Associate Vice President for Finance and Institute Controller

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), a highly regarded, nationally ranked independent multidisciplinary arts institution, seeks a dynamic and experienced leader to join its Finance division. The AVP & Institute Controller directs, coordinates, and oversees CalArts' financial reporting and accounting activities; establishes Institute financial policies and standards; directs and oversees the operations of student financial services, general accounting, post-award accounting, accounts payable, and finance; and assists the Institute's budget planning, development, investment, and treasury areas. The AVP & Institute Controller staffs three committees of the board of trustees and is responsible for the accuracy, integrity, and maintenance of the Institute's financial records. The Controller reports to the Senior Vice President for Finance & Administration and Chief Financial Officer of the Institute, who is a direct report to its President. For FY2024, which began April 1, 2023, CalArts's operating budget is approximately $80M. Its endowment is currently valued at $205M.

Required qualifications
  • A Bachelor's degree in accounting or business management, or other field re plus a CPA and/or MBA, and/or or equivalent combination of education and work experience.

  • 10 years in financial accounting, reporting and management with at least five years in a supervisory capacity. Experience with computerized accounting, purchasing, payables, budgeting, payroll, and receivables systems.

  • Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of Federal and State financial laws, regulations, and operating guidelines as they pertain to institutions of higher education.

  • Ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously. Ability to manage others in a fashion that values human resources. A situational management style that empowers others, fosters teamwork and engenders accessibility. Ability to lead change and move business processes to the next level. A willingness to “roll up the sleeves” and get involved as needed. The ability to interface with external vendors, stakeholders, advisors, and others. Familiarity with the work of ratings agencies.

  • Experience working with, staffing, and presenting to governance boards.

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills. Strong computer (spreadsheet and word processing) skills. Strong listening skills and an ability to communicate persuasively. A quick mind and the ability to “connect the dots.” Well-honed strategic and tactical skills. Ability to work effectively with a wide range of constituencies in a diverse community.

  • Demonstrated commitment to equity and ability to foster a community with a culture of inclusiveness that holds its members accountable for creating, supporting, and championing diversity and the expansion of opportunity.

  • Proven ability to manage a variety of operations with diverse facilities, motivate and develop staff to potential, develop realistic budgets, and design and manage efficient business processes required.

  • Demonstrated ability to provide effective short-term and long-term vision and leadership in a changing higher education environment.

  • Change management and project-management skills and experience.

  • Exemplary communication skills (both written and oral) evidenced by background in preparing comprehensive reports and executive summaries incorporating business trends, industry trends, customer satisfaction, and other key matrices.

  • Highly developed organizational and leadership skills.

  • Demonstrated computer competency and knowledgeable of business information systems.

Preferred Qualifications
  • Relevant professional experience in or with (for example, through sustained work as a public accountant) an accredited not-for-profit higher education institution.

  • CPA, active or inactive, highly preferred.

To Apply

CalArts has engaged Opus Search Partners to support the recruitment of this position. Craig Smith, Partner, and Jeffrey Stafford, Senior Associate, are leading the search. Inquiries, applications, and nominations should be sent by email to Jeff ( ). The search process will unfold with the greatest possible attention to candidate confidentiality. Required application materials include a resume and a cover letter. The cover letter should address how the candidate meets the required and preferred qualifications of the role and is ready to succeed against its responsibilities, and how they would support the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at CalArts.

CalArts offers provides a comprehensive range of benefits to all its employees. The target salary for the AVP Controller position is $160,000 - $180,000 depending on the qualifications of the selected candidate.

CalArts is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity employer.

Qualified women and people of color are especially encouraged to apply.

California Institute of 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 arts schools. Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, CalArts emerged with a bold new paradigm for arts education, the kind not seen since the Black Mountain College experiment of the 1930s that promised 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 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, School of Critical Studies, Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, Herb Alpert School of Music, the School of Film/Video, and the School of Theater. 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.

Please click here for more information about CalArts' activities in Inclusion, diversity, equity, and access.