Sudden changes at Algonquin College

By Mike Valiquette

This past Thursday afternoon, October 7th, Neil Hunter and Paul West, the co-coordinators of the Algonquin College Animation Program, were fired from their position.  There’s been no official statement, but further information should be available regarding the changes in the coming week.

The timing of this move seems really odd, particularly with the Animation Festival looming so close on the calendar.  Word of the change is slowly reaching the staff, and members of the Ottawa animation community have been downright shocked and are expressing concern for the program.  Under Neil and Paul, and for a few years, Derek Bond, the program has really developed into what is almost a world-class school.

I’ll keep you posted.

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29 Responses to “Sudden changes at Algonquin College”

  1. Dan C.

    As a current 3rd year student in the animation program at Algonquin, Saying that I’m shocked would be a hell of an understatement. What gives!!

  2. Mark C.

    This is crazy news. Neil and Paul elevated the level of that program so much, they did a great job. Best of luck to both of them and best of luck to current and future Algonquin animation students.

  3. Jessie Moore

    Holy moly, this is quite the shocker. Do you know if they’re still teaching, or have they been removed from the program completely?

  4. KateyRdC

    I thought Paul had just become a coordinator of the program?? I hope the shock (and hopefully outrage!) prompts whoever made the decision to rethink it!

  5. Megan

    What!? This is an outrage! Why did this happen??

  6. Lozart

    Good. I dunno about Paul but Neil was a (edited by admin for pushing my tolerance for anonymous flaming) that chooses who to pass depending how much they appeal to him.

  7. Kelseigh

    As a second year student in the program, this leaves me extremely unsettled. What will this mean for my education at the school, and for those around me?

    Sadly, corporate decisions like this are rarely explained to the public. So I don’t know what we’ll be able to find out.

  8. Rebecca David

    This is an incredibly sudden decision that has all the current animation students worried. We had no indication at all that this was going to happen.

  9. Sharon C

    Just observing as an outsider. I’m curious at the “shocked” and “hope they rethink this” comments. In my experience people don’t get fired out of the blue, especially at academic institutions, and especially when the school year has already commenced. Obviously they did something pretty severe to warrant such action. Or perhaps a number of smaller infractions and this last was a tipping point. Who knows we can only guess till we get the details but I would guess, they weren’t fired at random. It just isn’t done.

    I’m curious to see the outcome or what went down exactly, but i’m sure if the Algonquin program is as claimed here ” almost world class” then surely the rest of the “almost world class” staff will be able to carry the students through their academic year despite this dramatic change. (i’m not being sarcastic here..i realize air quotes come off that way. heh)

    Hopefully whatever problems that led to their firing will be resolved and the program will learn and improve because of it. I guess as a former student of a few different colleges myself I’m just saying don’t panic kids. It’ll work out and i’m sure for the best. Or maybe just an interesting new direction. Who knows. (good luck to all of you studying. It’s a tough field. Keep workin’ hard on your own thing and learning from your friends and everything you can get your hands on and you’ll be fine)

  10. This is odd, no warning, seemingly out of the blue. As Mike said, Algonquin Animation has become a World Class Program; thanks to great teachers and lead by great co-ordinators. Let’s hope everything surfaces so we know what’s really going on.
    Thanks Mike

  11. Jason R

    Wow, this is crazy, I hope they just made a mistake. I wonder what will happen to the course?

  12. Em

    I know first hand how hard these guys work and how much time and effort they have put in with their peers to make the program the best that it can be and to produce high quality, hireable, successful graduates. They were absolutely fired out of the blue. This decision was made with zero foresight or consideration for the students or the local industry that this high quality program feeds into. If something dramatic and awful happened to cause this, I will eat my own arms. It’s a classic case of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    Much love and support to Paul & Neil.

  13. D

    Really people I honestly do not know why everyone is so surprised. After what happened last year it was about time someone starts getting things moving over there. Let’s just hope they put someone more qualify.

  14. Lee

    I can only think it does not reflect on either Neil’s or Paul’s experience but the recent move for various institutions/corporations dropping full time staff for inexperienced part timers with no benefits?

  15. Becca

    What the hell, Gonq.

  16. Kelseigh

    A question that occurs to me is, where does the Union they belong to come into it? Surely there are procedures to be followed, it’s very hard to just suddenly fire someone.

  17. LL

    What were they thinking??? They are going to ruin a great program and more than likely hire someone second rate for what? To save a few bucks or appease some sour grapes hack. Big mistake.

  18. Alanna

    As a student who admires these teachers, to hear this is devastating. There’s still a part of me praying that this is just a joke. There’s a reason this program is awesome, excelent teachers such as Paul and Neil!

  19. Kelsiegh has a point – both of those guys had been there for +10 years, they should be in the union – where’s their protection?

  20. I would like to cover this for the Algonquin Times, and aside from the regular channels of admiistration and official statements, I would love to get student input so I can wrap my head properly around the impact these men had.

    Follow the link from my name to contact information from my blog, stop by the Times office and leave me a note, or search me in the algonquin live email address book peev0024


  21. I hate when politics get in the way of teaching art. The students are the most important concern for Algonquin as of Tuesday morning. They’ve paid big money for top talent, supported by an exceptional administration to teach them and an institution hell bent on continuing to develop a world class animation program. Students should never accept anything less. Algonquin works for the students.

  22. Lee

    Hey Mike – Neil has been kind enough to answer some of my questions on his Facebook page.

  23. Sarah

    This is, needless to say, a complete shock! I knew there was some sort of meeting on Thursday, but I had no idea it’d be about something like this!

    Paul ultimately made my first year of animation what it was; absolutely amazing. I’m needing answers like crazy.

  24. Matt

    The second this happened the programs students should have been notified….we just got to spend a weekend wondering what the hell happened with no explanation. This matter concerns me greatly and the fact that the school couldn’t even issue a simple email since Thursday is really aggravating.

  25. Becca

    Still no new info on this, huh? I guess we’ll find out today.

  26. Nick Bradshaw

    Well…Would love to have some more information on this as well. As a former Alumni who graduated from this school, in a program designed by one of these two individuals, this is a little concerning. I recommend this program on a regular basis from young pups who contact me looking for some guidance and I cant honestly see myself recommending a program who would throw out two of it’s better resources…were they caught printing bogus money, keggers in the sound studio or endorsing those “Narsty” meatball subs from those vending machines in the quad? Better be something equally nefarious and justifiable, not the standard ” we’ve been looking at restructuring the program and their views skewed in differing blah blah blah so we kindly “asked” em to step aside after butting heads over students best interest…more blah blah ” your valuable coin is paying for this program kiddies…hope you’re being vigilant about your questions and satisfied with answers on who has your best interest at heart.

  27. OT


    This is shocking, downright disturbing actually.
    Usually so quick and sudden means politics – happened at Sheridan a number of years back from what I heard through the grapevine.

    The worst part is the effect on students/current staff. Anybody graduating, entering, within the current program is bound to be affect, one way or the other. Learning is tough enough, but nobody wants/needs this sort of ‘spin’ on events.


  28. From what I understood during a quick interview today, they are fully employed, still instructors, yet the job of coordinator has been shifted to two others within the animation program.

    As I am writing an article on this incident, I am still asking questions myself (if you have any info, please send me a note) but rest assured, they are still employed. That is from the school of media and design. I have not yet spoke with the instructors involved.

    Any current students that have had any statement from their professors, feel free to drop me a line.


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