Dean of the School of Film/Video

The Organization

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts or the Institute)

School of Film/Video

The School of Film/Video is best described as a dynamic laboratory seeking to create new forms of cinematic conception, production, and exhibition. The School fosters an expansive and unparalleled range of film and media production and students work in all modes of animated and live action moving image, from dramatic narrative to experimental and abstract work; essayistic, socio-political, and observational documentary projects in live-action, animation, installation, and hybrid forms; and poetic, lyrical, structural, and other modes of experimentation with the materials and forms of the moving image.

The School of Film/Video works to develop and cultivate the talent and skill of student film- and video-makers through the care and instruction of a committed faculty and staff. It provides rigorous, varied, and visionary training that is qualitatively different from conventional film schools. In all of its four programs, students are asked to push the boundaries of media, deeply investigate different traditions and practices, and embrace creative risks in their work. The School’s vibrant combination of offerings equips students with the fluency to work across boundaries, expand their artistic and cultural horizons, and develop a global creative and critical vision. The result aims to produce graduates who are empowered as complete makers. The School’s support of a recognized faculty of innovators invested in the mentorship of students is situated within CalArts’ multidisciplinary arts environment. The result is a highly individualized experience and path through the curriculum, which is grounded in the mentor-based model of the School. Students receive training to develop their individual voices as makers within a complex understanding of various film and art histories, and technical processes within a broad concept of cinema, moving image, and making. The School works for students to understand a broad variety of career paths within the world of film/video and sound/image making and also develop their own sustainable processes within those potentials. As a result, the alumni of the School of Film/Video have distinguished themselves in every area of independent media art making and commercial filmmaking. Their work is exhibited widely at major festivals and museums around the world and alumni are active innovators in the film, television, and animation industries. The School of Film/Video is committed to providing students with a wide range of tools to fulfill their creative visions and, building on its long history of innovation, the School continues to expand its curriculum to embrace the potentials of emerging technologies.

The School of Film/Video serves over 400 students (more than one quarter of CalArts’ total enrollment); currently there are 292 undergraduates and 137 graduate students (2019/20). With more than 100 full- and part-time faculty members teaching across multiple programs and specializations, the School of Film/Video houses four programs, each of which has a long and distinguished impact within the culture of film art, experimental media, and animation. Both animation programs have produced alumni who have made major contributions to their field and both are preeminent in animation internationally. Character Animation (BFA only) is a world-renowned program that sends highly creative and well-prepared students into the animation industry. The Character Animation program provides artistic and technical training to help each student develop as a fully-fledged animation artist within both the traditional and computer graphic animation environments. Experimental Animation (BFA and MFA) was one of the first programs of its kind in the U.S. and offers a framework through which students can explore, develop, and refine intellectually demanding and aesthetically progressive concepts and professional practices in their personal cinematic art-making. The impact of these two programs on the field of animation has been paramount; together they have defined the parameters and potentials of the animation form. The two live action programs are similarly exceptional and have made significant contributions in both the world of independent film and in fine art. The Program in Film and Video (BFA and MFA) encourages students who use film and video as media for personal expression and exploration while developing their practices, primarily in a workshop setting. Its students are exposed to a range of film art forms including experimental film, film essay, documentary, installation, and emerging forms. The curriculum is well known for its continuing commitment to 16mm production and material processes. The Film Directing program (MFA only) focuses on developing the student’s individual voice within a broad spectrum of narrative filmmaking in the context of multiple film histories. The newest of the four programs, its graduates have begun to assert themselves as major voices in independent cinema in the U.S. and abroad. Each of the four programs relies on the development of personal expression within the context of multiple image and sound practices and histories, and provides each student with a unique and individualized pathway through the curriculum. Interdisciplinarity is actively encouraged. Students are additionally engaged and inspired through the School’s robust visiting artist program. 

