Three months after Aoife Mac Namara’s dismissal as NSCAD’s president, the art school community is still upset about why this happened. The latest frustration is at Cameron Jantzen, the NSCAD Alumni Association president.
Last Tuesday, September 8, the alumni association held its annual general meeting. Although the main business of the meeting was to elect new members to the AA board—which was done—things got heated over the way the alumni are represented on the NSCAD board of governors. Many of the attendees on the Zoom call criticized the alumni president, because he voted at a board meeting to fire Mac Namara as the president of the institution.
The alumni have two seats on the university’s board. Those are currently filled by AA president Jantzen and Duane Jones, the vice-president of the association.
Jones, who voted at the board to keep Mac Namara, says the alumni meeting was challenging but important. “I’m hoping that the discussions we had will lead to more ongoing engagement between us and the broader community of NSCAD alumni,” he messaged The Coast.
Members of the association want to know why Jantzen voted Mac Namara out, says alumna Emily Davidson. “I think a lot of us who came to the meeting wanted answers as to why the president of the alumni association voted in favour of firing Dr. Mac Namara, and why the alumni association has been so wishy-washy on the issue since that happened.”
She says during the meeting, it felt as though Jantzen was avoiding the issue. “And to avoid taking responsibility for his role in firing Dr. Mac Namara.” Jantzen happens to be the secretary for the board, a role that puts him on the board’s executive committee.
Many members of the NSCAD community have signed the Friends of NSCAD petition to fire the board of governors and reinstate Mac Namara, Davidson says. “The feeling in the room was that in order to continue leading the alumni association, Cameron Jantzen would need to reverse on his current position and really fight for what our community is saying.”
At the end of the meeting, the members of the alumni took a vote of non-confidence in their president, and it passed. Although that vote doesn’t remove Jantzen from office, Davidson says it indicates that the alumni have lost faith in him “because of his inability to show leadership on this issue.” She says in her opinion if Jantzen doesn’t take their concerns to the university’s board, the alumni association will “continue to seek ways to remove him from office.” But she hopes it doesn’t get to that.
Davidson says although “many people at the meeting expressed concerns that this issue wasn’t being addressed adequately,” they were told that it’ll be one of the issues to be discussed at an alumni town-hall meeting in October.
When asked about last week’s meeting and the non-confidence vote, Jantzen pointed out there are more alumni association meetings this week on Wednesday and Thursday, and “we’ll be in best position to assist you following those meetings,” he says by email. “Feel free to check in on Friday.”