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Strategic Initiatives

Recruitment and Retention

ADVANCE aims to increase the recruitment and retention of more ranked women STEM faculty at senior, mid-career and junior faculty levels, with an emphasis on increasing the percentage of women of color faculty to levels at or above the academic national averages.


  • Developed a Powerhouse Faculty Toolkit to encourage the hiring of diverse faculty members.
  • Formalized a Dual Career Program between the departments, deans, Provost’s Office and broader community to help dual-career couples find work at UH and in the City of Houston.  
  • Included more positive diversity language in University job postings, as well as encouraged postings to minority-specific job boards.

Committee Chairs:

  • Dr. Mary Ann Ottinger, Associate Vice Chancellor/Vice President, Grand Development, Division of Research
  • Dr. Larry Pinsky, Co-PI, Professor, Physics

Professional Engagement, Development and Advancement

Women STEM faculty are underrepresented in holding key STEM administrative leadership positions at the Dean, Associate Dean, and Chair levels. Programs that include leadership training and advancement paths provide participants with clear information, a supportive climate, and real world experience in a leadership position. ADVANCE will work to create programs that provide mentoring relationships and clear pathways for career development.


  • The percentage of women among those promoted to Full Professor increased to more than 40% in ADVANCE disciplines during the last promotion cycle (which followed mid career workshops), representing the highest number of women promoted in any promotion cycle since 2012 (see Figure 1, below).
  • We have reached our ADVANCE goal for women department chairs - we now have seven women department chairs, and almost half of all the Associate Deans in ADVANCE disciplines are women. Further, 33% of Khator's cabinet members are women, and campus-wide, we now have 25% female Deans. 
  • The group defined leader competencies and skill sets required to succeed as Department Chairs, which are published on the ADVANCE website and used by departments and colleges.

Figure 1: Percentage of Women per Promotion Cycle, 2014 - 2017.


Committee Chairs:

  • Dr. Holly Hutchins, Co-PI, Associate Professor, Human Development & Consumer Sciences
  • Dr. Stuart Long, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Diversity and Inclusion

Expanding gender equity and the diversity of the faculty is a high priority for the University of Houston. This will require clearly defined institutional processes and effective on-going training. Strategic initiatives will focus on issues surrounding diversity, inclusion, and unintentional bias among faculty while re-engineering institutional processes to promote inclusiveness and diversity.


  • Developed training materials as a result of the diversity search committee training workshop.
  • Noticed a marked increase in the number of female and minority applications as a result of the diversity training. See results.

Committee Chair:

  • Dr. Cathy Horn, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Work-Life Infrastructure

Achieving an optimum level of work-life integration is a challenge faced by many people in diverse industries. However, the challenges are compounded for faculty in higher education, particularly for women faculty who are more likely to be the main care givers to children (and increasingly elders) as a result of the tenure system. In addition, STEM faculty, particularly women STEM faculty, are more likely to have partners in STEM, resulting in the need for dual career programs that will attract and facilitate the ability to hire both partners. ADVANCE will work to positively impact sustainable work-life integration.


  • Created a Women of Color- Underrepresented Minority Leadership Subcommittee
  • Developed a Child Care Policy which offers 15 spots at the Provost’s discretion for the Children’s Learning Center for tenured and tenure-track faculty members.

Committee Chairs:

  • Dr. Mark Clarke, Associate Provost, Faculty Development & Affairs
  • Dr. Elebeoba May, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Social Science Research

ADVANCE is currently conducting a five-year study investigating the psychological processes that yield institutional effectiveness, particularly the effects of work climate on individual/departmental performance through engagement. The team will focus on the following research questions:

  1. What are the key aspects of a departmental work climate that affect faculty and department engagement and performance-related outcomes?
  2. Is engagement the mediating mechanism in the psychological process through which department climate promotes individual and department level performance?
  3. Is the process through which departments promote individual and department level performance different for men and women, and is it different in departments with small and large percentages of women?


Committee Chairs:

  • Dr. Leanne Atwater, Professor, Management
  • Dr. Alan Witt, Professor, Management and Psychology