CalArts, and the School of Film/Video in particular, proudly identifies as a community of artists and students’ learning occurs within that pedagogical framework. Given more creative freedom than at traditional art and film schools and encouraged to take risks while discovering and cultivating their own artistic voices, CalArts students are self-motivated, passionate, and deeply committed to their work. Students are accepted primarily based upon their artistic potential; much of the teaching occurs within the context of the student’s own body of work and students are expected to make work throughout their time at the School. Students and faculty add to a rich legacy as they put forward their original work with the daring independence and insight that are the hallmarks of the School. In the most recent list of the world’s top 25 film schools compiled by The Hollywood Reporter, CalArts’ School of Film/Video ranked in the top ten of those schools. As a leading film school, the School of Film/Video regularly competes for students with many older, more richly endowed schools like the University of Southern California, New York University, and Columbia University.

The School of Film/Video provides a number of exhibition resources to its students within the Los Angeles community. Each spring, the School holds the Bijou Festival and several showcase screenings regularly attended by producers and film, television, and animation professionals to publicly present selected student works. Films and videos are shown at CalArts’ Bijou Theater, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), and private screening facilities in Los Angeles. CalArts students can also teach K-12 students in the greater Los Angeles area through the Institute’s Community Arts Partnership program. The School of Film/Video also helps to arrange the presentation of selected student works at national and international venues, which in recent years have included the Sundance, New York, Berlin, Vienna, Venice, and other major festivals, as well as museums such as The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Pompidou Center in Paris. The School has several ongoing internship programs involving key film production and post-production companies in Los Angeles. The School of Film/Video provides the programming for REDCAT’s film series, which includes in-person presentations by acclaimed film, video, and animation artists from around the globe, as well as short festivals to cover specific topics in independent film, explore new currents in world cinema, and survey work by individual filmmakers.

For more information about CalArts’ School of Film/Video, please visit the website:

California Institute of the Arts

As the first higher education institution in the nation to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in the visual and performing arts, CalArts is in the top tier of highly competitive art schools. Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, CalArts emerged during this decade with a bold new paradigm for arts education that promised the freedom to create with boundless imagination, unfettered by conventional expectations. Offering a curriculum that is at once imaginative and rigorous, CalArts continues to distinguish itself as a pioneer in arts education, nurturing and respecting students as artists, offering remarkable opportunities for interchange with faculty across disciplines, and encouraging students to cross-pollinate and inspire each other.

CalArts offers its educational program to student artists through six primary divisions: the School of Art, the School of Critical Studies, the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, the Herb Alpert School of Music, the School of Film/Video, and the School of Theater. This year, in the sole art school category, U.S. News & World Report named the CalArts MFA Program in Art in its Top 10 ranking. Animation Career Review named CalArts Animation Programs #1 nationally in its most recent review. The Hollywood Reporter has ranked CalArts among the top 10 film schools, top 10 music schools, and top 15 drama schools in the world.

Located on a campus 25 miles north of Los Angeles in the Santa Clarita Valley, CalArts has supported the emergence of several movements in contemporary arts, with its prominent graduates fanning out internationally in every major arts arena. In addition to the main campus, CalArts operates the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, an interdisciplinary contemporary arts center for innovative performance and exhibition in downtown Los Angeles. The Institute is recognized for its Community Arts Partnership (CAP) program, a co-curricular program that offers free after-school and school-based arts programs for youth between the ages of six and 18 in every discipline taught at CalArts. Programs are offered at public schools, community centers and social service agencies in the greater Los Angeles area. With classes led by a teaching corps of CalArts faculty, alumni, and student instructors, CAP has served as a model for other arts education organizations locally and nationally, receiving numerous honors. 

CalArts currently enrolls 1,515 students: 1,019 undergraduates and 496 graduate students. An extraordinary feature of CalArts’ pedagogical model is that students are treated as artists from the day they arrive. Under the guidance of a gifted and experienced faculty, who themselves are accomplished practicing artists, students are offered a highly personalized experience. It is common for students to engage with faculty-artists on an individual basis, performing and collaborating together. The faculty-to-student ratio varies by program, but the average is just under 1:7. Instruction by the faculty and visiting professional artists fosters independent artistic work, values collegial relationships over hierarchies, and encourages continuous cross-pollination among the branches of the arts. CalArts does not have tenured faculty lines. Faculty members are intellectually and artistically professionally active in their disciplines of expertise and have been recognized for their achievements with national and international awards for pedagogy, scholarship, and creative work.

