Mentoring

The Institute recognizes the uniqueness of each student; each student has individual needs and goals. Although the curriculum of every métier in the six schools has a specific structure and sequence, the Institute as a whole understands that the achievement of individual goals by an artist-student requires close guidance from an artist-faculty who has a deep understanding of these goals. To provide this individual attention at CalArts we have established a process we call mentoring.

Student-mentor interactions are among the most important elements of the student experience by which they attain their artistic and academic goals. The mentoring process is expected to be warm, open and collegial, yet challenging and rigorous, with a fundamental aim of helping students make the most of what the Institute has to offer.

Each student entering CalArts is assigned to a faculty mentor from the school in which they are enrolled, yet the student is free to seek out other faculty to supplement this formal assignment. Students can also request a change to their mentor without explanation, however, all changes will be based on the availability of the mentor being sought. Students should not expect unassigned faculty to be able to provide the same level of support as their assigned mentor. The number of mentees a mentor works with will be determined through consideration of each faculty member’s teaching, service, and creative workload for the year.

The primary role of the assigned mentor includes the following:

  • guidance and advice on student progress within the métier

  • support the student through their completion of all academic requirements, in partnership with Academic Advising

  • support for student needs with the aim of developing self-advocacy, and

  • Encouragement and critical feedback on a student’s self-evaluation as an emerging artist. 

In order to achieve these responsibilities the mentor is encouraged to refer the student to other Institute resources as needed, such as the offices of Academic Advising, Student Experience, Health and Wellness, Financial Aid, International Student Office, etc., as well as to other faculty. The mentor will be responsive to mentee needs as they arise and encourage mentees to meet as necessary, yet mentees are also expected to be proactive in establishing their mentor-mentee relationship and to communicate their needs effectively. In all cases the mentor will articulate a way that meetings will be scheduled and make sure that meetings occur regularly.


One of the mentor’s main responsibilities is supporting the student’s progress within the metier. 

Primary to this is ensuring that the student is progressing through their metier requirements and taking a course load that supports their artistic and academic development.

To do this a mentor must be up to date with the current requirements in their metier and help students plan courses that will allow them to complete these requirements and (if applicable) the sequencing of classes necessary. They should also have a knowledge of the overall degree requirements and understanding of the relationship between mentoring and academic advising.

A list of current requirements for each metier are: https://calarts.edu/academics/registrar/overview You should also track a student’s progress in Self Service.

There is metier support for the mentor; mentors should dialogue with their Program Directors and/or Deans with any questions they may have.

Some schools have additional support structures around metier advising; please consult your program director or Dean’s office for more information on resources in your school.

 


The Office of Academic Advising works with students and their respective Schools to guide them toward degree completion. Students can make an appointment with an Institute Academic Advisor to review degree requirements, determine pending coursework for graduation and to clarify any Institute policies or processes.

In working with BFA students, the Advisors can help explain the Critical Studies requirements and provide general academic planning. The Advising office is located in the F207 suite or can be reached over email at academicadvising@calarts.edu. 

For the 2022-23 school year, Keely Kerr works with the Schools of Music and Film/Video and Critical Studies.  Adrianna Bennett works with students from the Schools of Art, Theater and Dance. 

More about Academic Advising can be found: Academic Advising | CalArts or email academicadvising@calarts.edu.


All Faculty Affairs Events to be remote unless otherwise noted. If you have questions about any of the activities listed below, email aewalters@calarts.edu. CalArts community members can view the Google calendar with Zoom links here.

If you need to catch up on past faculty emails, please visit the Hub.


Upcoming Sessions:

  • October 11, 2022 5pm Mentoring Role and Support - In Person 

Past Sessions:


Training and Support:

Past sessions:

  • Thursday September 23rd, 4:00pm to 5:30pm - Hybridity and Tactics in the Classroom/check in

Teaching and Equity Coffee Series: 

  • Thursday November 18th, 4:00pm - Creating Classroom Contracts and Equitable Classroom Models
  • Thursday December 9th, 4:00pm - Canons and Critiques

For Search Committees:

Every Tuesday 9:15am to 10:00am in Fall: Recruiting & Hiring 101 Best Practices 


Faculty mentors are often the best resource for suggesting courses and faculty that will support the work of their mentees; please encourage students to reach out to faculty across the institute that will support their artistic and academic development. Make sure that students understand that faculty availability might vary semester by semester.


At CalArts, all faculty and staff members — with some limited exceptions of counselors, Student Health Center staff and the confidential student resource advocate — are Responsible Employees under CA SB493. Responsible Employees are required to report all sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and related activity disclossed to them, they become aware of, or that they discover among faculty, staff and students. Faculty and staff are likewise required to report all misconduct related to discrimination and harassment under any protected class.

Thus, a mentor should not guarantee confidentiality to their mentees.

