BOX 4-6

Searching for Excellence and Diversity: Workshops for Search Committee Chairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers workshops for faculty chairs of search committees that aim to increase the diversity of candidates recruited and hired for faculty and administrative positions. Relying on principles of active learning and peer education, the workshops encourage faculty to share search experiences and strategies across department and school/college boundaries.a The workshops emphasize the 5 Essential Elements of a Successful Search.b An introduction to and discussion of the effects of unconscious biases and assumptions on evaluation of candidates is an important feature of the workshop experience. From 2003 through 2006, 152 faculty members representing 70 different departments (57% of all departments in the university) participated in the workshops.

WISELI has been evaluating the success of this approach to improving the hiring process at UW-Madison by tracking:

  1. Workshop participants’ ratings of the usefulness of the workshops.c Overall, all workshop participants who responded to our request for feedback (N=65; 42% response rate) indicated that the workshop they attended was “Somewhat” or “Very” useful; none reported that the workshop was not at all useful. Similarly, all respondents reported that they would recommend the workshop to others, and no respondents indicated they would not recommend the workshop.

  2. Self-reported gains in skill related to the search process on an all-faculty survey.d Workshop participant responses on the 2006 Study of Faculty Worklife at the UW-Madison (N=1,230; 56% response rate) indicate that participants did significantly increase their skill in the following areas: establishing search procedures to ensure the equitable review and hiring of candidates and creating a welcoming environment for new hires.

  3. Survey responses of new faculty satisfaction with various elements of the search process.e New hires in departments that sent at least one faculty member to the WISELI training reported an increase in their satisfaction with the hiring process, while departments that did not participate saw a decrease in their new members’ satisfaction with the hiring process, from 2003 (before the workshops were implemented) to 2006 (Figure B4-6A).






cC Pribbenow, C Maidl, and J Winchell (2005). WISELI’s Workshops for Search Chairs: Evaluation Report. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin.




eE Fine and J Sheridan (2006). Searching for Excellence & Diversity—Training Workshops for Search Committees. Poster presentation, 5th Annual ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Principal Investigators Meeting. Washington, DC, May 17, http://wiseli.engr.wisc.edu/initiatives/hiring/UWMadison_Poster2006_2.ppt.

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