NSAC, Dal formal merger pushed to Sept. 1

Provincial legislation formalizing the merger of Nova Scotia Agricultural College into Dalhousie University pushes the official merger date back to Sept. 1.

The new start date is about what the two schools expected when they announced merger talks in May last year, but tacks another two months onto the effective start date of July 1, which they forecast in late March this year.

The extension is meant "to allow sufficient time to finalize details of the formal agreement and engage the campus in transition preparations," the provincial government, which currently operates NSAC, said in a release Tuesday.

Truro-based NSAC’s faculty and staff, who were to be employees of a new Dal faculty of agriculture by July 1, will now officially become employees of the university on Sept. 1.

The new date, jointly agreed upon by the university and the province, provides a "more realistic timeframe" for the two schools to work on transition activities, deputy agriculture minister Paul LaFleche said in a separate statement Tuesday. "The July 1 date was always fairly aggressive."

The new legislation, introduced Tuesday, will make NSAC’s 300-odd faculty and staff members Dal employees under the terms of their existing collective agreements, but they will remain eligible for the province’s pension plan. It also grants Dalhousie legal access to required NSAC "information, contracts and assets."

The formal agreement, enabled through this legislation, also firms up details of the merger such as the transfer of land, buildings and equipment. The agreement will be made public before Sept. 1, the province said.

The legislation also gives authority for the formal merger agreement to be signed later this spring. That agreement will address "technical details not covered in the legislation, such as property, finances, employees, and academics and research."

The legislation also allows Dalhousie, through the new ag campus, to "continue to have access to dairy quota."

Passage of what’s been named the Dalhousie University-NSAC Merger Act is expected to take one to three weeks.

NSAC, whose current enrolment is about 1,000 students, has an operating budget of $33.5 million. The $17.1 million in provincial funding for NSAC will now go to Dal, as will $6.8 million in funding for NSAC programs through Dal’s memorandum of understanding with the provincial department of labour and advanced education.

The provincial agriculture department will also put up a one-time allocation of $7.5 million over three years for transition costs such as IT (information technology) conversion and "urgent" facility renewal projects.

The merger plan now also proposes that NSAC, informally dubbed "The AC," will be named the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, or "Dal-AC."

Related story:
Basics agreed to for NSAC merger into Dalhousie, March 28, 2012

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