We’ll be updating this set of questions and answers on a regular basis as the merger process moves forward. If you have questions that aren’t addressed here, please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to address them as we’re able.
(Updated June 7)
1. About the Agreement
Who will lead the institution?
Dr. Harold Cook, is in place as interim Dean/Campus Principal until such time as a national search for this position is successfully concluded.
A new organizational chart will be outlined later in June for the senior leadership of the faculty and campus. It will show how the faculty links with Dalhousie operationally.
Has NSAC’s new name been decided?
The Minister of Agriculture and the president of Dalhousie agreed on June 1, 2012 on the new names for NSAC:
- the Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture
- the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus – or Dal-AC (physical campus)
The Dal-AC name was first proposed on March 23; feedback on the name choice has been largely positive. The Faculty of Agriculture name was recommended after consultation with NSAC and later approved by the Dalhousie Senate.
How will the faculty be governed?
The Faculty of Agriculture will be a faculty within Dalhousie, overseen by its Board of Governors. It will be entitled to representation on Dalhousie’s Senate, and the Senate will include one student whose academic studies are primarily located on the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus.
Dalhousie’s President will establish an Advisory Council which will provide advice to the Dean on the Faculty’s academic programs, applied research and services. Some members will be appointed by the Minister and will include representatives from the agricultural and agri-food industry.
A member of Nova Scotia’s agricultural and agri-food sector will be appointed to Dalhousie’s Board of Governors.
What will the transition process look like?
The Department of Agriculture, NSAC, and Dalhousie University will collaborate on the transition process to September 1, focusing on administrative transition issues.
Legal and other paperwork will give effect to the merger on September 1. Legislation was introduced on May 8, 2012 to give force to the administrative changes such as the transfer of property. The NSAC Act of 2008 will be repealed.
Dalhousie and NSAC staff will work closely to develop the opportunities presented by the merger for many years to come, based on principles agreed to during the merger process.
Why did the merger happen?
The idea to make NSAC more independent goes back many years, if not decades.
NSAC is a post-secondary institution, and everyone agrees it was not well suited to its current situation as a division of a government department.
The merger concept is consistent with Dr. Tim O’Neill’s recommendation in the Report on the University System in Nova Scotia (September, 2010): “Consider integrating Nova Scotia Agricultural College into Dalhousie University as the college ceases as a government entity.”
Dalhousie and NSAC have had a close academic relationship for many years. NSAC degrees are jointly awarded by Dalhousie and NSAC is represented on the Dalhousie Senate.
What will happen to the NSAC Foundation?
As outlined in the legislation, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College Foundation will be dissolved and its property will become part of the Dalhousie University Foundation. Dalhousie will continue to honour the terms of all current and future gifts to NSAC or the Faculty of Agriculture.
What will happen to NSAC employees?
Designated employees will be officially employed by the merged university on Sept. 1, 2012. At that time, they will cease to be members of the civil service.
Employees working exclusively for NSAC will be designated to work at Dalhousie. Designation letters confirming this will be sent sometime in the next two months to unionized employees, excluded employees, and some employees of other departments who have been working at NSAC.
What happens to excluded employees?
Designated Employees who are not members of a bargaining unit will be offered employment with Dalhousie, with
- no reduction in their present salary
- continued participation in the Public Service Superannuation Plan
- continued entitlement to a Public Service Award on retirement
- insured and other benefits on the same terms as other Dalhousie employees excluded from bargaining units
- recognition of years of service as members of the Provincial Civil Service
- no reduction in vacation entitlement.
Do employees get to take their service with them?
Yes. Continuity of employees’ service will not be broken by the transfer. Past service in the government will be recognized by the merged university.
What happens to the collective agreements?
On Sept. 1, 2012, Dalhousie will be bound by the collective agreements in place at the time of transition. This process is governed by section 31 of the Trade Union Act.
Where notice to commence bargaining has been given in relation to a collective agreement prior to Sept. 1, 2012, Dalhousie will be the employer for the purposes of bargaining and signing a collective agreement.
In practical terms, this means that employees will be covered by terms of the existing collective agreements and will negotiate new contracts, through their union, with Dalhousie as their new employer.
Employees will be able to raise any concerns, through their union, as the new collective bargaining process unfolds.
It should be noted that the collective bargaining process has not started, and the university does not have a formal position on any aspect of this negotiation.
How can we be sure that employee insured benefits will continue if they are not in legislation?
Dalhousie is obliged – by legislation and the merger agreement — to honour all elements of the current collective agreements.
This means that existing benefits will continue unchanged as employees move to Dalhousie. They can only be changed when employees, through their union, negotiate new ones.
The exception, as specified in the agreement, is that excluded employees will participate in Dalhousie’s insured benefit plans.
