Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, March 7, 2011

Faculty teams sought for ADVANCE STEP program

The U-M ADVANCE Program, with support from the Provost’s Office, is calling for proposals for the fourth annual Strategies Toward Excellent Practices (STEP) in Departments workshop.

The intensive three-day workshop, to be held May 4-6, will offer a small number of faculty teams the chance to hear about organizational dynamics and change, work through ideas for how to effect positive change in their work environments, and complete a plan for their units.

A limited number of teams across the university will be selected to participate. Proposals are due Friday.


What participants from past workshops had to say:

“GO! This is great training/experience for any faculty at any point in their career (but the earlier the better). The new skills will benefit me in many ways.”

“The workshop provided us with a conceptual framework and strategies to help work with our colleagues to make changes in our department. I feel that I have a better understanding of the dynamics of the change process, both at the departmental and institutional level, but also at the personal level. We have already begun moving our project forward.”

“STEP provides an excellent start for a team interested or charged with initiating some change or improvement, even a vague one.”

"It's been wonderful to watch groups of faculty feel that they have new tools — conceptual and practical — that help them accomplish goals they have, not for their scholarship but for their department," says Abigail Stewart, director of U-M ADVANCE and the Sandra Schwartz Tangri Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies.

During the workshop, teams will develop a plan for change in their departments, with a goal of implementation within one academic year.

"STEP encourages change from within,” says Christina Whitman, vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. “Faculty who have attended the workshop have returned to their departments with real solutions. The range of problems addressed has been impressive — from how to conduct department meetings more fruitfully, to establishing peer programs and support networks to reduce attrition among students of color."

Other projects included developing a mentoring system for faculty and graduate students; creating a database of recent Ph.D. graduates and other candidates, with a goal of increasing the diversity and the strength of the faculty candidate pool; and establishing programs that increase transparency in policies, and improve morale and departmental inclusiveness.

U-M ADVANCE works to improve the campus environment in the areas of recruitment, retention, climate and leadership. In particular, ADVANCE focuses on issues facing women and underrepresented minority scientists and engineers, and the dynamics of effective cross-gender and cross-race alliances. STEP is one of several programs it offers to fulfill this mission.

To be considered for the workshop, teams must include at least two and up to four members from a single department, and all members must be able to attend the full workshop. Each team must send a letter of application, no longer than two pages, with the names and affiliations of confirmed members. It should articulate the team’s reasons for wanting to participate, the overall aim for the department, and goals for the workshop. Applications should be submitted to:

For more information on this workshop, contact or call 615-8789.