Established in 2008, OSU's Search Advocate program enhances equity, validity, and diversity in university hiring. Search Advocates are OSU faculty, staff, and students who are trained as search and selection process advisors. Their preparation includes a 16-hour workshop series addressing current research about implicit bias, diversity, the changing legal landscape in hiring, inclusive employment principles, practical strategies for each stage of the search process, and effective ways to be an advocate on a search committee. As a quality assurance measure, advocates who wish to remain eligible beyond the first year must engage in relevant continuing education that is recorded and approved through the Search Advocate program.
The president and provost require that a search advocate participate in any Provost's Hiring Initiative and Tenured Faculty Diversity Initiative search. They have committed to ensuring that designated search advocates also be included on leadership search committees. Many administrative and academic divisions have adopted policies requiring search advocates on certain types of committees as well. These leadership decisions show their trust in the quality of OSU's Search Advocate program and their desire to have these searches benefit from search advocate contributions.
Each Search Advocate is a content-neutral outside process consultant/participant who advances inclusive excellence by asking questions to help committee members test their thinking, identifying and promoting practices that advance diversity and social justice, and minimizing the impacts of cognitive and structural biases. As external committee members, advocates are able to explore assumptions, norms, and practices that an internal member might not question. The search advocate plays a vital role in position development, recruitment, screening, interviews, references, evaluation, and integration of the new faculty or staff member into the institution. In partnership with the search chair, search committee members, and hiring official, the search advocate affirms OSU's commitment to inclusive excellence.