California Institute of the Arts — Vice President of Enrollment

CalArts is a multidisciplinary community of artists. Their ongoing educational endeavor is grounded in openness, experimentation, critical engagement and creative freedom. Through artistic practice, we transform ourselves, each other and the world.

~CalArts Mission

California Institute of the Arts is a highly regarded, nationally and internationally ranked independent arts institution offering undergraduate and graduate degrees through 70 programs across the arts. Located in the northern Los Angeles metro area, CalArts’ programs are optimized for a special kind of artist: one who goes beyond aesthetics and technique to ensure their practice engages with the world at large.

CalArts seeks an experienced Vice President of Enrollment with a sincere appreciation for the arts and an enthusiasm for collaboration in a community focused on artistic experimentation.  The Vice President of Enrollment will report to President Ravi S. Rajan and serve as the chief enrollment officer of the institution, with oversight of all enrollment — undergraduate, graduate, and international.  The Vice President of Enrollment will serve as a member of the President’s Advisory Group and is responsible for planning, leading, and executing a strategic enrollment plan to meet each school’s as well as the institute’s overall enrollment goals.  At the heart of their work, the successful candidate will serve as a collaborative partner to both the faculty of the Institute and to fellow members of senior leadership. They will come with a sincere focus on student success; experience that allows them to build on the institution’s deep commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion; and will provide mentorship and supervision to the admissions, financial aid, and international student teams in establishing best practices and innovative strategies appropriate for the uniqueness of the CalArts community.

Responsibilities, Duties and Priorities:

In their role as Vice President of Enrollment, the selected candidate will be responsible for the following duties and priorities:

  • Partner through effective communication and flexibility with members of faculty, deans, program directors, staff, and leadership to capture and articulate the unique culture and history of CalArts, the academic and artistic requirements of each program and the unique experience of a community designed to foster artistic practice and collaboration across historic media;
  • Possess an understanding of a complex and decentralized academic structure, governed by deliberation and constantly evolving; 
  • Create and advance a strategic enrollment strategy in order to meet goals of each academic program;
  • Seek to identify and expand to new domestic markets, enhance international markets, and increase potential partnerships, pipelines, and pathways for a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, transfer and international students; with program leadership develop and implement student enrollment goals to accomplish optimum enrollment levels of enrollment in size, quality, and diversity and matched to resources;
  • Oversee the welcoming of the nation’s first “Creative Arts Posse” through work with the Posse Foundation and the ongoing needs of this program;
  • Employ a culture of transparent and data-informed decision making in order to lead the Institute in developing and implementing a dynamic strategic enrollment plan; develop and analyze admissions and enrollment reports by program, major, métier, market, population, and country; and ensure that resources are used effectively;
  • Demonstrate the ability to build, enhance, and nurture relationships with colleagues across campus, especially faculty liaisons involved in recruitment, admissions, and scholarship processes;
  • Provide effective and motivational leadership of enrollment, admissions, and financial aid staff by building a cohesive team and fostering a stable and transparent environment supported by professional development;
  • Develop and maintain working cross-staff relationships between all enrollment areas and other key staff of the Institute, especially in Student Experience, Provost/Academic Affairs, Finance, and Advancement.
  • Implement and shape a newly configured, resourced, and streamlined organizational structure for the enrollment teams, including participating in the selection of a new director of admissions and new director of financial aid;
  • Possess expertise and knowledge of market demographics, demands, and trends in order to educate the community and create a culture of enrollment management, as well as serve as a partner and advisor to academic leaders shaping program development;
  • Collaborate with the Vice President for Marketing and Communications and other campus partners in identifying market segments and creating nuanced marketing strategies which address the specific needs of CalArts’ unique populations and programs;
  • Determine strategic use of financial assistance for the recruitment and retention of students; optimize the use of state, federal, donated, endowed, and institutional resources; and establish measurable improvement plans to ensure the continual increase in the strength and sustainability of Financial Aid programs; 
  • Ensure that monitoring systems are in place to track compliance with all federal, state, and key international country laws and regulations and ensure that all staff have the necessary training to comply with their relevant laws and regulations.
  • Initiate and lead an ongoing, ideally nationally recognized financial literacy program that serves all CalArts students – current and future;
  • Employ a customer service and compliant approach by establishing processes that ensure operations are flowing as seamlessly as possible and remain student centric;  
  • Promote and encourage professional development, as well as cross-training for all staff within the enrollment division;
  • Enhance a culture of student success and possess the ability to view varying pieces of the student life cycle, including alumni; collaborate with campus partners to develop programs that focus on student retention to meet the needs of students and continually improve the Institute’s retention rate; and
  • Ensure that the ongoing work of the enrollment areas is aligned with, and in support of, the goals and objectives in the 2020 Strategic Framework and the work of the IDEA Cooperative. Engage shared governance in the assessment and planning for this strategic work.

