California Institute of the Arts - Vice President of Student Experience
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), located in Santa Clarita, 30 miles north of Los Angeles, is seeking a forward-thinking, strategic and collaborative leader to serve as vice president of student experience (VPSE). The VPSE is the Institute’s chief student affairs officer, charged with managing a vibrant student life program and providing dynamic and purposeful leadership to the CalArts community. The VPSE must be motivated by a deep commitment to the visual, performing, media and literary arts, as well as devoted to shared governance, inclusive excellence, student mental health and student success both inside and out of the classroom.
CalArts is renowned internationally as a game-changer in the education of professional artists. Founded by Walt Disney in 1961, CalArts offers comprehensive degree programs in six schools that span the full range of the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Admissions to CalArts are decided primarily on artistic merit and creative promise — and the success of its model is evident in the transformative cultural impact of its alumni over the past half-century. CalArts’ imaginative yet rigorous curriculum has been a pioneer in the world of arts education for decades, and the Institute continues to distinguish itself as a place that offers boundless freedom to create, unfettered by conventional expectations.
Walt Disney imagined CalArts as an all-inclusive multidisciplinary community, where artists can look outside their own métiers and collaborate with each other, across conventional categories, to conjure new forms and expressions. By breaking through artificial barriers, this ongoing exchange of ideas and methods opens up fresh perspectives, sparks out-of-the-box innovation and energizes the creative community as a whole. For this reason, CalArts has always thrived on the diversity of its artists — representing not only multiple forms and styles, but also the horizon-expanding mix of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and voices. The Institute has the distinction today as having the most diverse student body of all small private arts colleges.
The VPSE is the chief student affairs officer at CalArts, reporting directly to President Ravi S. Rajan and participating as a trusted advisor and strategic partner on the president’s cabinet. The leadership at CalArts prides itself on excellence balanced with approachability and open-mindedness. The president is on a first name basis with his entire team, makes mutual support of team members the highest priority and emphasizes respectful treatment to every individual at the Institute. The VPSE is responsible for the overarching vision and strategy of the student experience, which is primarily achieved by managing the processes and offices that support student experience and other student-facing aspects of institutional operations. CalArts is no ordinary institution, and it is imperative that the VPSE enters the role with a profound understanding of how arts education on the leading edge of innovation might function — and what support is needed for a culturally diverse, dynamic and talented international student body to thrive. CalArts is premised on artists creating new forms of artwork that are transformative in nature; the VPSE is tasked with finding ways to ensure that students are able to successfully pursue this kind of groundbreaking work while at CalArts.
This is an outstanding opportunity to join the leadership team of an artistic community dedicated to both excellence and experimentation. The Institute seeks an innovative, ambitious professional who will be connected and engaged with the CalArts student community and always prioritize the hearts and minds of the students first. The ideal candidate will not just maintain the status quo at CalArts; the new VPSE should be devoted to thinking strategically about how to build a better student experience system — and come prepared with the managerial and organizational expertise necessary to successfully implement strategic changes.
All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in the leadership profile and two to three samples of writing in various lengths and formats.
WittKieffer is assisting CalArts in this search. For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by as soon as possible.
Application materials should be submitted to WittKieffer’s candidate portal using the buttons below.
Nominations and inquiries can be directed to:
Kim Brettschneider and Mercedes Chacón Vance
CalArts recognizes diversity and inclusivity as fundamental to its community and integral to an arts education. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other protected characteristic as established by law. CalArts is an equal opportunity employer.