Academy of Art University

  www.academyart.edu
  www.academyart.edu
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Academy of Art University Reviews

Updated September 15, 2014
Updated September 15, 2014
145 Reviews
2.1
145 Reviews
Rating Trends

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Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens
Elisa Stephens
87 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • The locations in San Francisco are in great buildings and interesting parts of the city (in 8 reviews)

  • Great co workers, opportunity to work with incredible instructors (in 4 reviews)


Cons
  • This happens because upper management do not know the amount of work that is done at the "ground" level (in 15 reviews)

  • This place is the definition of a hostile work environment (in 8 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Underpaid

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Part Time Professor  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Part Time Professor in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Academy of Art University part-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    The students are fantastic. I've had the opportunity to make a lot of really great friendships with many talented people.

    Cons

    Department politics, No affordable health care benefits, low pay.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2.  

    It Really Depends..

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Undergraduate Admissions Representative  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Undergraduate Admissions Representative in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Academy of Art University full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Good pay, considering the work. Standard 8 hour work day with a 1 hour lunch, but the work is easy, and boring. Everything is formulaic and well-documented, and techniques (in general) are applicable in many other industries.
    Employees can take 1 class a semester for free (excluding books).
    Co-workers are great, they're all friendly, social, fun - and often overqualified.
    Great resume experience for your next position.

    Cons

    Micromanagement is the biggest problem here, unlikely to change because it's a top-down dilemma.
    Rules, rules, rules. There are way too many minor infractions that have nothing to do with the job that one can incur. They are easy to follow, but ridiculous.
    Employees in my department signed a paper stating that work performance would not be taken into consideration for promotions and raises. Thusly, employees that should be promoted often are not, and management favors advancing their friends. For such a large company, so bizarre.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Tell prospective employees that it is a call center... many people are surprised when they get the job.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3.  

    So far, so good.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Instructional Designer  in  San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Instructional Designer in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at Academy of Art University full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Fantastic co-workers, pleasant managers and a realistic expectation of performance and deliverable. This is the first job in my adult life where I haven't needed to take work home with me. That itself is priceless in value.

    Cons

    Very few employee perks. Vacation time is two weeks for all employees, no matter your tenure. No break rooms / kitchen facilities available to staff.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5.  

    Happy AAU Alumni

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Academy of Art University

    Pros

    Great Faculty with Real Life Experiences to bring to the classroom. An, expansive online curriculum that matches a full service college.

    Cons

    Private school pricing per unit. Will set you back on student debt if you don't do something with the degrees you earn here.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  6.  

    Above average base pay, but very little room for growth

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Undergraduate Admissions Representative  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Undergraduate Admissions Representative in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Academy of Art University full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Awesome coworkers! Pay is decent for the amount of workload you do. You don't have to take your work home as well so that's a plus!

    Cons

    No room for growth, this is basically a sales job without commission!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Loosen up! Make the work place more fun and exciting! Build morale! Motivate your employees just like you would with your students!

    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Bad Executive management, Great Faculty

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Lead Lab Technician  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Lead Lab Technician in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Academy of Art University part-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Helping Students is rewarding and fun.
    Faculty are very friendly and resourceful.
    Free tuition fee class (but still have to pay lab fee)

    Cons

    Top down style management. Executive leaders do not understand the needs of the employees below them and thus are terribly mismanaged.
    President Elisa Stephens MUST give the final word for almost all decisions, thus making progress very slow and bottlenecks every decision from purchasing more printer ink, hiring new employees, and approving new budget proposals

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Listen to the employees on the bottom. Top down management does not work.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 3 people found this helpful  

    This School Should be Quarantined for Toxic Corruption, Incompetence and a Total Lack of Ethics

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Art Instructor  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Art Instructor in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Academy of Art University as a contractor for less than a year

    Pros

    There's such a high turnover rate amongst instructors that you could pick up a semester teaching job relatively quick. Beyond a short-term paycheck, don't count on anything more.

    Cons

    This has to be the most unethical, corrupt and incompetently run school I have ever taught at. The administration is drawn from the ranks of attorneys and advertising executives who only care about financial profit at the expense of the students and their parents. Any instructor who attracts attention by doing his or her job exceptionally well is rewarded with harassment, spying, slander and lay-offs. Head games. paranoia and power trips remain at the top of the administration's priorities, not the concerns of the students and certainly not respect for the instructors who teach them. “Excellence” was only an empty word meant to figure prominently in their sales brochures, not their classrooms.

    I was told by my department manager that a large part of my job would consist of shilling classes, not instructing them. “Always withhold information, always. Keep them insecure and hungry for information and they'll spend more money at the college. Brainwash them into thinking that they can't be successful without taking more of our classes.”

    Six months previous to my hiring, that same department manager had cribbed notes from a lecture she invited me to give at the school on a specialized subject in my field. She then turned around and attempted to teach that very same subject, a subject she had no experience in or knowledge of prior to my lecture. Inevitably, her class was a total failure, which forced her to hire me to teach it the next semester. I only found out about this duplicitous act months after the fact from the students.

