Halifax family donates $3 million to NSCAD

Metro Halifax comments@cbpost.com
Published on July 10, 2014
Margaret Fountain smiles after announcing Wednesday that she and her husband David are donating $3 million to NSCAD University. The art school says the gift is one of the largest in its 127-year history.
Metro Halifax/Desiree Finhert

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia College of Art and Design students, who had prepared for devastating news, were relieved to learn Wednedsay their school wasn’t closing.

Loud applause broke out as board member Margaret Fountain and her husband David announced a $3 million donation to the university at the Granville Square campus, Wednesday.

“I think a lot of us were expecting this to be along the lines of ‘this campus isn’t going to be a thing anymore. We’re going to get rid of it. We’re all going to move to the port.’ This is much better to hear than that,” said student Rose Erin.

The school is $13 million in debt, most of which is related to a $9 million loan to construct the waterfront campus.

There has been talk of cutting faculty, staff and programs, or amalgamating with Dalhousie in order to manage the debt.

“All the news we’ve received up until now has been negative,” said student Becky Gartner. “It’s good to know there’s going to be some money going to this campus and it won’t just disappear.”

The Board of Governors has yet to determine how the money will be spent, but a press release states the money will support major improvements to the downtown campus located in Historic Properties.

“Part of the responsibility of philanthropists is to be observant of what is required in your community, where the needs are… Right now the relevance for me is NSCAD,” Fountain told Metro.

NSCAD president Daniel O’Brien said the school would have faced a lot of uncertainty without the donation.

“It makes it a lot better. It ignites the confidence of our users as you can see in the room today,” said O’Brien. “We’re hoping that a gift of this sort attracts the attention of other potential donors.”

The downtown campus will be renamed the Fountain Campus in honour of the donation.