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Sonny Calderon

Dean of the College, New York Film Academy

Focus Area: Accountability

New York City, New York
Office Representing: Provost/Dean 

Sonny Calderon is the dean of the college at the New York Film Academy, where he formerly served as the screenwriting department chair. He holds a master of fine arts in screenwriting from the University of Southern California and a bachelor of arts in communication from the University of Michigan. In addition to serving as a site evaluator for the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Calderon is a member of the community of practice of teaching and learning in arts disciplines with WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)—a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as certifying institutional eligibility for federal funding in a number of programs, including student access to federal financial aid. He is currently participating in WSCUC's year-long Assessment Leadership Academy.

How did you first get interested in or involved in higher education issues?

"I came to higher education first as an instructor of practice at a private, single-purpose arts institution,” Calderon said. “At the time, the school was offering certificate programs only, and during my tenure at the school, I was fortunate to be able to participate in the design of graduate and undergraduate degree curricula. As the institution grew in scope and size, I became involved in efforts to increase access for students from diverse backgrounds to a quality education in visual storytelling. These efforts are not limited to incoming and current college students; I also work on projects that equip elementary school students with 21st-century communication skills so that they, too, can be prepared to enter college and the workforce."

Why did you apply to be a part of the Forward50? What drew you to this opportunity?

"As an instructor, and later an administrator, I developed an interest in the development of global citizens who are analytical, collaborative, creative, engaged problem-solvers with a desire to have an impact on their world,” Calderon said. “I believe the Forward50 will provide a forum to explore ways to serve students better by expanding access and affordability, and increasing transparency and accountability, so that we can benefit from the next generation of leaders from all types of backgrounds."

Leadership roles with professional associations:

  • Chalk Repertory Theatre: Board of Directors

Membership(s) held with other professional associations:

  • National Association of Schools of Art and Design
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission Community of Practice of Teaching and Learning in Arts Disciplines