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STRIDE Takes Academic Approach to Advancing Diversity

As one part of our commitment to increasing campus diversity, we are continuing to explore ways of increasing the diversity among our world-class faculty.

STRIDE, which stands for Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence, is a faculty-led committee that uses academic research on diversity to improve our hiring practices in order to recruit and retain a diverse faculty.

Soren Sorensen

Soren Sorensen

Led by Professor of Physics Soren Sorensen, STRIDE studies the latest research about all types of diversity—racial and ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, geographic, age, and other forms. The group shares its findings during presentations to campus groups and offers workshops for campus search committees.

STRIDE got started several years ago after some University of Michigan faculty visited campus to talk about a diversity effort they had undertaken.

Soren attended that presentation and afterward expressed interest in doing the same thing here.

“One of the two Michigan professors who made the presentation was a physicist and, like me, an older white male,” Sorensen said, explaining what had piqued his interest. “The ones you have to convince about the importance of diversity are not typically the younger faculty, the minority faculty, or the female faculty. You need to convince the powerful white males in many departments.”

After visiting the University of Michigan to learn more, Soren and the others spent the first year doing their own research.

Two years ago, Soren and Rhonda Reger, director of the Organizations and Strategy PhD program and director of research in the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, made a presentation at the Provost’s academic leadership retreat. Soon after, STRIDE began offering workshops for interested faculty and staff and search committee chairs and members. This year, STRIDE will be taking a closer look at the retention of minority faculty, how diversity affects the tenure process, and the diversity climate in departments.

“At a STRIDE presentation, faculty are hearing presentations from us, their peers—not management,” Soren said. “We hope this is a good way of trying to influence our colleagues to adopt some best practices.”

STRIDE isn’t focused on legal issues; rather, Soren said, the committee is trying to challenge our long-standing ways of looking at things.

In addition to Soren, STRIDE committee members are Craig Barnes, professor of chemistry; Roberto Benson, professor of materials science and engineering; Judy Cornett, professor of law; Paul Frymier, professor of chemical engineering; Camille Hall, associate professor of social work; Sarah Lowe, professor of art; Michael Olson, associate professor of psychology; Bonnie Ownley, Faculty Senate president and professor of entomology and plant pathology; Jay Whelan, professor of nutrition; and Lisa Yamagata Lynch, associate professor of educational psychology and counseling.

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