What are the pension arrangements for employees moving to Dalhousie?
Designated employees will continue to be members of the Public Service Superannuation Plan. Service in the employment of the government and the merged university will be counted toward their pensions.
The only difference is that Dalhousie has opted out of the Supplementary Employment Retirees Plan (SERP) under the Public Service Superannuation Plan Act and regulations. As indicated in the NSAC-Dalhousie merger legislation, this policy decision extends to NSAC employees moving to Dalhousie.
What about the Public Service Award?
The Civil Service Master Agreement states that members of the Civil Service who are retiring under the PSSA are granted a Public Service Award equal to one week’s pay for each year of full-time service to a maximum of 26 years.
Under the merger agreement, NSAC employees will be entitled to an amount equivalent to the PSA upon retirement from Dalhousie, assuming they continue to meet provincial eligibility criteria.
If the public service award no longer forms part of a collective agreement, NSAC employees will receive a public service award calculated up to the date the collective agreement was concluded.
How often will employees be paid?
We are making arrangements to move employee records to the Dalhousie payroll system. More information will be available on that over the summer.
When will the campus start using Dalhousie processes, policies, etc.?
That will be a key part of the implementation process over the summer. Stay tuned for more information and training.
Some of those kinds of changes will take place in the short term, and others will take longer to implement.
We will have staff working on change management activities.
What if I have questions about benefits with Dalhousie?
NSAC employees are invited to contact Joni Brown (email@example.com or 902-494-1122). Pension and public service award questions should continue to be directed to the Public Service Commission.
3. Students and Programs
What does this merger mean for students?
Effective Sept. 1, 2012, all students registered at NSAC will become Dalhousie students. All students will be entitled to continue in the program of study in which they were registered as of Sept. 1, 2012.
The NSAC 2012-13 course calendar will continue to be in effect. Where there are gaps in the NSAC calendar, the applicable Dalhousie 2012-13 calendar will apply, with necessary changes in point of detail.
All degrees, diplomas or certificates awarded after Sept. 1 will be granted by Dalhousie. Express recognition of NSAC will appear on parchments or certificates issued to all students who started their studies at NSAC.
Are there any plans for program or course changes for students?
As indicated, the course calendar has been set for fall 2012.
No decisions have been made on future program changes. There is a lot for NSAC and Dalhousie to consider and explore together.
Dalhousie and NSAC academic programs are already closely linked. Together, there is potential to expand and enhance their academic offerings – which will be of great interest to students and faculty from Nova Scotia and around the world.
Will NSAC continue to meet its scholarship commitments?
Yes, scholarship commitments will be met.
What does this mean for NSAC Athletics?
The Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association has committed in principle to the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus’ eligibility to participate in its organization. This means that students at the Dal-AC will continue to participate in the college league as it has in the past, and all sports teams in place last year will continue this fall.
What is planned for student governance?
Dalhousie Student Union is a separate legal entity with exclusive responsibility for student government at Dalhousie.
The DSU has worked out an arrangement to ensure that the students on the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus have an opportunity to actively participate in and to organize student events and activities.
Will tuition go up?
Under the MOU, all Nova Scotia post-secondary institutions may choose to increase tuitions this year as a way to cover the cost of good quality educational programs for students.
This year, government capped tuition increases to 3 per cent to ensure post-secondary education continues to be affordable.
4. External relations
What will happen to donations to NSAC now in the NSAC foundation?
The NSAC Foundation will be terminated as of Sept. 1, 2012, and, Dalhousie will manage all former NSAC Foundation assets and liabilities .
Donations made to NSAC before or after Sept. 1 will be specifically earmarked for the faculty and campus, according to the terms of the gift.
How will NSAC fundraising work in future?
Dalhousie will work with the NSAC Alumni Association in the same manner that it works with other alumni groups to engage current and future NSAC alumni.
Dalhousie will initiate a process to develop a fund-raising campaign to support the strategic priorities of the Faculty of Agriculture and the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus. The process will consider the operations, programs, activities and capital needs of the faculty and the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus.
5. Economic and Industry concerns
How will a merger affect the Truro/Colchester area?
NSAC plays an important role in promoting the agriculture sector as an engine of economic growth for Nova Scotia, as outlined in the government’s strategy for the sector: Homegrown Success. Dalhousie’s participation will augment this role.
This is a positive development for Truro/Colchester, potentially opening up new opportunities for the community. This process is based on the premise that there will continue to be a strong agricultural academic program and research and development capacity in Bible Hill and Truro.
This is also a positive for the Valley and other areas, where the college has close connections with the farming community as well as research facilities.
Will membership in the Autopact be affected by the merger?
No, current membership in the Autopact will not be affected.