of the faculty union.
Reichertz called the board’s decision completely “opaque” and said the union was impressed with Mac Namara’s support for diversity and her “efforts to bring transparency to the actions of the administration and the board.”
Wren Tian-Morris just graduated from NSCAD and helped reinstate the NCSAD queer collective and says president Mac Namara was making great inroads in promoting greater diversity at the school.
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“A lot of us were extremely shocked by it, it was an absurd decision and it certainly came out of nowhere,” said Tian-Morris. “She (Mac Namara) was trying to be productive and listen to these calls to action on how to change the institution and it just seemed like it was going well in all regards.”
There’s a petition online calling for the reinstatement of Mac Namara as president from the group “Friends of NSCAD” who describe themselves as an ad hoc assembly of faculty, staff students, alumni, and concerned citizens.
The faculty union is also calling on the board to reverse its decision and reinstate Namara as president. The union is also asking the school and its board of governors to implement a strategy for greater transparency within the board’s administration.