Announcing the Equity Advocates Program

Equity Advocates Logo

The Office of the Associate Chancellor and Vice Provost for Diversity is excited to announce the launch of the Equity Advocates Program, a new campus-wide initiative that provides support to faculty search committees around issues of equity and inclusion. The Equity Advocates Program assists faculty search committees in finding the most highly qualified candidates while simultaneously contributing to the diversity of UIC’s faculty through equitable and inclusive search processes. Even when following the appropriate policies and procedures, the search and selection process is challenging and there are many instances in which searches can be prone to issues of both explicit and implicit forms of bias. Attending to issues of bias is imperative in our efforts to conduct searches aligned with our institutional values, and Equity Advocates can support search committees in ensuring their processes are structured in ways that prevent bias and mitigate its negative effects.

UIC’s Equity Advocates Program is modeled after similar successful programs (including Oregon State University’s Search Advocate Program) and with input from campus partners in the Office of Access and Equity, the Office of the Dean of Students, and Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs.

Equity Advocates (EAs) are faculty and staff volunteers who are provided with rigorous training and ongoing professional development opportunities through the Office of Diversity as well as other campus partners. EAs serve on search committees at the request of Hiring Managers, providing valuable knowledge and skills related to issues that affect equity and inclusion in a search. For example, implicit bias, issues of status and power, difficult dialogues. As external and non-voting members of the search committee, EAs ask questions and offer observations about committee processes and discussions in order to encourage committee members to reflect on their thinking and decision-making which may be influenced by biases. EAs also identify opportunities and strategies to engage in collaborative processes that promote diversity and equity and minimize the potential biases at the individual and structural levels.

Becoming an EA is a great way to acquire DEI service experience and professional development that can translate beyond the context of faculty hiring (e.g., undergraduate student recruitment, graduate admissions). Advocates will expand their professional networks, and gain an opportunity to be a part of a professional learning community of individuals across campus dedicated to improving campus climate and culture.

For more information about the Equity Advocates Program, or to submit an application to become an advocate, visit our webpage. Initial certification training begins this Fall and we expect advocates to be ready to serve on search committees in Spring 2022. For questions, email equityadvocates@uic.edu. We invite you to share our media kit.