During what was supposed to be a meeting to admit the new NSCAD Alumni Association executive members to office, Cameron Jantzen was removed as the president of the association. At the executive meeting held last Thursday, September 17, the association’s vice-president, Duane Jones, stepped up to be elected president.
The alumni president’s removal is related to another president’s demise: university president Aoife Mac Namara, who was suddenly fired by the NSCAD board of governors in the summer, just one year into her term. Jantzen, who represented the alumni on the board of governors, voted with the board’s majority to oust Mac Namara. That vote against Mac Namara did not sit well with the alumni. (Jones, as alumni vice-president, was also at the board table. He voted not to fire Mac Namara.)
Earlier this month, a routine meeting open to all alumni association members turned into a public rebuke of Jantzen, with the alumni taking a vote of non-confidence in him. Jones organized a follow-up meeting, held September 16, for alumni to share their concerns. The alumni reiterated their displeasure about Jantzen voting against the university’s popular president. “The intention was that I could gather a lot of those ideas together to present back to the board of governors,” says Jones, the Halifax-based founder of podcast and clothing brand Art Pays Me.
Out of respect for the way the alumni community felt, Jones offered that he could become alumni president. “I mean, I was reluctant to,” he says. “I got a sense that people were not thrilled with how things went, and I put myself forward and ended up getting the new presidency.”
Although Jantzen was removed before the end of his two-year tenure, he still has a seat on the alumni association as past president. One of the past president’s duties is to advise the current president. “Cameron understood,” Jones says. “He was, to be honest, very respectful of the way things played out, and he’s been very supportive since and has been helping me with the transition.”
Alumna and current student Emily Davidson says she’s excited to see Jones’s leadership. She says she felt represented when he voted to keep Mac Namara as president of the school. “And I felt really positive about the way he showed leadership at the alumni association annual general meeting.”
Jones was elected at a meeting of the alumni’s executive, a session closed to regular members of the association. Davidson hopes the election process in the future is open, so other members know who’s going to be their president. “If, procedurally, it had been allowed to vote for a new president that night”—at the meeting where the alumni voted to criticize Jantzen—“I feel like that would have just been so much more member-oriented,” she says.
The new vice-president of the association is Jeremy Tsang. Until that promotion, Tsang served on the alumni board as representative of the association’s Toronto chapter.