There are many roles associated with recruiting and selecting new faculty for positions at Oregon State University. These roles include:

  • The Hiring official is responsible for sponsoring the search, making the final hiring decision and negotiating terms of the contract. At the close of the search, the hiring official should communicate the hiring decision and rationale in a timely manner, first to the search committee (with thanks for their work) and then to the full faculty.
  • The Search committee represents faculty and stakeholder perspectives during the search and screen process.
  • Subject Matter Experts are members of the committee that have a deep understanding of the disciplinary requirements of the position. The work product is usually an unranked list of acceptable candidates with an in-depth analysis of qualifications, relevant strengths and areas for development, approved by all committee members and delivered to the hiring official at the end of the search.
  • The Search Chair is responsible for facilitating the search process, maintaining search timeline and maintaining search records—such as the Applicant Disposition Worksheet (ADW)—in a timely manner.
  • The Search Advocate is a search committee member from outside the hiring unit who champions diversity, equity, inclusion and validity. The search advocate is responsible for encouraging committee to cast a wider net, helping to minimize/mitigate bias and ensuring that qualified candidates receive full consideration.
  • Broader faculty (as well as staff and student) participation is recommended during position development, active recruitment and candidate site-visits/feedback. Faculty site-visit feedback helps inform the committee’s final candidate analysis.

The relationship between the hiring manager and the search committee must be clearly established up front. It is important for HR and the hiring manager to work together to charge the search committee so that each individual understands their assigned role and the implications of any placement or diversity goals to be addressed by the search. The search committee must be charged to only use appropriate job-related criteria in the published position description throughout the screening process.

While other members of the search committee may occasionally be absent, the search committee chair and search advocate should be present at every meeting of the search committee.

OSU’s Search Advocate program enhances equity, validity and diversity in university hiring. Search Advocates are search and selection process advisors who have received training about implicit cognitive and structural biases, diversity, the legal environment, inclusive search and selection practices, practical strategies and effective ways to be an advocate. Search Advocates advance inclusive excellence by asking questions to help committee members test their thinking, identify and promote practices that advance diversity and social justice and minimize the impacts of cognitive and structural biases. Search Advocates are external members who explore assumptions, norms and practices that an internal member might not question.

  • Search Advocates should come from outside the College or at least the unit where the hiring is being made.
  • Search Advocate and search committee together should review position descriptions and propose edits to make them more inclusive, more attractive to a broader potential pool and to minimize/eliminate unnecessary barriers.
  • Search Advocates should attend every meeting of the search committee.

Several qualities are desired in effective committee members. Although we always seek committee members with clear intentions, priorities and an open mind, there are several other key qualities that are critical for improving diversity in hiring including:

  • Patience – not rushing to judgement or numerical ranking
  • Process driven – doesn’t look for shortcuts and respects the ground rules laid out in the charge
  • Accountable – accepting of responsibility for actions and decisions including protecting the confidentiality of the process
  • Evidence-based thinker – able to change opinions when presented evidence
  • Courageous – able to withstand criticism from others
  • Focused – task oriented and thorough
  • Commitment to addressing bias – trained to recognize implicit bias and willing to address known issues
  • Committed to improvement – willingness to identify previously unknown biases and address the issues
  • Commitment to institution – willingness to put institutional interests ahead of own preferences

Power dynamics can be an issue in the deliberation of search committees. Often, faculty of different rank and stature are present on the same committee. It is important to take steps to prevent power dynamics from affecting search committee deliberations. The hiring manager should carefully select the search committee to avoid issues of power dynamics and establish expectations to mitigate those that cannot be avoided.

Considerations regarding the selection of the search advocate: When the search advocate is from outside the College and Department or School, it means they have less of a vested interest in the outcome. They may be able to aid in having all committee members feel heard and safe in stating their opinions.

Considerations in selecting a committee chair: Individuals that are good at listening, collaborating and encouraging others to voice their opinions should be sought. The chair not only drives the processes and schedules of the committee, but also the committee’s culture. An open and transparent chair is required and the chair and the advocate should work closely together.

Committee composition: Having employees and their supervisors on the same committee should be avoided. The risk of “group think” or silencing of lower-power committee members increases when these reporting relationships exist on a committee.