Jan Schuette, the embattled dean of the American Film Institute Conservatory, is stepping down at the end of the academic year, the institute announced Monday.
Schuette, who took the helm of the conservatory in 2014, came under fire for implementing changes in the thesis program and making certain personnel moves. Many on the faculty felt he did a poor job of consulting with them. Earlier this spring, the faculty voted to unionize. In August, the faculty union held a “no confidence” vote and called for Schuette to be fired.
“It has been a distinct honor to serve as Dean of one of the world’s great film schools,” Schuette said in a statement issued by AFI. “When AFI invited me to take this role, its directive was to build upon its proud past and plant the seeds of growth for the future. Like filmmaking itself, these years have been both challenging and rewarding. I’m proud to say that many of these goals have been accomplished, and it’s the right time to turn the work over to a new Dean who will take the Conservatory forward.”
Schuette came to AFI from the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin, where he also faced faculty and student dissent over his leadership. In October 2015, 30 members of the AFI faculty sent a letter enumerating complaints about Schuette’s communication style, and quoting him as saying, “I am the dean, I can do whatever I want.”
The conflict intensified over the summer, when five members of the faculty were not invited to return for the fall, including the former dean of the conservatory. The faculty union accused the institute of punishing them for union activity, a charge that AFI denied.
Schuette will stay on through the end of the academic year in June. The institute has not lined up a successor.