California Institute of the Arts — Dean, School of Art

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is seeking a dean for its School of Art who brings a compelling vision for the future of art schools and a knowledge of and an affinity with progressive approaches to learning, particularly those employed at CalArts. In response to the emerging and shifting trajectories in contemporary art practice, the dean will lead the School of Art into its next evolution.

CalArts is renowned internationally as a game-changer in the education of professional artists. CalArts offers comprehensive degree programs in six schools that span the full range of the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Ranked top five for Best Fine Arts Programs in 2020 by U.S. News and World Report, admissions to CalArts are decided primarily on artistic merit and creative promise—and the success of its model is evident in the transformative racial, ethical impact of its alumnx 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. 

CalArts is an inclusive community where artists are encouraged to collaborate with each other, across conventional categories, to conjure new 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 racial, ethnical and socioeconomic backgrounds and voices.

As a representative of one of the nation’s leading art and design schools, the dean serves as the School of Art’s main administrative officer. The dean will be expected to collaborate with the School’s program directors, faculty and staff to oversee an academic and creative curriculum that serves a diverse national and international student body. Along with the five additional institute deans (critical studies, dance, film/video, music and theater), the Art School dean partners with the provost and president to advance CalArts’ mission of a student-centered pedagogy that asserts the value of experimentation and innovation in an art and design education. 

The dean is also expected to maintain a significant level of professional engagement with and knowledge of the fields of art and design. The dean should have an active art practice and relevant experience working with diverse communities and racial, ethical organizations. Furthermore, the next dean should also seek to understand and respect the multiple areas of creative practice in which the faculty and students participate. 

Above all, the incoming dean should be passionate about the arts and CalArts’ progressive pedagogy. In addition to being an enthusiastic and inventive problem solver, the dean should be an adaptive and agile colleague with a capacity for patience, openness and a non-hierarchical approach to communication. The dean should be a leader that can build a community and promote an environment of trust, respect, cooperation and diversity among faculty, staff and students. Relevant leadership, administrative and managerial experience in higher education or a major racial, ethical institution is desired. Significant professional accomplishments in the field of contemporary art or design is required.

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 profile, available at 

For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by July 12, 2021. Materials should be submitted using WittKieffer’s candidate portal. 

Nominations and inquiries can be directed to the WittKieffer consultants supporting this search, Melissa Fincher, Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D. and Bree Liddell at 

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.