Students are exceptionally diverse, hailing from across the United States and from 52 countries. Female students currently make up 54% of the student body, students of color represent 42% of the population, and 27% of the student body are international students. The Institute is also highly selective relative to many arts institutions, with a 31% acceptance rate. Tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year is $50,850; approximately 95% of students receive institutionally awarded financial aid.

The Institute has experienced steady growth; its operating budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year was more than $67 million. Approximately 75% of the budget is generated by tuition and fees, with the rest coming from donations, investment earnings, and other miscellaneous revenue sources. The Institute’s endowment has grown exponentially to more than $173 million as of July 2018. There is an active focus on diversifying and strengthening the revenue streams for the Institute, including significant growth to the endowment.

For more information about CalArts, please visit the website:

Qualifications and Candidate Profile

California Institute of the Arts seeks a visionary and innovative leader to be the next Dean of the School of Film/Video to build upon its existing strengths in preparing global artistic citizens and bolster the School’s national and international reputation. The School of Film/Video is committed to providing groundbreaking leadership as an educator of filmmakers and animators and to expanding its role as a preeminent cultural and educational resource for the Institute and the arts community. Programs emphasize generative, diverse, flexible, and holistic creative practices throughout the School’s artistic, educational, and professional activities.

The Dean will assume primary responsibility for the academic programs of the School of Film/Video, ensuring an environment in which meaningful instruction, research, creativity, and service can thrive. The Dean will represent and participate in the School’s vibrant community of artists as they help define film/video education, creation, collaboration, and scholarship. An advocate for the School, the Dean will have an opportunity to champion new ways of learning and training for developing artists whose chosen medium is the moving image. In addition, the Dean ensures that the School is an essential contributor to the betterment of the entire Institute by its integration with, and contributions to, programs and initiatives that further the unique community of artists that is CalArts. The search committee, on behalf of the broader CalArts community, is looking for a uniquely qualified leader with the following well-defined attributes. 

We seek:

  • A creative thinker who has deep experience in the field of film/animation/moving image and appreciates a multiplicity of aesthetics. This person should have broad knowledge of the creative, technical, and cultural histories of film and video and be someone with an awareness of what it means to make moving image work. If not an artist themselves, the successful candidate will be someone with a keen awareness of what it takes to create.
  • A collaborator who can bring ideas for improvement and the vision for innovation within a context of cooperation and dialogue. This facilitator will foster an educational community defined by respect. CalArts, and the School of Film/Video in particular, has a strong commitment to shared governance and transparency; the committee is interested in candidates with a leadership style that demonstrates the interpersonal skills necessary for fostering community and cohesion.
  • An advocate who has an authentic interest, curiosity, and enthusiasm for the work the School produces, and who is able to support the activity of the faculty, students, and staff. While we are very interested in a candidate who has a complex vision of film and moving image cultures, as well as a nuanced understanding of higher education, we do not look for someone with a preconceived vision of film and video education they wish to impose upon the School.
  • Someone who has regard for the identities of the four individual programs and has a genuine interest in the institutional histories of each one. This administrator will also be someone who grasps the distinctions between the two animation programs and the two live action programs, recognizing that each is a different program with a specific identity and history, and that each has had a distinct impact upon film and film history.
  • A champion for the continuing advancement of an increasingly diverse, equitable, and inclusive student, staff, and faculty community. CalArts has set Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a top priority and the new Dean should facilitate that goal within curriculum, hiring, and all aspects of their work. The successful candidate will also have experience with and be prepared to oversee an internationally diverse student base.
  • An academic partner who will be faculty-friendly and support a faculty-led, program-based curriculum; who will uplift the role and voice of faculty in recruitment; and who will support innovative faculty development. This person will be an unwavering advocate for the School of Film/Video as a whole and partner with the Provost to promote the School’s pedagogy and curriculum.
  • A cooperative leader who can foster a curriculum that provides the critical education necessary for a multiplicity of post graduate experiences.
  • An educator/teacher that is deeply invested in the outcome of the student experience. The Dean will be expected to take a direct teaching and mentorship role and must have the ability to relate to and compassionately interact with a diverse and ever shifting student population.
  • An educator who has a knowledge of current and emerging technology and the creative vision to imagine, support, and promote technological innovations. The Dean should be supportive of ongoing training for faculty and staff, and nurture their continued engagement with new technologies.
  • The Dean will oversee the largest of the six schools at CalArts and should be able to collaborate with the other deans and cooperate with the Provost around institutional initiatives and shared budget interests.
  • A fundraiser who can partner with CalArts’ Advancement office and garner external partnerships and support for each program. Critical within this is the ability to work with program directors and faculty to create a compelling narrative to support each program and communicate those identities to the administration, funders, and the world.
  • Someone who can foster and further the ties CalArts has with the industry and studios to continue expanding those relationships to create opportunities for students and alumni.
  • A person with the ability to work productively with the Director of Operations and the Director of Technology to equitably coordinate a significant administrative and technical staff. The Dean will work closely with the School’s administrative committee, which is representational of the faculty and staff and includes the four program directors, the associate and assistant deans, the Director of Operations, and the Director of Technology.
  • They should have adept management skills, including a clear communication style, the ability to make difficult decisions for the good of the School and the Institute, and strong interpersonal skills.
  • Someone with experience in higher education leadership and demonstrable expertise as an administrator of a school or arts organization. This creative thinker will have familiarity with private arts schools and their structures while understanding CalArts’ relationship to external, competing schools.
  • Like many in higher education, CalArts is in the midst of contemplating the challenges that the cost of an arts education presents to its students. The candidate should be proactive in working towards debt reduction and fiscal responsibility while preserving the unique pedagogy that has made the School what it is. They should have experience creating budgets and the ability to work cooperatively with the School’s administrative and technical staff and the Provost to support each of the programs, balance their needs, and advance the curriculum holistically.
  • The unique culture of CalArts dictates that the successful candidate will have a long-term approach to their work and be willing to commit to this role for a meaningful period of time.

