Graduate Project


An Evaluation of the Search Advocate Program at Oregon State University: Identifying Strengths and Opportunities for Development Public Deposited

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  • A commitment to diversity is now quite common in the missions of colleges and universities. One of the primary barriers to hiring a diverse faculty is the role that implicit bias, or the case of identifying flawed ideas as reliable choices systematically, plays in the search and selection process. At Oregon State University, a Search Advocate Program has been developed as a way to introduce faculty and staff to the concept of implicit bias and search process procedures in order to enhance validity, equity, and diversity in the search and selection process. The goal for the Search Advocate Program is for participants to apply what they have learned as they serve in the role of search advocate (SA) on search committees across the university. To date, there has not been an opportunity to get a sense of how this knowledge compares to what people knew prior to enrolling in the seminar, nor complete a systematic follow-up with SAs to assess how they have applied their learning to an actual search. An instrument developed to measure knowledge across several domains that represent the learning outcomes for the Search Advocate Program workshop finds that the workshop increases participants’ broad understanding of the search process and recommended procedures. A short survey sent to all SAs having completed the workshop between January 2015 and December 2017 investigates the ways in which the workshop has informed their work on search committees. Finally, interviews with experienced SAs delve into deeper findings about common experiences on search committees and helps to formulate recommendations for the future of the program. Program recommendations include expansion of workshops to hiring authorities and committee chairs, better integration of committee members and the SA, and retention of SAs by recognition and efficient placement on search committees. Future research should investigate the influence the presence, timing, and placement of a SA on search committees within university departments and units has on increasing diversity in hiring outcomes.
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