April 2 Update from President Diamond

Roadside 'Stay Home' sign

Sent to all faculty, staff and students on April 2, 2020 at 3:50 p.m.

In today’s message to the community, I hope you are all keeping safe and healthy at this time. Today, I share an update about how OCAD University is responding to the urgent plea from hospitals in the GTA for personal protective equipment as well as the announcement of the co-chairs leading the GradEx 105 Task Force.

But first, I offer a profound thank you to our entire community for your outstanding efforts and tireless commitment to finding alternate ways to support our students in completing and/or graduating this term.

I thank you, as well, for working from home or providing essential services to sustain the ongoing work of the University to plan ahead and withstand the COVID-19 pandemic. The level of cooperation and creativity of OCAD U is tremendous as we face down the current public health crisis.

To our students, I thank you for your ongoing patience, commitment to your studies, adaptability and passion for learning within very unique circumstances.
OCAD University designing and printing protective face shields
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase and spread, hospitals in the GTA are short of vital medical supplies. During this extraordinarily difficult time, we are proud to lend our expertise to support health care workers so they can stay safe while caring for patients.

Currently, OCAD U is printing face shields approved for Michael Garron Hospital (formerly Toronto East General Hospital). The hospital launched a PPE Drive campaign to encourage businesses and individuals with personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, to donate them to health care workers.

OCAD U faculty and technicians have been consulting with Ryerson University’s FCAD Creative Technology Lab, University Health Network Emergency administrators and colleagues at UC Davis in California to design and print these protective face shields.

On behalf of the University, I thank our staff and faculty who are printing these face shields in their own homes – thank you for your commitment! This is a terrific example of how creativity serves a vital function in society – that imaginations have the unique power to develop real-world solutions to improve and transform lives.

GradEx 105 Task Force Co-Chairs
I am pleased to announce that Vladimir Spicanovic, PhD and Melanie Printup Hope, MFA, have agreed to co-chair the GradEx 105 Task Force, which will focus on creating a platform for showcasing the work of our graduating students who would have normally participated in GradEx 105.

Vlad is currently on leave as a professor in the Faculty of Art; however, he has graciously agreed to step into the co-chair role to contribute to the University during a very extraordinary time.As the former Dean of the Faculty of Art for 10 years, Vlad brings extensive experience and involvement on previous GradEx initiatives. Prior to serving as Dean, he was Associate Dean and Assistant Dean within the Faculty. He obtained a BFA from Concordia University and holds an MA and a PhD from McGill University.

Melanie is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Design who joined the University in 2018 as one of five faculty hired through the Indigenous Cluster Hire. She brings a deep knowledge of design and decolonization to this important leadership role as co-chair. She is of Tuscarora and European descent and was raised on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in New York State. She earned a BFA in Graphic Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology and an MFA in Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. She is an Associate Professor Emerita at The Sage Colleges, Albany and Troy, New York and has also taught at Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta.

The University is grateful to have such strong and dedicated co-chairs who will move the University forward with a new iteration of Grad Ex 105. The task force will begin its work in early May and present recommendations by May 31.

Members on this task force will include stakeholders from across the institution, including students, deans and/or their designates and faculty members from the three Faculties and Graduate Studies and the Office of the VP Academic and Provost, as well as representatives from the OCAD U Student Union, GradEx 105 Committee, Centre for Emerging Artists and Designers, Indigenous Student Centre, Alumni Association, Office of the President, Advancement and Information Technology.

Details regarding the process of selecting task force members and the consultation process will be shared with the community shortly.

We know how important convocation is for students, faculty, friends, families and our entire community. Given that the City of Toronto has extended limits on large gatherings to June 30, we are now exploring alternatives for Convocation, which was slated for June 12. We will be sharing our plan with the community next week.

Fundraising campaign launched to support students
OCAD University is launching a fundraising campaign to raise funds for an expanded emergency bursary program to help students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Details will be available next week.

Government of Ontario coronavirus aid package
In previous messages to the community, I touched upon the University’s ongoing efforts to analyze and respond to the long-term impacts of COVID-19. We provided the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities with an assessment of financial and curricular impacts of COVID-19 on our University in both the short- and mid-term.

I am pleased to announce that OCAD U will receive $400,000 as part of the recently announced Ontario government’s aid package. The province also announced a six-month deferral of OSAP loan repayments and interest charges.

We continue to seek additional funding for OCAD U and the university sector, as well as effective support for students and for the cultural sector from all levels of government.  

OCAD U steps up to help the community – share your story
Many faculty, staff and students are helping out during this great time of need. Whether it is delivering groceries to seniors or sewing masks for people who work in grocery stores, I know many of you are finding ways to help out during this crisis.

We have begun to tell these stories on our website and through social media. Read the story about Dr. Kate Sellen, Canada Research Chair in Health Design and her team at the Health Design Studio, who are working with a group of physicians at assessment centres and ERs in Toronto and Alberta to create the COVID-19 printable project.

I invite you to share your story with OCAD U at communications@ocadu.ca.

Warm regards,

Dr. Sara Diamond, C.M., O.ON., R.C.A., ICD.D
President and Vice-Chancellor
OCAD University