New board for under-fire National College of Art and Design

Audited accounts up to the end of 2012 have now been presented to C&AG, says college

The Minister for Education has named six new appointees to the board of NCAD, including Niamh Brennan, academic director of the UCD Centre for Corporate Governance. Photograph: The Irish Times

The Minister for Education has named six new appointees to the board of NCAD, including Niamh Brennan, academic director of the UCD Centre for Corporate Governance. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

A new board has been announced for the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) aimed at strengthening its governance and financial controls after recent controversies.

Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan has named six new appointees including Niamh Brennan, academic director of the UCD Centre for Corporate Governance.

The appointments come in the wake of criticism by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) of the college’s failure to keep proper accounts, a situation described by members of the Public Accounts Committee as “scandalous”.

The NCAD told The Irish Times that all NCAD accounts up to the end of 2012 have now been audited and presented to the office of the C&AG.

“The Financial Statements for 2013 are with the Office of the C&AG, and the audit file is being prepared. The focus will then turn to getting the 2014 accounts ready for audit as quickly as possible. The college is using every available resource to achieve this,” said the NCAD.

It also said it had agreed terms of a four-year lease on a new building for postgraduate students after this year’s disruption to students who had to move studio mid-term.

The lease is for buildings owned by Diageo on James’s Street, Dublin 8, “providing studio space for post-graduate students, for research activity and for material from the College Library/National Irish Visual Arts Library. This lease will also provide a large Lecture Theatre, in a separate building”.

There have been several demonstrations by students on campus this year against overcrowding and a perceived decline in academic standards, and last April a group of staff issued a statement of no confidence in management.

Staff this week queried why the college had decided to pay €20,000 to join the employers group Ibec, citing it as an example of skewed priorities.

Change and transition

In a statement, the college said it had previously been a member of Ibec and had rejoined recently “in order to facilitate and assist its very small HR unit in the negotiation and resolution of any HR issues emerging in this period of change and transition, in the sector, as well as the college, and to avoid any legal processes which might otherwise be involved.

“The figure referred to is the subscription for an organisation of NCAD’s size.”

Other ministerial appointees named Tuesday are: Prof Mark Rogers, deputy president of UCD which is engaged in a strategic partnership with NCAD; Mary Dorgan, former assistant chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority; corporate expert Karen Furlong who has managed companies through new Central Bank fitness and probity regulations; Ian Power, executive director of youth information website SpunOut.ie; and artist and painter Blaise Smith, and a graduate of NCAD.

All had submitted expressions of interest for the board following a public advertisement posted under new public appointments procedures.

The six appointees will join director Prof Declan McGonagle on the board, along with two appointees of the academic staff – Oliver Whelan and Rachel Tuffy, and two student nominees Rian Coulter and Adrienne Eacrett. A new chair of the board will be elected at its first meeting.