Qualifications, Abilities and Desired Characteristics:

It is expected that the Vice President of Enrollment will have earned a bachelor’s degree and possess at least ten years of demonstrated leadership success as an innovator in enrollment management areas, with the ability to manage operations and recruit students and staff in a complex and nuanced environment. Advanced degrees are preferred, with a concomitant reduction in relevant enrollment leadership experience to a minimum of eight years. In addition, the successful candidate will also possess most, if not all, the following abilities and characteristics:

  • Be well versed, knowledgeable, and sensitive to the recruitment needs of students across a broad, diverse, and full complement of arts programs including art and design, dance, film and animation, music, theater, and writing, on both the undergraduate and graduate (terminal) levels
  • Be authentically committed to the unique ideals of distinction and experimentation of the California Institute of the Arts; understand the specificity and nuance needed for such admissions in programs across all the arts;
  • Be a sophisticated, strategic professional who is able to apply a transparent and organized approach to any non-linear process;
  • Have expert facility with both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis and using these data to promote understanding and transparent decision making.
  • Possess emotional intelligence that fosters collaboration and support among campus constituents key to the development and actions of a successful strategic enrollment plan that maintains CalArts’ strong enrollments, celebrates innovation in the arts, and promotes long-term financial and cultural sustainability;
  • Employ a thoughtful and respectful approach that is responsive to the needs of individual programs; an ability to develop, implement, and subsequently revise comprehensive strategic enrollment and marketing plans that reflect the ongoing needs of each program and respond to environmental changes in student demographics;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to promote inclusion, diversity, equity, and access for students throughout their educational and professional careers;
  • Have the ability to effectively and authentically communicate with intentionality, engendering trust with colleagues across the Institution;
  • Naturally embody a high level of collaboration and teamwork; possess exceptional communication and presentation skills; and an interpersonal style that is confident, energetic, enthusiastic, fun, and patient.
  • Be well versed, knowledgeable and passionate about the value of an arts education and its role in promoting human imagination and transformation;
  • Possess expertise managing an integrated student-focused enrollment division that is results driven;
  • Have familiarity with a full complement of higher education practices in the awarding of merit and need-based financial aid to meet enrollment goals; experience evaluating the success of these tactics using data to promote understanding;
  • Bring a track record of having, building, and growing strong relationships with feeder high schools and colleges while conducting national and international recruitment campaigns; maintain high visibility with local, regional, and national professional associations; have a commitment to travel nationally and internationally to raise the visibility of the Institute; and
  • Demonstrate a track record of creativity and innovation in strategic planning and problem-solving and have a sophisticated understanding of integrated marketing in higher education and its impact on enrollment. 

CalArts

California Institute of the Arts is renowned internationally as a game-changer in the education of professional artists. The transformative cultural impact of its alumni over the past half-century shows why CalArts is the catalyst for fostering and launching creative talent unlike any other university, college, school, or arts conservatory.

Founded in 1961 by a merger led by Walt Disney of the Chouinard Art Institute and the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music, CalArts offers comprehensive degree programs across a full range of the visual, performing, media, design, and literary arts through six schools. Since its inception, admission to each of its selective programs has been decided not by standardized test scores and grade transcripts, but primarily through the assessment of artistic achievement and creative promise by members of the faculty who are experts in their disciplines. The result has increasingly meant that admission is offered to a group of students, the demographics of which closely matches that of greater Los Angeles, California, and the United States.

