After more than 25 years at UCLA Extension, Pascale Cohen-Olivar, director of the Department of the Arts and program director for entertainment studies, has announced her plans to retire.
Cohen-Olivar joined UCLA Extension as a program representative for the entertainment studies program in 1997. Prior to that, she worked for a university in Australia and for production companies in Los Angeles.
“When I saw the job at UCLA Extension, it married my experience in education and entertainment,” she said. She knew that she had to apply.
During the 20 years she led entertainment studies, Cohen-Olivar helped guide the program through industry and technological changes, ensuring its position on the leading edge of the entertainment business. She spearheaded the development of certificates in independent music production and independent producing, training students to get the most out of their own equipment and rely less on studio-based technology. She also recently created a certificate in post-production in the film and television industry.
In 2016, she was appointed as interim department director, overseeing all five academic areas within the arts. After two years in this role, her position was made permanent.
“I liked working with the different programs in the department,” she said. “My focus was to promote community and value-added activities for students in the arts.”
Under her leadership, the department held networking events, conferences and even created a “find your crew” area on its website to help connect students working on film, TV and music projects. She also founded the UCLAxFilmFest to showcase the excellent work of her students and help them earn their first laurels before entering the festival circuit. Her relationships with industry giants like Fox Studios and BMI, among others, led to scholarships and sponsorships that benefited students and UCLA Extension as a whole.
“We don’t just offer courses,” said Cohen-Olivar. “Students come to us because we offer a lot of activities so that students can feel like they are really a part of something.”
As head of the largest academic department at UCLA Extension, Cohen-Olivar oversaw 20 certificate programs, a master’s degree program and more than 19,000 annual enrollments.
“I am still always surprised by the interest we receive in the arts,” she said. "It isn’t like other areas where a certificate typically leads to a job in that field, but what we can help students to get a foot in the door so they will get further.”
As for what is next, Cohen-Olivar says that her focus is on spending time with loved ones and traveling.