Students and staff at the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design are basking in some reflected glory after graduate John Kahrs received an Oscar for his animated short film, Paperman.

Kahrs graduated from NSCAD in 1990 and is now a key animator for Disney Pixar, having worked on films such as Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and Toy Story 2.

Students at the school say they are thrilled one of their own has won an Academy Award.

“There are eight or nine people in our class, so, to be actually even nominated is crazy, but to actually get an Oscar would be awesome,” says film student Kevin Kumar-Miser.

NSCAD faculty members are also proud of the former student.

“Students come here to explore art, as a whole question, and they move around quite a lot from medium to medium,” says Media Arts Chair David Clark.


Both students and teachers emphasize they don’t simply learn skills at NSCAD, because skills can become obsolete over time, they also teach critical thinking.

Kahr reflects the school’s philosophy of being multi-skilled. He not only wrote and directed Paperman; he also provided the sounds in the charming, wordless black-and-white film.

His award for Paperman comes at a time when the college is facing funding cuts that could threaten the school, as it struggles to partially integrate within Dalhousie University.

Nova Scotia Culture and Heritage Minister Leonard Preya says Kahr’s Oscar underlines the importance of keeping NSCAD alive. He also says work is being done to stabilize the school’s finances.

“They have also looked at their internal restructuring,” says Preya. “They’re doing some feasibility studies about potential partnerships.”

NSCAD celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2012 and serves about 1,000 students each year.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Ron Shaw