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Search Advocate Program

Launching in fall of 2021, Illinois State University’s Search Advocate Program is modeled after Oregon State University’s program and designed to support the recruitment and selection processes for faculty and staff across campus. Key priorities are ensuring equitable and inclusive processes throughout the recruitment and selection cycle, increasing the diversity of candidate pools, and enhancement of compliance with search and selection policies and procedures.

What is a Search Advocate?

A search advocate “is a 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 [a] commitment to inclusive excellence.” - Oregon State University Search Advocate Program

Search Advocates will:

  • Be trained process experts;
  • Serve as non-voting members on the search committee;
  • Not be directly connected to the position being searched;
  • Focus on enhancing the fairness, validity, and diversity/inclusivity of University search and selection efforts;
  • Participate in the process beginning with consultation on the posting formation through integration of the new hire (including search committee structure guidance and targeted recruitment support to reach diverse candidates);
  • Utilize facilitative questioning techniques;
  • Cultivate a blame-free environment to discuss implicit bias;
  • Improve search validity and fairness;
  • Understand and promote equity, diversity, and inclusion;
  • Anticipate, recognize, and address bias risks;
  • Be part of a diverse representation of Search Advocates from across campus and employment classification; and
  • Serve as partners in the search process.

Search Advocate values:

  • Collaboration – working together towards a common goal
  • Curiosity – letting go of certainty; seeking to understand the unfamiliar and resist the rush to judgement
  • Empathy – imagining what another might be thinking or feeling without imposing one’s own perspective
  • Equity – ensuring that each person has what they need to succeed, addressing continued barriers to a level playing field
  • Hospitality – welcoming others with respect, regard, and sensitivity to their needs and desires
  • Inclusion – showing value for each person and respect for their differences, supporting full participating, and ensuring that all are able to reach their potential
  • Respect – honoring, admiring, esteeming, treating others with courtesy and dignity

Support provided:

  • 16 hours of initial training
  • Continuing education opportunities through the year
  • Community of practice meetings/gatherings
  • Teams site to connect with other advocates

Time commitment (actual amount of time varies by search):

  • Partner with the hiring manager to develop an inclusive job posting and search committee at the beginning of the search process
  • Attend all search committee meetings
  • Review all applicant materials
  • Attend all interviews
  • Meet with the hiring authority or Search Advocate program leadership as needed throughout the search
  • Partner with the hiring manager to plan for the new hire’s integration in the department/school and campus community


The spring workshop series will be conducted via Zoom from 12:30-4:30 p.m. on each of the following days:

  • Monday, February 13
  • Wednesday, February 15
  • Monday, February 20
  • Wednesday, February 22

Attendance at all four sessions is required to be certified. Register here.

Contact Information