The CalArts learning experience stands apart from other schools as it strives to maintain an intimate, authentically creative environment that prioritizes individual mentorship and guidance. Every student is assigned a faculty mentor throughout their time at CalArts who advises them professionally and creatively and serves as a link to various arts industries. Since all faculty are working professional artists as well as educators, CalArts students have access to talented, notable artists, and the chance to build strong working relationships and connections that can last a lifetime.

Walt Disney imagined CalArts as an all-inclusive community, where artists can look outside historic métiers to collaborate with each other and conjure new expressions. Today, that vision persists, bringing together both a diverse and international student body to pursue the authentic and visionary artistic voice. By breaking through artificial barriers, this ongoing exchange of ideas and methods opens 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 socio-economic backgrounds and voices. Beyond its campus, the Institute also encompasses the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), an arts presenting center that is part of the Walt Disney Hall complex of the Los Angeles Music Center in downtown Los Angeles, and the Community Arts Partnership (CAP), a 30-year old youth arts education program delivered through partnerships with community organizations, public schools, local government, art industries, and philanthropic foundations throughout LA County.

Last year, in the sole fine arts category, US News & World Report named the CalArts MFA Program in its Top 5 ranking. Animation Career Review named CalArts Animation Programs #1 nationally in its most recent review. The Hollywood Reporter ranked CalArts among the top 10 film schools, top 25 music schools, and top 20 drama schools in the world.

CalArts is proud of its diverse student body and deeply committed to supporting the cultural and artistic aspirations of all its students. A commitment to increasing opportunities for underrepresented students and currently disenfranchised groups is necessary, as is the desire to work to support Institute goals of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) in an ongoing way. A quick look at the stories of alumni and current students, also known as CalArtians, is instructive in its breadth and depth of experience. 

Academics

CalArts’ artistic philosophy places an emphasis on the exploration of new paths beyond conventional boundaries and empowers students to define their own personal objectives. Given more creative freedom than traditional art schools and conservatories, CalArts encourages its community 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 on the basis of their artistic promise. They are treated as artists and expected to fully engage in the artistic process, sharing their artistic vision as a participant and unique artist from their first days as a CalArts student.  

CalArts offers its educational program to student artists through six schools: 

  • School of Art 
  • School of Critical Studies 
  • Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance 
  • Herb Alpert School of Music 
  • School of Film/Video 
  • School of Theater 

Students may pursue BFA and MFA degrees through programs in music, art, theater, dance, and film/video, an MFA program in creative writing, an MA program in aesthetics and politics, and a DMA performer-composer program in music. The Institute also offers a variety of undergraduate and advanced certificates; interschool degrees and double majors are available to a small number of advanced students. Students in all programs are required to take a series of liberal arts/general education classes through the School of Critical Studies, where they are encouraged to recognize the complexity of political, social, and aesthetic questions and respond to them with informed, independent judgment; all students are given the opportunity to take electives in other schools. The distribution of students across the schools are Film/Video (27%), Theater (23.6%), Art (21.9%), Music (19%), Dance (5.4%), and Critical Studies (3%).

CalArts’ 1,500 students are exceptionally diverse, more so than all other small arts colleges, coming from across the United States and from 48 countries. Female students currently make up 54% of the student body, students of color represent nearly half of the population, and international students represent 27% of the student body. The Institute is also highly selective relative to many arts institutions, with a 31% acceptance rate and a 43% yield overall. The first-year retention rate is 83.7%.

Facilities

CalArts’ campus consists of a single sprawling five-level, 500,000-square-foot building that houses all six schools as well as several additional auxiliary buildings. The main building was constructed in the early 1970s and retains much of its original character, though it has undergone various renovations over the years, including an extensive rebuilding following the Northridge earthquake of 1994. This main facility was originally imagined for a student body totaling hundreds less than where enrollment stood in 2019-20. The Institute has expanded to many steel buildings on its 60-acre campus to help manage the enrollment growth. The campus has engaged phase one of a capital facilities master plan, the first since its opening, to address facility issues through planning, renovation, and expansion. In addition, the Board authorized over $40 Million in bonds to be issued, a majority of which will enable capital facilities improvement, with additional funds for property acquisitions enabling progress on the strategic framework as well as the more rapid expansion of swing space and new facilities while the master plan is formed.

