Employment at ArtCenter


Executive Director, Designmatters

Reporting to the Provost and building upon the strengths of ArtCenter’s art and design curriculum and pedagogy, the Executive Director for Designmatters will provide creative, strategic and academic vision, and leadership for an existing educational department for the College. The Executive Director will be responsible for the management and coordination of the Designmatters department and staff and associated courses, fellowships and other initiatives serving our students, both within the Designmatters minor (currently 50 students) and at-large, with attention to program assessment and student success. The position also engages outside partners, both corporate and not-for-profit, to bring content and philanthropic support to the College through Designmatters offerings and collaborations.

The Executive Director will continue to advance the role of Designmatters and ArtCenter by implementing an educational and programmatic vision that promotes critical consideration of art and design for social change and rigorous engagement with the social, economic, environmental and political environs in which such projects operate. Will engage with the Chairs and educational leadership to develop new and innovative curriculum with a focus on design integrity and criticality, advance ArtCenter’s pedagogy and research methodologies, maintain partnerships with departments with Designmatters Minors degree tracks, and contribute to a mission-driven integration of socially-relevant and entrepreneurial opportunities for all departments.

About Designmatters

Designmatters is at the helm of a diverse set of educational initiatives, special projects and publications that demonstrate the power of design for social innovation: an emergent field of design inquiry and practice that is oriented toward new possibilities for action and human progress. It is an educational department (non-degree granting) at ArtCenter College of Design that engages all majors taught at the College with a dynamic, entrepreneurial and experiential approach to design education. Designmatters serves as a vibrant hub for strategic collaborations near and far from ArtCenter’s campuses in Pasadena. Since its founding in 2001, the Department has produced over 150 social innovation design projects, with design briefs built around advocacy and awareness, branding, strategic communication, product development and sustainability. In 2002, Designmatters established the significant and pioneering affiliation of the College as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with the United Nations.

Reports to: Provost

FLSA status: Exempt

Job posted 10/23/2017. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Qualified applicants should send cover letter with resume and employment application to HR@artcenter.edu and reference "Exec Director DM" in the subject line.


  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field such as social innovation and/or entrepreneurship, nonprofit, business management or related field, from an accredited college or university
  • At least 10 years of professional and/or academic experience demonstrating expertise, relevance and professional relationships in the field of social practice and innovation
  • 5 years of experience in managing a department, including budgeting, project management and supervisory responsibilities
  • Ability to develop effective curriculum appropriate to socially-engaged design practices with a strong focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and career opportunities available within social practice
  • Ability to develop and maintain valuable working relationships with educational partners in companies, educational institutions and /or other organizations relevant to the field
  • Experience with foundation and corporate fundraising for educational programming, with an ability to partner effectively with internal and external development partners
  • Effective oral and written communication skills in order to communicate with executive leadership, staff and the campus community
  • Ability to organize and complete multiple tasks in parallel that require close attention to detail within stringent deadlines
  • Ability to handle confidential information with tact and discretion and recognizes the confidential nature of ArtCenter business
  • Must be able to work with and understand our culturally diverse student and faculty body with empathy and diplomacy to meet their needs and goals
  • Demonstrated experience in and a commitment to diversity, and the ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships within ArtCenter’s diverse communities
  • Ability and willingness to travel nationally, local and out of state, work evenings and weekends as necessary, and to staff events

Preferred Qualifications

  • Masters or Doctorate Degree in social innovation and/or entrepreneurship, nonprofit organization or business management, or other related field; from an accredited college or university
  • Background or experience with art and/or art education

Essential Functions

Department Administrative Operations — 30%

  • General departmental oversight, overseeing the department budget, strategic planning, logistics, events, administrative support to implement operations
  • Provide strategic direction and oversight in the formulation, interpretation and administration of current and long-range policies, procedures and programs in accordance to the strategic plan of the college
  • Oversee recruitment, hiring, orientation, training and supervision of department’s faculty and staff; oversee performance evaluation process, ensuring consistent use of all applicable policies and procedures; counsel, discipline and makes recommendations in terminations, as required
  • Manage department operations with success within the department operating budget [and applicable restricted]
  • Supervise department staff and student workers; work with staff to maintain essential department records, equipment and other assets

Educational Programming — 50%

  • Responsible for leadership in developing the department's programs within the mission of the College
  • Define and continually improve Designmatters curriculum and pedagogy, including the advancement of scholarship and research methodologies in the field, including IRB requirements
  • Ensure the concurrency and efficacy of curricular documentation, including syllabi
  • Oversee program review and assessment to ensure timely preparation of required documentation in keeping with general higher education best practices
  • Mentor and advise students on educational and professional goals
  • Create content for ongoing promotional marketing materials, internal and external communications, and publication and awards opportunities related to the department
  • Partner with the following departments on institutional initiatives as necessary and appropriate: Educational Partnerships; Study Away; Development; Alumni Relations; Marketing and Communications; Admissions; Institutional Research, Academic Advising; Facilities; Library; Human Resources; and the Office of the President

Institutional Operations — 20%

  • Serve on educational or institutional committees
  • Represent ArtCenter at outside events / conferences as necessary and appropriate
  • Maintain memberships and active involvement in applicable professional organizations
  • Ensure compliance with all institutional policies
  • Attend college-wide events as appropriate including graduation
  • Engage in projects or new initiatives requested by the Provost or President

Physical Demands and Working Environment

The conditions herein are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential job functions.

Environment: Work is performed primarily in a standard office setting with frequent interruptions and distractions; extended periods of time viewing computer monitor; interactions with other individuals. Due to the nature of the work environment, there is regular exposure to fumes, dust and noise.

Physical: The position is generally sedentary. Employees sit most of the time, but may walk or stand for brief periods of time. Primary functions require sufficient physical ability and mobility to work in an office setting; to stand or sit for prolonged periods of time; to occasionally stoop, bend, kneel, crouch, reach, and twist; to lift, carry, push, and/or pull light to moderate amounts of weight (up to 20 pounds); to operate modern office equipment requiring repetitive hand movement and fine coordination including use of a computer keyboard; and to verbally communicate to exchange information. International and Domestic travel by car and airline and overnight travel is required. Able to work nights and weekends to attend events.

Vision: Must be able to have the visual capacity to perform activities such as preparing and reading reports, viewing a computer terminal and other normal office work with or without correction.

Hearing: Must be able to communicate effectively in the course of normal office communication or exchange ideas with or without correction.

The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work performed by the employee assigned to this job; they do not purport to describe all functions. Employees may be assigned other duties, and the essential functions may be changed from time to time as necessary.

ArtCenter College of Design is committed to excellence through the establishment of a diverse faculty and staff that best represents our student body and its surrounding communities. The College considers qualified applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, genetic information, medical condition, marital status, veteran status, or disability. Applicants who wish to request an accommodation for a disability may contact the Human Resources Department at (626) 396-2270.