CalArts Policy on Creative Leaves


The Faculty Creative Leave Program provides Regular and Technical Faculty with the opportunity to focus exclusively for one semester on the development of artistic, scholarly and/or teaching practices. It is one component of a broad commitment to support faculty development.

CalArts strongly believes that ongoing faculty professional development is fundamental to sustaining the strength of CalArts as an Institute dedicated to creative research and cultural innovation, and can demonstrably enhance teaching effectiveness and student experience. The achievements of our faculty of working artists and scholars, both directly and indirectly tied to pedagogy, make significant contributions in their disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields, enhance our institutional reputation for leadership in creative work and support our ability to attract and retain the most promising students.


Faculty members are eligible to apply for a Creative Leave in the following academic year if:

  • they hold regular or technical contracts at a minimum of .50 FTE at the time of application, and
  • by the beginning of the prospective Creative Leave they will have been continuously employed at CalArts for at least six years at .50 FTE or more, regardless of the type of contract, and
  • by the beginning of the prospective Creative Leave, at least six consecutive academic years will have elapsed since their last Creative Leave, if any.

Unpaid leaves do not count towards the six-year waiting period between Leaves. Medical, Maternity and Family Leaves, however, do count toward the waiting period between leaves.

Except in the case of medical emergency or in agreement with both the Dean and the Provost, the faculty member must take the leave during the academic year for which it was awarded. Faculty may request a specific semester for leave, but the scheduling of individual leaves within the academic year is agreed upon in conversation with the Dean and contingent upon academic priorities and the ability of the School to support its curriculum.

If a Leave is otherwise declined by the faculty member, s/he must subsequently reapply.

If the faculty member is asked by the Institute to defer an awarded Creative Leave by reason of administrative or educational needs of the Institute, their application will receive priority over all other applications in the next cycle in which the faculty member applies.

Failure to reasonably complete the agreed upon terms of a previous leave may be grounds for denial of the application.

Application Process

Creative Leaves are contingent upon the approval of a viable application/project proposal, with demonstrated benefit to the CalArts community.

The application packet consists of a completed Creative Leave Application form, a 1-3 page proposal, letters of commission or invitation as relevant, a statement of intention to undertake any teaching or other paid activities at another institution as known at the time, and a statement of support from the School Dean, confirming that the faculty member is eligible for a Leave and providing any additional context or supporting materials at the Dean’s discretion.

Complete application packets must be delivered by established Institute deadlines (usually in October) to the Faculty Contracts Administrator in the Office of the Provost. The proposal must describe clearly the specific project(s) that the applicant intends to pursue during the leave, as well as an analysis of how the leave will enhance the creative development of the recipient and the quality of the educational and creative experience at CalArts. Following an initial screening, applicants may be asked to submit additional documentation.

Awarding Procedure

Creative Leaves are awarded by the following process:

The review committee consists of nine representatives. There will be one elected faculty representative from each of the six Schools and Library, elected by faculty vote. Academic Council representatives may serve on the committee if elected by their school. Faculty members intending to apply for Creative Leave during the following year should excuse themselves from standing for election. The committee will also include the Co-Chair of Deans Council and the Chair of Academic Council.

The review committee makes recommendations to the Provost for a final decision.

The review committee evaluates proposals for leaves on the basis of the following criteria:

  • The quality of the proposal, including the promise of the work to further the applicant’s creative development, as well as to contribute to the quality of educational and programmatic offerings, and the visibility and reputation of CalArts;
  • The demonstrated success and effectiveness of the applicant’s last Creative Leave (if applicable); and
  • Demonstrated exemplary achievement in the areas of Institute service, teaching effectiveness and/or artistic production.

Creative Leaves are an institutional commitment. As such, each application is evaluated on its own merits, across all Schools and programs at the Institute.

The Provost will receive these recommendations in consultation with the Deans and take account of additional criteria including:

  1. Deferral of previous leave application by reason of administrative or educational needs of Institute.
  2. Denial of previous leave application by reason of Institutional budgetary constraint.
  3. Outstanding institutional concerns, including unsatisfactory contract and/or performance reviews, letters of warning or disciplinary actions specific and confidential to the individual applicant.
  4. Available funding.

The Provost will confirm the final selection of awards with the review/nomination committee prior to notifying individual faculty members of the awards, and be available to answer questions from the committee as appropriate.

The Deans Council representative and Academic Council Chair will report on the review process to their respective Councils. The Provost will make an annual report to the Academic and Campus Affairs Committee on the Creative Leave program, including process and outcomes.

Notification of a successful application for Creative Leave will be by the Provost Office, by no later than the first day of Spring semester each year, pending confirmation of the institutional budget by the Board in March.


Faculty must teach at CalArts for at least one (1) year following the completion of the Leave or the Leave funds must be repaid to the Institute.

Implicit in the awarding of creative leaves is the expectation that faculty who receive them will not be expected to perform academic or administrative duties at CalArts. Faculty members receive 100% of their teaching salary, benefits and administrative stipends (if any) for one semester while on Leave. During the Leave, faculty do not receive compensation for auxiliary activities at CalArts, including stipends related to the Community Arts Partnership (CAP), “Special contracts” or consulting work, and the Institute will not expect this work of them, except in very limited cases at the request of the faculty member, and by mutually agreed upon arrangement with the School or Provost Office.

Upon award, those faculty who are granted creative leave will have their names and a brief summary of their proposal published on the Institute website, to celebrate their achievements and also to inform the broader community, including donors and students, of the creative activity of our faculty, and the Institute’s investment in it.

Faculty must submit a 2-3 page report by the end of the semester following their Leave, detailing any activities and accomplishments in relation to the original proposal. If the understanding of the relevance and productivity of the Leave evolves after the submission of this report, an amended report may be filed. Creative Leave recipients will also be asked to participate in an annual colloquium, open to faculty, students, staff and Trustees, in order to share their accomplishments with the larger community.

As a supporter of their work, faculty should acknowledge CalArts and its Creative Leave Program in press releases, programs, credits/acknowledgments and collateral materials related to the work undertaken during leave.

Financial Contingencies

CalArts will make every effort to fund the Faculty Creative Leave Program as a necessary investment in the creative infrastructure of the Institute, with sufficient resources to support leave in any given application cycle for 1/7 of the total number of regular and technical faculty contracted by CalArts at .50 FTE or more.

However, the available number of creative leaves each year will be announced in December as part of the budgetary process, subject to final budget approval by the Board.

Policy Category:
Adopted Date:
Nov 2012