Jim Volz: School of the Arts






Report: Strategic Planning for Student Success

In annual faculty retreats, Department of Theatre and Dance faculty engage in a strategic planning process designed to formulate a coherent educational/theatre performance process that assists our students survival rate in a highly competitive

professional arena. National statistics reveal that the unemployment rate for actors hovers above 80%, and while other theatre areas offer greater employment potential, students must be well prepared prior to graduation to take advantage of these opportunities.

Collaboration is Key to Performance Success in the Arts

A major collaborative effort utilizing one-on-one assessment techniques, faculty mentoring, and "jury" processes has resulted in regional and national awards and pivotal internships and coveted jobs for our students.

The effort includes:

1) Small Group Career Planning Sessions involving outside

professionals, alumni, and faculty in one-on-one and small

group discussions with students in the following areas:

A) Executive Time Management;

B) Stress Management;

C) Resume Formulation;

D) Cover Letters;

E) Portfolio Presentations;

F) Agent Negotiations;

G) Auditions & Interviews.


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Over the past eight years, an average of five small group departmental workshops have been conducted on campus in the above areas each semester. These highly personal workshops were usually kept to an intimate 10:1 faculty/student ratio and were facilitated by CSUF faculty on a volunteer basis.

Students involved in these sessions have secured internships and agents, prepared materials and learned techniques that helped them find employment, met campus faculty and staff who have mentored their academic and professional progress, and met area artistic leaders who have offered them a "foot in the door" for highly competitive acting positions.

2) The formulation of a New Student Mentoring Program that

reaches out to freshmen and transfer students and links them with one willing and able faculty member with an

interest in their career aspirations and current training.


Over eighteen faculty members volunteered to serve as faculty mentors between 1997-1999 and, although the outcomes are more difficult to assess, anecdotal evidence suggests that students who are "at risk" are most likely to seek out a personal mentor through this program, whereas many students already work one-on-one with theatre and dance faculty as part of their

normal training program. "At Risk" indicates freshmen or transfer students who almost immediately feel lost in our fast-paced, highly competitive environment where 300+ majors are

auditioning for 100 or so performance opportunities at CSUF each semester.


3) A carefully tailored "Jury System" that engages students in

performance and/or portfolio assessment with a team of faculty. This process is typically conducted before a semester begins and at the end of a semester. This process is utilized for both undergraduate and graduate students.

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The Jury System is discussed throughout this report and 1999 results are included in the enclosed Email attachments.


Outcomes Assessment: Perceptions and Realities

To reinforce our own views of our training, jury, mentoring, and educational methods, the Theatre and Dance Faculty conduct specific outreach efforts in hopes of adding to our information base. Recent efforts include the following:

1) An evaluation/assessment survey sent to all CSUF Theatre and Dance Alumni in December, 1998;

2) An evaluation/assessment survey randomly distributed

to incoming freshmen and transfer students and upper-

division students in Theatre and Dance in December, 1998;

3) The use of an outside consultant to review our progress

and assessment efforts and offer suggestions for improvement in December, 1998.

The two evaluation assessment surveys have been compiled and are included in an Email enclosure for potential inclusion in the WASC Self Study. Overall, they pointed up ongoing concerns and reinforce the personal attention students receive in the Department of Theatre and Dance and mirror the many positive individual faculty evaluations the department conducts for every course.

Key evaluative comments include:

• I was welcomed with open arms.


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• Excellent, organized team effort.

• The instructors were well versed in their area of expertise

• My CSUF experience was great! I don't think it could have

been better.

• As a woman, prepare me for the "not so equal" world I was

about to get into.

The outside consultant's report offered insightful suggestions for the faculty and the CSUF administration and was reviewed in a Departmental retreat at the beginning of 1999 as part of the

Department's strategic planning.

