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

May 15, 2013

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.