Students currently have options to live in on-campus housing in two separate units: Chouinard Hall, which houses approximately 340 undergraduate students, and Ahmanson Hall, which provides apartment-style housing for 99 third and fourth-year undergraduates as well as graduate students. CalArts has also recently signed partnerships with two local off-campus apartment complexes to offer blocks of CalArts’ managed apartments for graduate students and older undergraduates.

Among the facilities, the campus has numerous studios, production, and performance spaces, including the Walt Disney Modular Theatre. One of the newest academic buildings is an on-campus music pavilion known as “The Wild Beast,” a 3,200-square-foot structure used as a large classroom and combined indoor-outdoor performance venue, and the John Baldessari Studios, a space for MFA Art studios and instruction. In 2003, CalArts opened a downtown gallery and theater, the Roy & Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre (REDCAT), in the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is part of the county-owned Los Angeles Music Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Faculty and Governance

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. 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.

The faculty comprises 400 members, approximately 168 of whom are full-time. CalArts does not have tenured faculty lines. Faculty members are intellectually, artistically, and 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. The provost works in close consultation with the faculty, and faculty governance extends from a Faculty Senate and from that group, an elected Academic Council. Faculty and students are supported by 262 full- and part-time staff, many of whom are CalArts’ alumnx; some are artists in their own right, and many have undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines that complement the needs of the Institute. These staff members help maintain the rich Institute history and community that is CalArts.

The CalArts’ Board of Trustees has members composed of leaders in the arts industries, the foundation world, and civic engagement, and also includes a faculty, staff, student, and alumnx representative elected by each constituency. The Institute is known for the active participation by students, faculty, and staff in all matters of the Institute. Recently, a CalArts Assembly was formed that constitutes all members of the Institute faculty, staff, and students. From this, two new cross institute bodies were developed to formalize ongoing shared governance deliberation: the Assembly Budget Committee (ABC) and the Assembly Executive Committee. 

Location

Located 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, CalArts occupies 60 acres on hills overlooking the incorporated city of Santa Clarita, which encompasses the towns of Valencia, Newhall, Saugus, and Canyon Country.

The Santa Clarita Valley is surrounded by the Tehachapi Mountains to the north, the San Gabriels to the east, and the Santa Susannas to the west, all visible from campus. Historically, the valley has been devoted to agriculture and cattle ranching, but the last three decades have seen the northward expansion of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. This ongoing development has resulted in new residential communities and an ever-increasing population of more than 175,000.

For more information about Santa Clarita visit https://visitsantaclarita.com/

To Apply

Napier Executive Search is assisting CalArts with this search for Vice President of Enrollment. For more information or to nominate someone for this position, contact Mary Napier (mary.napier@napiersearch.com) or Laura Robinson (laura.robinson@napiersearch.com) for a confidential conversation. Interested candidates should submit a résumé along with a cover letter expressing interest in this position. Additionally, candidates should provide the names and contact information of at least three professional references; references will not be contacted without permission. All application materials should be submitted electronically to CalArts@napiersearch.com as soon as possible. Materials will be reviewed beginning October 6, 2021, and the search will remain open until the position is filled. The anticipated start date is January 2022.

IX.1 EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY CalArts is an equal opportunity employer and does not unlawfully discriminate against qualified applicants or employees because of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender or perceived gender identification, age, religion, creed, genetic characteristics, physical or mental disability, medical condition, citizenship, marital status, military service status, or any other classification or characteristic protected by law. Equal employment opportunity will be extended to all persons in all aspects of the employer-employee relationship including recruitment, hiring, upgrading, training, promotion, transfer, discipline, layoff, recall and termination. Discrimination on any of these bases is unlawful and all persons involved in the Institute’s operations are prohibited from engaging in such discrimination. If you feel you have been discriminated against, you should report any instance of unlawful discrimination to your supervisor, department head, dean, Institute Diversity Officer (“IDO”) or the Office of Human Resources (‘OHR’). The IDO is designated as CalArts’ Equal Employment Opportunity Officer and Title IX Coordinator with respect to employment matters. The Institute prohibits any and all retaliation for submitting a report of unlawful discrimination and for cooperating in any investigation. Any member of the CalArts community who retaliates against an employee for filing a report or cooperating in an investigation will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Please report any instances of retaliation to the IDO or the Chief Human Resources Officer (“CHRO”). 

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