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Farewell message from President Dr. Sara Diamond

Dear members of the OCAD University community, 

On June 30, my service as OCAD University’s President and Vice-Chancellor ends and I become your President Emerita. Whether we study at OCAD University or work here, we have responded to an existential challenge over the last four months – the advent of COVID-19.  I thank you again for the courage and resilience that you have shown. It has been a privilege to guide our University through this uncharted territory.

I came to OCAD 15 years ago having taught at three of the world’s leading art and design schools – the California Institute of the Arts, UCLA, and Central Saint Martins, and at Canada’s Emily Carr University of Art + Design. I founded the Banff New Media Institute and was a leader of The Banff Centre.

The talent, imagination, passion and commitment of the OCAD University community of students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and volunteers has allowed us to surpass the achievements of these schools in so many ways. Our impact has grown despite the cyclical fiscal challenges that we have faced.

Why are we strong?

We truly care about our diverse, talented and unique students and consider them in every decision.

We recognize that imagination is fundamental to solving complex problems at every scale.

We embody the creative, energetic seeker and speaker of truth, with a passionate commitment to social justice and a phenomenal command of sensory language.

We build upon our history, check the outside world for relevance, then revamp, and relaunch, undertaking change as needed, without losing our direction.

We graduate alumni and are home to faculty who are successes in art, design, curation, digital media, technology and the humanities, or are a fifth column in sectors such as health care, social work, community service, the sciences, financial services, ICT, and automotive.

We apply methods from our academic and research programs, such as strategic foresight and design thinking, studio critique and Indigenous visual culture, to help us plan our future, and act in the present.

We improve the world around us at the local and global scale.

We work hard at decolonization, equity, gender and sexual diversity, and inclusion.

We are lean.

We survive failures and bounce back with a sense of humour.

We have strong governance bodies – our Senate, Board of Governors and Indigenous Education Council.

We are deeply committed to OCAD U.

I thank all of you – faculty, staff, academic leaders, administrators, OCADFA, OPSEU and OCADSU, who have stood side-by-side with me from the beginning and those more recently aboard, for the journey that we have undertaken together. I thank our students for your constant inspiration. 

Let us celebrate the diversity and relevance of our faculty, programs, and research. Let us acknowledge our efforts towards student success. Let us recognize and honour our dynamic partnerships, relationships, advocates and volunteers. Let us celebrate the people who make up OCAD U. Let us continue to transform and thrive.

I look forward to supporting OCAD University as your President Emerita.

Warm regards,

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