Key Relationships 

Working with President Ravi Rajan, Provost Dr. Tracie Costantino, other academic deans, and members of the Institute community, the Dean of the School of Film/Video will help define, develop, and disseminate CalArts’ core mission and values as a model for all arts education. CalArts stands as a beacon of hope and change within a system of higher education in, of, and for the arts. Its commitment and proven adherence to nurturing and exploring the artistic process, and its concomitant pedagogy rooted in intense mentorship causes it to stand out—not only to provide a top-quality education to its students, but also to serve as a global model for others to study and emulate. The Institute is poised to expand its reach, refine its core mission, and address the many cross currents in the contemporary arts worlds. Toward that end, a new institutional Strategic Plan, the end result of a two-year Strategic Visioning Project, will be introduced in the spring of 2020.

Reporting to the Provost and serving on the Deans’ Council, the Dean oversees more than 100 faculty colleagues (44 regular faculty, 7 full-time special faculty, and 60 part-time special faculty) and accomplishes the School’s strategic priorities with the help of an Assistant Dean of the School of Film/Video, an Associate Dean for External and Student Affairs, and an Admissions Counselor. Additionally, the Dean oversees a solid administrative support team through eight direct reports: the Assistant Dean of the School of Film/Video, the Associate Dean for External and Student Affairs, a Director of Operations, a Director of Technology, and the directors of the academic programs in Film Directing, the Program in Film and Video, Experimental Animation, and Character Animation. This institutional leader will collaborate with staff, faculty, and administrators throughout CalArts to promote student-centered outcomes, student well-being, program excellence, and the continual discovery of novel paths that encourage student creativity and expression.

Essential Functions and Representative Duties

The Dean is a member of the Institute faculty and, as such, is expected to teach periodically, pursue professional/scholarly/artistic practice, and perform institutional service. In order to provide required leadership in the School, the Dean is expected to maintain an appropriate level of professional achievement and knowledge of the field. The Dean’s appointment is annual, evaluated, and recommended each year by the Provost to the President and ratified by the Board of Trustees. The work period for the Dean extends over the twelve-month duration of the fiscal year with time away for professional/ scholarly/artistic practice to be approved in consultation with the Provost.