If you feel as if a mentee is about to divulge information you will be required to report, it is advisable that you pause the conversation to make sure they understand your role and to direct them to the confidential resources available to them on campus: Mandated Reporting Requirements | Faculty and Staff Toolkit | CalArts

It can feel uncomfortable to interrupt a personal conversation, particularly if a student is upset. However, it is important that students understand the nature of the mentor relationship and mentors feel comfortable setting appropriate boundaries. It is important that mentors understand their role as Responsible Employees.

If you have questions about this or need support in navigating the mentor mentee relationship feel free to reach out to the Director of Faculty Affairs or the Title IX Coordinator, Dionne Simmons.

Reports should be made to the Title IX Coordinator, Dionne Simmons, who can be reached via titleix@calarts.edu, at (661) 291-3091 and through an online form. The information relayed in faculty and staff reports is considered private but not confidential. The Title IX Coordinator will discuss resources with the people involved. 

Each report made by faculty and staff should include all known details, how the information came to be known to the reporter and whether the reporter has reported the incident to any other office or individuals on campus. For matters involving child abuse or neglect of a minor, reports must be made immediately; the state of California maintains a 24-hour notification requirement. The same window applies to all other disclosures of prohibited conduct at CalArts.

More details about faculty and staff standards stemming from Title IX and institutional policies on sexual misconduct are available in Dionne Simmons’ presentation to new faculty members. The presentation addresses, in part, prohibited relationships by persons in authority. In short: All faculty, staff and administrators are prohibited from pursuing or engaging in amorous relationships with students for whom they have, or may have, professional responsibilities.

For more details: Mandated Reporting Requirements | Faculty and Staff Toolkit | CalArts


Mentors are often involved in personal and complex conversations with students. They are also often critical voices in identifying students who need additional support around mental health, accomodations and other needs.

However, faculty are not expected to meet those needs directly; it is important for mentors to understand the boundaries of the role and their own limits. It is best for faculty to refer students to Counseling | CalArts for support for mental health needs. 

Similarly, mentees will come to mentors with concerns ranging from artistic progress to financial aid, internship opportunities, accessibility support. We do not expect you to be an expert in all of these areas but you should acquaint yourself with where you can send students for support.


The mentor relationship is critical to the student experience; mentors should  meet with students A MINIMUM of two times a semester. It is strongly recommended that they meet once before Course Advising Day and at least one more time during a semester.

Responsibility for scheduling these meetings is shared by the mentor and mentee; mentors should be clear about how they can be contacted and how students can schedule a meeting with them. Many faculty find it useful to use an online sign up through their google calendar or an external calendar site, such as calendly.

Mentors should also establish clear parameters around how they want to communicate with their mentees; whether communication will happen by email, how long communication might take, what hours you will respond to emails, etc. Consistency is important here; be careful of setting expectations of immediacy with students you may not be able to maintain.

Mentors are responsible for communicating with the Program and Institute if they have a mentee they are not in contact with at least once a semester. One can do that by email to their Program Director or use the CARE form.


As members of the CalArts community, you are in an excellent position to spot a distressed or emotionally struggling student. This may be a result of your position as an administrative assistant, dean, faculty, staff member or student. 

You may observe that at certain times of the year, particularly during final projects and holidays, students experience increased anxiety. The student's behavior, especially if it is inconsistent with your experience of them, could well constitute an attempt to draw attention to their plight, a "cry for help."

No level of concern is too small to report. It’s better to say something so the student can get the support they need.

Community of Care page: https://calarts.edu/community-of-care

DOC: Community of Care Behavioral Support Guide


A mentor’s main responsibility is supporting student progress through the metier. The School and Program may opt at any point to issue a letter of concern to students whose performance is indicating they will not meet artistic progress by the end of the semester, consequences of not satisfying those requirements, and may also recommend those students meet with their mentor and/or program director for assistance.

A letter of concern’s main intention is to express concern and care for the student, so they understand where there may be potential issues and how those issues may be addressed.

An example of such a letter can be found: https://hub.calarts.edu/pages/metier-standing

 


Many students look to their mentors for help finding professional opportunities in their fields. For support around internships and development opportunities mentors can look to the Center for Life and Work: Career Services | CalArts.

You should also feel free to refer students to the Professional Development courses available in most metiers.

We know many students find opportunities through their mentors; this is one of the advantages of the mentoring program. Please be sure to take an equitable approach when sharing opportunities with students.


Annual Mentor Reports are mandatory for each student and due no later than the third Thursday after May graduation (December graduate reports are due at the end of the fall semester). Mentor reports should reflect ongoing discussions between mentors and mentees, and include a review of the student's artistic and academic progress in the métier to date. Reports become part of the student's permanent academic record and will be accessible to students while in residence.

Mentor Reports include the following:

  • current academic standing and suggestions for the following year of study

  • brief assessment of how well the student is achieving the métier’s learning goals

  • any noteworthy accomplishments or setbacks.


Students may request a change of mentor by completing a Change of Status form, available in the Registrar Office. Mentor changes are at the request of a student but reassignments will depend on workload and faculty availability. Students do not need permission from their current mentor to make a change, but many will reach out to discuss the change. Please reassure them that they have the right to make the change and that it will not affect their ability to work with you in the future.