    The Academy hands out honorary doctorates so that the school’s owner/CEO can schmooze with high-profile arts/entertainment industry celebrities (even though they only award diplomas as high as a master’s degree to the students). This advancement of her personal ambition was paid for with the hard-earned tuition money of the parents and students.

    And that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It would be a waste of time. They're so arrogant, callous and vindictive that any well-meaning advice would merely deflect off of their colossal cynicism like spitballs on Fort Knox.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    P R O S P E C T I V E   E M P L O Y E E S   B E W A R E:

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Instructional Designer  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Instructional Designer in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Academy of Art University full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    i am sure that the founder of the school had very good intentions. he started the school in 1929. unfortunately, he is gone and it has been handed down to people who evidently do not share his original mission.

    Cons

    i took a huge pay cut to take the job. the salaries are ridiculously low, especially in san francisco. at first i did not mind since i thought it was an academic environment. i was wrong. this is a for-profit university, with emphasis on profit.

    ironically none of that profit finds its way to the employees. we were all overworked and underpaid. full-time instructors there have huge course loads. it sounded as if it was at least 2-3 times the load that a professor would carry in another institution. how can you give your best when you don't have the time?

    i was given the strong impression that quantity and production were far more important than quality. this did not sit well with me. i am a thorough person and i knew that the students were counting on me. i could not let them down. as a result, i was constantly badgered and encouraged to "cut corners" everywhere i could.

     have been told that they own more property in san francisco than any other entity. there is also that flashy car museum. people have made the joke that it is a real estate company with a school attached to it for the tax breaks.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    hire people who have a background as academics or artists. no cops, attorneys, salespeople, etc. initially, the management was comprised of people who had been promoted from within and had done the actual job of the people who they were managing. now they have people who they have hired from outside who don't know anything about art or education. they have turned into a corporate machine that is more interested in profit and the bottom-line then providing a quality education for their students.

    the salaries are unbelievably low. the starting salary was 60k in san francisco and i was averaging about 60+ hours per week. this is not acceptable for a person who lives in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. it does not help to see that the academy is constantly gobbling up new real estate holdings all over town. the president has a huge penthouse at the top of nob hill while you are going into debt just trying to make ends meet.

    you are always on a deadline. i worked there for over three years and never had a proper vacation. i even lost my vacation time because they cut you off at 80 hours. most of my friends have 4-5 weeks of vacation. you get two weeks here and you don't accrue any additional time if you are not able to take the vacation.

    if you are a conscientious person with any kind of integrity, this will not be a good fit for you.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 2 people found this helpful  

    Company values? Company values itself above all else.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at Academy of Art University full-time

    Pros

    Excellent peers and middle managers eager to go the extra mile and do a great job. Great team with which employees and middle managers solve complicated, often politically charged problems. Decent benefits package and hours.

    Cons

    Company values? Company values itself only, not the people who who work for it. Narcissistic upper managers, VPs, and ineffective HR department join forces to protect each other as often (and it is often) as needed. Massive turnover as a result. Inability or lack of desire (probably a little bit of both) to make positive change to work environment or morale. Those at the bottom and in the middle left to do it themselves.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If you can't keep your mouth shut, at least keep the door shut when berating your underlings. They take that home with them and it is incredibly inappropriate.

    Hire competent people instead of old buddies (including people who have been fired from the same organization) and recognize that, when diligent workers can provide tomes describing their factual contributions to your bottom line, perhaps you're unfairly and incorrectly categorizing them as lazy.

    Don't take credit for your employees' successes while pointing fingers at their perceived failures.

    Come to the office once in a while. It's good for morale and you'd probably be more in touch with your employees.

    Turnover isn't good for morale OR the bottom line.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    A dictatorship, complete with gestapo

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Academy of Art University full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    There are no good reasons to work at AAU. Seriously, not a one.

    Cons

    Academy of Art is a dictatorship regime disguised as a school. Let's start from the top... It is run by a megalomaniac who insists on personally making every single decision. Any purchase order or check has to be personally signed by her, so when she is on vacation, things will come to a standstill and then she'll complain about how a project isn't on schedule. She also makes business decisions based on emotion. If she doesn't like you, she will reject any idea you have. But if someone she likes suggests the exact same thing, she will approve it. She also must be deeply unethical evidenced by how the Academy does not follow some laws.
    The executives are just as bad. They are the president's gestapo, and they will do anything to keep her happy.
    Everyone in middle management has their hands tied by the system. Even when they want to do good, create improvements, etc., those requests are shot down immediately.
    Staff vary, just like at any organization. Some are great people who unwittingly found themselves stuck in that hell. Other staff are completely incompetent. But in general, almost all staff (except the admissions reps) are groslly underpaid, viewed as minions, and given zero learning/growth opportunities.
    The Academy has the highest turnover I've ever seen in a company. People will just get fed up and not show up to work ever again. The place just kills your soul... Please don't work there!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make business decisions, not decisions made on emotion. Plan better. If you want a project done, allocate a budget to it. Teach staff new things, give them the chance to learn. Do yearly appraisals and give cost of living increases.
    Sigh, or maybe just overthrow the dictator and everything will improve.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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