FFWD REW

ACAD reinstates Ferguson

The Alberta College of Art and Design has reinstated Gord Ferguson after firing him last week following a controversial performance in the school’s cafeteria.

The college released a statement this afternoon that reads: "While the College’s decision to terminate Mr. Ferguson was never intended to be about academic or artistic freedom the College acknowledges the perception this action may have created. Mr. Ferguson acknowledges that he wishes he could have had a greater opportunity to advise and support his student before he undertook his performance on April 18 2013. Both Mr. Ferguson and the College regret that the incident happened." (Read the full statement below).

On April 18 an ACAD student slaughtered a chicken during a performance meant to raise awareness over how our food gets to our plate. After the performance the college brought in an outside investigator to determine what steps it should take. Approximately three weeks later Ferguson the instructor overseeing the assignment was fired.

ACAD has been tight lipped during the ensuing uproar which spread across the country. Open letters to ACAD flooded in and the school faced immense scrutiny from the media. The school was under intense pressure to reinstate the instructor.

Speculation has swirled particularly amongst Calgary’s arts community about the pressure from donors to do something about the peformance in light of a provincial budget that slashed funding to Alberta’s post-secondaries but it remains just that speculation.

FULL STATEMENT:

May 15 2013

Joint Statement from Alberta College of Art + Design and ACAD Faculty Association Regarding the Reinstatement of Gord Ferguson

This statement was developed jointly by the Alberta College of Art + Design and the Alberta College of Art + Design Faculty Association (ACADFA).

The Alberta College of Art + Design and ACAD Faculty Association have reached an agreement leading to the immediate reinstatement of Mr. Gord Ferguson.

While the College’s decision to terminate Mr. Ferguson was never intended to be about academic or artistic freedom the College acknowledges the perception this action may have created. Mr. Ferguson acknowledges that he wishes he could have had a greater opportunity to advise and support his student before he undertook his performance on April 18 2013. Both Mr. Ferguson and the College regret that the incident happened.

All parties acknowledge that this incident has raised important issues about the relationship between a teacher and student and a student’s work.

All parties believe that there will be lessons learned from this incident and that the recent public discussion has helped to illustrate the important principles of academic freedom. The College believes that there is an opportunity to develop clear principles around the issues of academic responsibility and artistic freedom.

The discussion has also reinforced that through open debate we gain insight understanding and engage the community: all goals of an art and design college. The College and the Faculty Association plan to hold a symposium to openly explore the many dimensions of the performance and the issues it has raised in the next academic year.

For 87 years ACAD has been committed to maintaining an environment that allows artistic and academic freedom to flourish in a positive learning environment while at the same time protecting the well being of all members of our community. The dialogue initiated by this incident will help us continue to meet this commitment.

“We will learn some valuable lessons from the recent incident at ACAD” says Dr. Daniel Doz ACAD president. “Ultimately we are here for our students and our 2013 convocation ceremony is what we are focusing on currently and we are proud of the contributions that our students will make in the arts community for years to come.”

“After a difficult few weeks we are happy to put this all behind us and am eager to start building towards the next semester” says Alex Link ACADFA president. “Our faculty are looking forward to sharing in the celebrations of ACAD’s graduating class of 2013 at tomorrow’s convocation ceremony – we have a lot to be proud of at the College.”

Tags: