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Lessons Learned from Conducting a Diversity-Focused Faculty Cluster Hire at a Predominantly White Institution

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2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity)


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

February 20, 2022

Start Date

February 20, 2022

End Date

July 20, 2022

Conference Session

Technical Session 2 - Paper 2: Lessons Learned from Conducting a Diversity-Focused Faculty Cluster Hire at a Predominantly White Institution

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions

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Paper Authors


Robyn Sandekian University of Colorado Boulder

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Robyn Sandekian, PhD, is the Director of Faculty Advancement for the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder). In this role, Robyn has a key leadership role with responsibilities for identifying, implementing, and assessing outcomes of policies, programs, and procedures to meet CEAS goals for faculty recruiting, hiring, retention, and advancement including increasing faculty diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Dr. Sandekian earned degrees in Aerospace Engineering Sciences at CU Boulder (B.S. 1992/M.S. 1994), a Specialist in Education (Ed.S.) degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (2011), and a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership (2017), both from the University of Northern Colorado.

She is a Founding Leader of the American Society of Engineering Education Virtual Community of Practice for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Engineering and a facilitator of Safe Zone training and participates in various activities of the ASEE Commission of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (CDEI).

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Dana Francesca Stamo University of Colorado Boulder

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Dana earned her bachelor’s degree in Chemical & Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2019 and has continued on into the Biological Engineering PhD Program. Her research explores novel therapeutics for hard-to-treat infectious diseases such as bacteria which no longer respond to antibiotic treatment. Having completed her undergraduate degree at CU Boulder, she’s been involved with several student organizations and interacted with administration to amplify student voices and actualize DEI efforts. One of Dana’s biggest efforts is the student organization STEM Routes (the CU Boulder chapter of SACNAS). STEM Routes is a group of first-generation, underrepresented, and low-income graduate students who support, mentor, and coach undergraduate students on their path to their professional career. In addition to STEM Routes, Dana has also led the national organizations UMAS y Mecha and oSTEM.

When Dana isn’t doing research, you’ll find her creating. Dana is an artist and graphic designer and loves using her skills to support start-up organizations and amplify community voices by creating websites, logos, and advertising content. Dana also enjoys snowboarding, skateboarding, and roller skating around Colorado.

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Clayton Lewis University of Colorado Boulder

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Clayton Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Computer Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. Lewis served previously as Co-Director for Technology for the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, and Fellow of the Institute of Cognitive Science, at CU, and as technology advisor to the director of the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research, US Department of Education. He is well known for his research on evaluation methods in user interface design. Two methods to which he and his colleagues have contributed, the thinking aloud method and the cognitive walkthrough, are in regular use in software development organizations around the world. He has also contributed to cognitive assistive technology, to programming language design, to educational technology, and to cognitive theory in causal attribution and learning.

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There is growing consensus regarding the need for more inclusive practices for faculty recruitment and hiring. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) have gained little ground in representation on research-university faculty. This lack of representation remains even as the student bodies at those same institutions have diversified significantly. Reasons for this gap include hiring criteria and procedures that may reduce—implicitly or explicitly—the likelihood that outstanding new academics from historically marginalized populations are offered positions on Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) faculties. We present a descriptive case study that recounts a recent cluster faculty hire at the University of Colorado Boulder. The study is designed to share processes used at our institution that were, in part, based on work previously shared by other institutions embarking on similar efforts to improve the inclusivity of their faculty search processes. We discuss the complex and controversial issues that arose while searching for tenure-track faculty and explain how we navigated those challenges to meet our institution’s goals. We also discuss the institutional, college, and department-level support systems that were deemed crucial for recruiting faculty, with their long-term success and retention in mind. We share what worked well, the challenges we faced ranging from simple logistics to significant philosophical differences among and between committee members and others, and a summary of what we will change in the future. This work adds to both research and praxis by providing an example of an inclusive faculty search process to leaders at other institutions who may wish to implement this type of search.

Sandekian, R., & Stamo, D. F., & Lewis, C. (2022, February), Lessons Learned from Conducting a Diversity-Focused Faculty Cluster Hire at a Predominantly White Institution Paper presented at 2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity) , New Orleans, Louisiana.

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