Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, February 20, 2012

Proposals sought for sixth annual STEP in Departments workshop

For the last year Dr. Cheryl T. Lee has led a project with a focus of increasing the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority faculty in the Medical School.

So far, her five-member team has created a list of best practices for recruiting minority candidates and initiated a department pilot program for faculty search committees that will roll out this spring. The project grew out of the annual Strategies Toward Excellent Practices (STEP) in Departments workshop, hosted by U-M ADVANCE and funded through the Office of the Provost.


More information
Click here to apply to the ADVANCE Strategies Toward Excellent Practices in Departments workshop.
• Deadline for applications is March 9
• For more information, email or call 734-615-8789

“We’re moving positively in all directions and, in fact, one best practice for the dean is to articulate our priority about commitment to diversity, health equity and inclusion in the Medical School,” says Lee, who is the Dr. Robert H. and Eva M. Moyad Research Professor of Urology and associate professor of urology, Medical School. “We’ve developed a revised Medical School mission statement that is under review in the ADVANCE Advisory board, a committee lead by Senior Associate Dean Margaret Gyetko. We hope to present this to the dean for his consideration in the next month or so.

“We’re moving toward all of the team’s planned goals. In the end, we will certainly need to consider a variety of initiatives to increase the recruitment of minorities in the Medical School. Faculty development is an important part of the overall plan. After all, an important recruitment strategy for faculty is faculty retention.”

The U-M ADVANCE Program now is calling for proposals for the sixth annual STEP in Departments workshop.

The intensive three-day workshop, which will take place May 8-10 in Ann Arbor, draws on academic theory and data to examine obstacles to change and strategies for overcoming them. STEP provides training in organizational dynamics and change, and support for teams of faculty to make positive differences in their academic units.

Participating groups, composed of two to four faculty members, will identify a positive change goal and develop a plan of action that can be implemented in their departments within one academic year.

A limited number of teams across the university will be selected to participate. The deadline for applications is March 9.

Abigail Stewart, director of U-M ADVANCE and the Sandra Schwartz Tangri Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, says the STEP workshop allows participants an opportunity to address workplace issues, and take an active role in solutions.

“In my view, the STEP program is unusual in providing small groups of faculty with a broader framework for thinking about how they want to accomplish their goals at the institutional level (about the curriculum, mentoring, the climate in the department, the service workload, procedures for annual review or tenure and promotion, etc.),” Stewart says. “It offers them a chance to learn not only about what is known about organizational change, but how to use that knowledge to make changes that will ‘stick.’ In the best cases, faculty are, and feel, more effective at making things they care about in their departments or schools work better.”

Lee says the STEP workshop provides “an important forum to approach organizational change around difficult topics.”

“It creates an environment where a potentially difficult problem could be freely discussed, and people all over campus can lend insight from different vantage points,” Lee says. “Part of the process is that teams generate ideas, and STEP helps to refine them into clearer questions and actionable items.”

“Part of the process is that we come up with ideas, and STEP helps refine it down to clearer questions and actionable items.”

Workshop projects have included developing a network for women faculty, improving faculty mentoring, formalized GSI training, establishment of an annual seminar and graduate student dinner during recruitment weekend, and formalizing a department’s course evaluations and assessments of student learning outcomes.

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 under-represented 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, email or call 734-615-8789.

Completed projects from previous workshops

Group leaders and goals:

Mark Hunter, Henry A. Gleason Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, professor of natural resources and environment, School of Natural Resources and Environment; chair and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB), LSA:

The goal was to attract students with diverse backgrounds to the EEB graduate program. The EEB STEP team members created a new master’s degree program in ecology and evolutionary biology (Frontiers in EEB) for students who might not otherwise consider studying ecology or evolutionary biology at an advanced level.

Jennifer Linderman, professor of chemical engineering and professor of biomedical engineering, College of Engineering; and Michael Solomon, professor of chemical engineering and professor of macromolecular science and engineering, CoE:

Goals were to develop chemical engineering junior faculty mentoring and generally improve the climate for junior faculty. The chemical engineering STEP team members created a break-out group (composed of junior and senior faculty) brainstorm possible solutions to problems identified in an interview study.

Michele Swanson and Malini Raghavan, both professors of microbiology and immunology, Medical School:

The goal was to free up faculty time for research by making non-research activities easier and more efficient to complete. With guidance from the microbiology and immunology STEP team, the department instituted changes to administrative practices, teaching assignments and developed opportunities for faculty research collaboration.