Peggy Shannon has worked at a host of universities across North America.
Peggy Shannon has worked at a host of universities across North America.

NSCAD University welcomes new president

Appointed in December 2021, Peggy Shannon’s first week on the job starts now.

The president’s desk at NSCAD University must, at this point, be a smooth, worn-down patina, based sheerly off the number of times it’s been swiped, skidded across, packed up and unloaded over the past couple of years: Back in 2019, Aoife Mac Namara took the helm of the first degree-granting art school in the country. A year later, without explanation, she was fired—and outrage spiked both on-campus at protests and online in Canada’s visual arts community. The Globe & Mail was quick to report Mac Namara’s ousting was tied to the legacy institution’s real-estate woes, saying she saw a conflict of interest in the school’s Board of Governors.

(The school’s been planning an exodus from its current Granville campus location since at least 2015; in 2018, then-president Dianne Taylor-Gearing told CBC "We have leaking roofs." Meanwhile, internal emails obtained by the Globe show board members pressuring Mac Namara to sell the heritage buildings in exchange for a new campus.)

NSCAD’s interim president, Sarah McKinnon, took the job in July 2020. She oversaw the launch of a new, annual film fest celebrating movie-making alumni. She was also the one to announce, in May 2021, that NSCAD would not be going ahead with its four-years-deep plan to relocate to the waterfront, next to the site of the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (which is currently being built overtop a former parking lot at the end of Salter Street).

This week, McKinnon’s successor—Dr. Peggy Shannon—takes the chair. Appointed in December 2021, Shannon’s resume includes time in the top brass at several North American institutions, from University of California at Davis, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) to, most recently, San Diego State University.

Mac Namara, meanwhile, was appointed dean of the faculty of arts at the University of Calgary on July 1.

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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