News / Calgary

Alberta College of Art and Design buoyed by talks with Advanced Education minister

Marlin Schmidt's candid discussion gives ACAD hope they may soon hear about becoming a university

Alberta Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt, 2017.

Helen Pike / Metro

Alberta Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt, 2017.

A minister's candid comments to students in Calgary are giving a city arts institution hope for their future after weeks of uncertainty.

In October, news broke that the art college was on the brink of unsustainability, according to a report obtained by Metro. The report detailed that spending was outpacing revenues and that the college was balancing books with reserve funding.

This all came after the Government of Alberta rejected the school's expansion plans, telling ACAD it had to present three years of balanced budgets first.

In a small classroom setting, Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt met with students at ACAD after recent unrest and talks of financial turbulence. And his remarks were the subject of a cheery email from president Daniel Doz, who wrote he was heartened Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt had time to squeeze them into his packed schedule.

"Schmidt noted that ACAD should be hearing back quite soon on the Government’s decision to grant university status," wrote Doz. "The Minister also spoke to the “injustice” in the current funding model for disbursing operating grants across the post-secondary sector and how they have been working on putting in place an equitable funding mechanism."

Technically, the Government of Alberta categorizes ACAD as a specialized arts and culture institution and in that category, they can offer degrees, diplomas, certificates, applied degrees and more.

Doz expressed what it would mean for the institution to be recognized with university status, like other art colleges across Canada.

"This level of acknowledgement, at this time, from the Government is an encouraging signal that they recognize the importance and value of an ACAD education and the impact our students and alumni make in our community and beyond," wrote Doz.

When asked about the meeting Friday, the ministry provided a written statement on behalf of Minister Schmidt, who was in back-to-back meetings in Calgary.

"Minister Schmidt was glad to meet with students and the President to discuss recent issues related to sustainability," wrote press secretary Samantha Power.

"The minister is supportive of ACAD and wants to ensure the institution’s success."

Power said the ministry's decision on university status is still wrapped up in the roles and mandates review.

"That review is still in process, and we don’t expect to make an announcement on changes until the new year," she wrote. "Similarly, the funding model for ACAD isn’t slated to change before decisions are made on the system resourcing review."

Power underscored that Schmidt's goal for meeting with ACAD was to keep the communication lines open. ​

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