Essential functions and representative duties are as follows:

Curricular and Programmatic

  • Effective administration of artistic and academic programs within the School of Film/Video.
  • In collaboration with program directors and program faculty, provide oversight for development of new programs and revision of existing programs in relation to contemporary needs in the field.
  • Working with the Office of the Provost, facilitate periodic academic program review(s).
  • Provide oversight for assessment of learning goals and student learning outcomes, ensuring timely submission of assessment reports. In collaboration with program faculty, regularly evaluate the learning goals within each program of the School, for both the undergraduate and graduate students. Oversee and facilitate faculty revising the curriculum to meet those goals.
  • In collaboration with School faculty, establish the standards for advancement to degree candidacy in accordance with institutional policies.
  • Steward an effective mentoring system, providing oversight of faculty mentoring loads and timely and through submission of mentoring reports, mid-residency and graduation reviews, grades, and other student assessments that affect progress toward degree.
  • Model effective resolution of student concerns, with attention to fostering a positive student experience.

Faculty Affairs

  • Responsible for the administration of faculty performance reviews and faculty contract and merit recommendations to the Provost.
  • Responsible for effective management of faculty recruitment, ensuring processes as specified in the Faculty Handbook are followed.
  • Provide oversight of faculty workload, including course assignments and mentoring loads, all subject to the approval of the Provost and the President.
  • Ensure timely administration, review, and retention of student course evaluations.
  • Facilitate faculty development opportunities and generally promote the success and advancement of CalArts faculty.

External Engagement

  • Represent the School and its programs at donor cultivation events and related high-visibility outreach events.
  • Participate in national, state, and regional professional organizations and activities to maintain and expand the School’s external presence.
  • Work collaboratively with the President and the Office of Advancement to help direct and enhance fundraising efforts to support all aspects of the School.
  • Pursue opportunities to promote the work of the School—the accomplishments of faculty, alumni, and students in the larger community of which the School is a part.

Administration and Operations

  • In consultation with the Provost and President, the Dean will plan, organize and direct the operation and activities of the School.
  • Develop and lead an effective organizational structure for the School in alignment with institutional shared governance structures.
  • Manage, allocate, and ensure a balanced annual School budget. The Dean will maximize existing resources, while working to develop a long-range strategic plan for the School.
  • Oversee proper management, maintenance, and safety procedures for physical and technology resources.
  • Actively foster diverse faculty, staff, and student populations.
  • Supervise and conduct annual performance reviews for staff.
  • Participate with the Institute’s administration in the design and implementation of long-range plans.
  • Supervise the implementation of financial aid policies; working with the Provost and the Office of Admissions & Enrollment, establish enrollment projections, effective recruitment strategies, and help develop admissions policies.
  • In collaboration with the Office of the Provost, oversee the School’s national accreditation and participate in institutional regional accreditation (WASC).
  • Conduct and attend a variety of meetings, including Deans’ Council, faculty/staff meetings and committee meetings as assigned.

Equity and Diversity

California Institute of the Arts seeks to employ artists and educators who can engage the Institute’s diverse communities of learners at the highest levels of artistic endeavor. The ideal candidate possesses a demonstrated worldview that supports teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students of varied backgrounds, capabilities, perspectives, social identities, and gender expressions. CalArts is an equal opportunity employer.


The successful candidate will hold an undergraduate degree; a terminal degree in a relevant field or combination of education and professional accomplishment is preferred. 


Inquiries, nominations and applications are invited. A review of applications will begin immediately, and will continue until the position is filled. For fullest consideration, applicant materials should be received by January 20, 2020. Candidates should provide, as three separate documents, a curriculum vitae that reflects work experience from college forward; a letter of application that addresses the responsibilities and requirements described in this position specification; and the names and contact information of three references. References will not be contacted without prior knowledge and approval of candidates. These materials should be sent electronically via e-mail to Shelli Herman at


Shelli Herman and Associates, Inc. is assisting CalArts with this search. Confidential inquiries may be directed to:           

Shelli Herman, President