The consultant's observations included:

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Assessment: A General Overview

Careers in the performing arts demand life-long preparation, training, and assessment and the CSUF Theatre and Dance Faculty integrate assessment activities throughout the curriculum. Aside from the formal written evaluations conducted for every class, every semester, a number of faculty conduct midterm evaluations, while others meet one-on-one in evaluation sessions with each member of their class. Since University faculty are actively engaged with students in the Performing Arts Center from 8am to nearly midnight virtually every day of the academic year, it would be surprising if any department at CSUF has more student/faculty contact or ongoing personalized assessment activities.

Acting students are evaluated the first week of classes and individual, one-on-one feedback is a major part of the growth process. In virtually every acting class, students are given personal written and/or oral feedback with each performance project. In the BFA Acting program, students "jury" before a panel of faculty members at the end of their Sophomore year and again at the end of their Junior and Senior years. Transfer students in the acting program jury before a panel of faculty members when they enter CSUF and periodically throughout their tenure at CSUF. Of course, all acting students are also given the opportunity to audition before a panel of directors (student and faculty) each semester and are cast in plays for our community audiences. Of course, as actors in high profile University productions, our students are continually evaluated by professional theatre critics and general audiences (by and large the same community they will be working for in the future)!

Directing students are adjudicated in one-act play festivals, through public performance and through feedback from the appropriate faculty. The one MFA directing student accepted each year has a team of faculty who guide, evaluate, nurture, and assess progress. They meet each semester to evaluate past performance and discuss future projects.

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In dance, auditions are held at the beginning of each semester and the faculty evaluates each dancer one-on-one. They are again adjudicated through the audition process each semester by a panel of choreographers who choose whether or not to cast them in their dance pieces for the main stage productions offered to the public. Again, their work is also judged and evaluated in the public eye.

In the Dance for Children's seminar, each student is required to submit a portfolio book which is evaluated by the faculty. In fact, by the very nature of dance training, students are evaluated on a day-by-day basis in a very personal, professional way.

In the Design and Production program, the design faculty conducts end-of-semester portfolio reviews of both graduate and undergraduate students, with the core faculty meeting one-on-one with each student. In addition, student designers and assistants are continually mentored, advised, and critiqued by the design faculty during the intensive period of pre-production.

In our teacher education program, each student has a senior faculty member who advises and assesses their progress from start to finish, including classroom visitations during their student teaching experience.

In the MFA programs, all acting faculty meet with students individually for thirty minutes at the end of each semester and give feedback in person and in writing.

In efforts to further assist Theatre and Dance students, the department conducts an active mentoring program involving the vast majority of the full-time faculty who regularly meet with students outside of class time to assist with scholarly, creative, professional, or career oriented endeavors.

Many CSUF faculty members are actively engaged in professional development activities, research, and training as a means to improve their teaching mastery and stay current in the field. The Department of Theatre and Dance has a special faculty orientation/professional development session for part-

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time faculty and all part time faculty and graduate student instructors are evaluated annually by the department personnel committee.

The Department is accredited by both the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOLS OF THEATRE (NAST) and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOLS OF DANCE (NASD) and is continually involved in assessment activities through these venues and through CSUF's program performance review process.

Assessment: Outside Performance Specialists in 1999

The Department generally assesses the success of the Career Programs, Mentoring Programs, and "Jury System" by engaging outside adjudicators from the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF) who come to the campus, attend productions, and offer personal feedback to actors, directors, designers, and other students involved in the major theatre productions. The publicly performed theatre and dance productions serve as the academic laboratory for students majoring in theatre and dance.

The Los Angeles Times arts critics offer professional critiques of most of our work, but the ACTF officials offer a more formalized assessment and rank our students and productions on a regional and national basis with a select few invited to attend

the Regional ACTF (at CSU Humboldt in 1999) and the National

ACTF at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

In a sweeping set of regional and national honors, Cal State Fullerton students were invited to bring two productions to the Regional ACTF and both an undergraduate student and a graduate student were invited to participate in the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Competition in Washington D.C. Indeed many other students were honored for their directing, playwrighting, acting, and design work, and a list is included in the Email attachment for potential use in the WASC Study.

