Students, faculty at NSCAD call for greater board transparency after president's firing
Aoife Mac Namara was removed as president on Friday
Students and faculty at NSCAD University are calling for greater transparency over the recent firing of the university president, Aoife Mac Namara.
Mac Namara started her term last August and was abruptly let go on Friday after a board meeting on Thursday. The board of governors announced the move to the university community in an email Sunday.
"Ordinarily, we would have advised members of our community in a more timely manner," the board's email said. "However, we are respectful that this is a personnel matter and our priority was communication with Dr. Mac Namara."
Board of governors vice-chair Sean Kelly referred CBC to the statement, saying he wasn't able to comment further on Mac Namara's removal.
This comes at a time when the university is handling the pressures of moving teaching online due to COVID-19 for both the spring and fall term.
Reichertz said he feels it is "incumbent" upon the board to explain more about their decision to let Mac Namara go at such a critical time for the university.
"The way she was doing a good job was being collaborative and being transparent and being communicative. So when she was fired without any warning at all, and now without any real reason, it just doesn't make sense."
Reichertz says the school has done well in recent years after a 2013 financial crisis, though it is highly dependent on hitting a certain level of enrolment.
The firing also comes as Mac Namara had just put forward a plan to address systemic racism at the university, and as the university continues to deal with issues at its outdated Granville Street property, which a 2013 report called "unfit for function. "
There are two student representatives and two faculty representatives on the 22-member board of governors.
First-year student Megan Hulan said she doesn't feel that arrangement is sufficient to properly represent the interests of the student body. Many of the other board members, including the chair and vice-chair, are members of Halifax's business or legal community.
A group called Friends of NSCAD has created a petition, which Hulan supports, asking for the provincial government to remove the board and reinstate Mac Namara.
"This is a decision that was made completely in private. It was made completely out of view of the student body and there was no indication that proper HR protocols were followed and no indication of their motivation or of what factors went into this decision," she said.
DeRico Symonds is a Halifax community advocate who came to know Mac Namara through projects they began together.
"She was interested to learn more about the things that I was doing and hear from my perspective," Symonds said.
"I thought it was amazing and pretty progressive of a university president to reach out and actively wanting to know those things."
Some of the ideas Mac Namara and Symonds were collaborating on included making a 50-seat theatre at NSCAD available to the Black community for storytelling, or making microphones, speakers and other equipment available to Black students in the school system who are being disadvantaged by COVID-19.
"I was disappointed to see that she was let go," Symonds said, adding that the firing had ended some budding relationships between Mac Namara and the community.