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The timely assessment efforts outlined above and the three-pronged collaborative assessment approach provides a framework that has served the Department well and may be of use to other academic areas interested in integrating academic

work with career planning and performance assessment.

The collaborative activities mentioned above have resulted in students winning regional and national awards (most recently in February, 1999 at the prestigious regional American College Theatre Festival at CSU Humboldt where students walked away with the lion's share of awards for acting, playwrighting, directing, and design). Two students were honored as national finalists and performed on stage at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington D.C. in April, 1999.

The use of outside adjudicators, a national consultant, and CSUF faculty in cooperative, collaborative ways will hopefully be of use as part of the WASC Self Study.

Respectfully submitted,


Jim Volz

Professor, Theatre and Dance




Dr. Jim Volz

Department of Theatre and Dance

California State University, Fullerton

Performing Arts 151, (714) 278-3538

Email: jvolz@fullerton.edu


Appendix A: New Students



(Conducted Fall, 1998/Compiled January 26, 1999)



1. Are you a transfer student from a junior college or 4-year college?

Yes 14 No 19

If yes, from what college did you transfer?

CSU Fresno

Chico State University

Fullerton Junior College (2 responses)

College of the Desert

Madison Area Technical College

University of Zurich, Switzerland

Saddleback College

Modesto Junior College

University of California, Santa Barbara

Palomar College

Riverside Community College

San Francisco State University

Iowa State University



2. Are you an entering freshman? Yes 12 No 21

If yes, from what high school did you graduate?

Damien High School (La Verne, CA)

John F. Kennedy

Saquoit Valley High (New York State)

Corona High School


Ne Kantonschool Aaran

Canyon Springs High

Esperanza High School (2 responses)

Mater Dei High School

Aliso Niguel

Central Kitsap

Palm Springs High School

Capistrano Valley High School

Will C. High School (Vacaville, CA)



3. Did you attend the annual High School Theatre Festival sponsored by the CSUF Theatre and Dance Department? Yes 3 No 30



4. Why did you choose Cal State Fullerton?

Because of its outstanding Theatre Department and because it is a commuter school.

I was given a full music scholarship, but gave it back when I saw the Theatre Department.

I liked the fact that tap and jazz were not ignored and are available to take.

I heard good things about the Theatre Department and I really liked the campus when I visited it.

The BFA Musical Theatre program.

I had high recommendations about the Theatre program from alumni.

Because it had a great Theatre, Business and Music Department.

The location was by my house.

Teacher recommendations and Southern California Educational Theatre Association Festival from 1993.

I had heard of the great Theatre Department at this school.

It is close to home, has a good Theatre Department, BFA/Degree in Musical Theatre offered.

It has a good reputation for the Theatre Department and is relatively close to home.

Good reputation- Communications and Theatre Department, late deadline.


Because I heard that it had an awesome Theatre And Choir Department.

Because of the cost and the experience the instructors have had.

Because of the Theatre and Dance Department.

BFA Musical Theatre Department.

Great Fine Arts Department.

It is far away from home, but not too far. It is a happy medium geographically.

I choose Cal State because of the Speech/Theatre Arts Department.

I heard the Theatre Department was excellent.

I chose Cal. State Fullerton because it was close and both my dance and drama teachers graduated here and recommended it.


It is an affordable out-of-state college with a good Theatre program.

It has a great Theatre and Education Department, and UCLA didn't accept me.......yet.

The Theatre Department has an excellent reputation.

It was closer to home and has a good Theatre Department.



It was close enough to home to drive to. I was impressed when I came to visit and spoke with the Professors. I liked the idea of "juries" and being in classes with people basically at the same level who care as much as you do.

Due to the excellent Technical and Design Theatre Department.

The location, classes, and majors.

Because of the Theatre program and it's an easy school to get into.

Because it is an affordable school in a nice area with an excellent Theatre program.



5. What are your initial impressions of Cal State Fullerton’s Theatre and Dance classes and department?

They are very in-depth and a great starting point for future classes. A little fast moving though (step A comes before B).

They are some of the best teachers I have ever had in this department, which makes their classes fun and interesting.

I am very impressed and I think I will improve my dancing greatly.

I am really enjoying them and improving my skills a lot.

They are very professional. Great talent from the faculty advisement area and wonderful ideas for information.

I think they are great and very productive.

Great classes- good teachers, but some are not very nice.

Certain rude faculty members shouldn't be teaching.

Excellent teachers, directors. Theatre building and facilities need major renovation.

I am thoroughly satisfied with both the theatre and dance classes.

The dance classes are awesome, especially Professor A! I am also very pleased with the new acting 263 teachers! Professor B is so clear and dedicated in her objectives and her motivations for us!

I think the department is very good and the teachers are knowledgeable and interested in the subjects they are teaching.

Good program, competent teachers. There should be Jazz 2 offered.

Professional and helpful.

The classes really prepare you for the theatre world. They don't wait for a person's Junior and Senior year to begin working on their major.

Most of them are well worth it, but there are a couple of classes required that just don't interest me.

I wish the classes were smaller. Most of my classes are too crowded!

I want more tap classes available, higher levels of instruction, renowned instructors from Broadway and Los Angeles that have worked with famous choreographers.

Professor C rules! Professor A too! Professor D (new acting coach) is fantastic! The floor in room 133 is always dirty!

Mixed. I like the department as a whole, but a few of the classes I feel are unnecessary.

Very professional; the students and staff are extremely friendly- I was welcomed with open arms.

I think the Theatre and Dance classes here are very well taught and informative. I enjoy them very much.

Excellent, organized team effort. The staff devotion to getting something done.

I have only had one, but I enjoy it.



I like my Theatre and Dance classes. Both are very comprehensive. I would like to read more scripts in theatre too. It is a little confusing to know what is happening in the department. I would like to do more.

I enjoy the classes that are more active, including Jazz1 and Voice and Movement.

Very disciplined. I can learn a lot from the instructors as well as other students.

Wonderful! Specifically: Professor B, Professor E, Professor A. They have been challenging me all semester. They care and invest so much time and energy.

So far it seems pretty good, but I don't have much to compare them to.

I'm enjoying it and learning a lot! The Production and Scenic Design faculty are excellent and I'm glad I transferred.

Very well taught. Lots of hard work is put into each course.

Thus far, the instructors in my Theatre/ Dance classes(Voice and Movement, Jazz1, Ballet1) have been excellent and I am overall impressed with the quality of the department.

6. Are you working part-time while attending college?

Yes 27 No 6

If so, how many hours do you work each week?

1-10 hours 6

11-20 hours 13

More than 20 hours 9

7. How many units are you taking this semester?

1-6 units 0

7-12 units 3

13 or more units 30



In what City do you live?


Fullerton (15 responses)

La Palma

Diamond Bar (2 responses)


San Dimas

Mission Viejo



Santa Ana

Huntington Beach

Aliso Viejo

Buena Park



Mission Viejo

Yorba Linda


9. Are you receiving financial aid from CSUF? Yes 8 No 25

Approximate Annual Amount:

$5,500 $4,000 ? (2 responses)

$1,110 $2,700 $6,000



Additional Comments?

Make voice lessons available in the schedule! It's the one part missing from Undergraduate training. I need to work on that before the BFA juries/ program.


I think it is hard for students to know what is happening. I think an orientation would help.

I would recommend a better orientation program for out-of-state students.

I've been in college for a year and a half and I love it.

We need scholarship money for outstanding performance and teacher recommendations.

We need [particular] faculty in certain areas of emphasis.