A Matrix to Make a Difference for Michigan Tech Faculty

Sunrise over Michigan Tech campus in silouhette
Sunrise over Michigan Tech campus in silouhette
Creating an inclusive campus culture takes listening, analysis and amping up.

What does it take to recruit and retain talented and diverse faculty? Listening, analysis and amping up helps build a campus where career advancement and job satisfaction is attainable for all.

"If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The words of journalist and pioneering aviator Saint-Exupery exemplify the spirit behind the Advanced Matrix Process for University Programs (AMP-UP) at Michigan Technological University. First piloted in November 2015, AMP-UP is a highly collaborative, inclusive structure to broadly engage the campus community in creating an environment that welcomes, values and supports women, underrepresented minority individuals and those who have traditionally experienced an excess of bias that accumulates into measurable disadvantages for career progress and job satisfaction. 

“AMP-UP began as a vision put forth by our NSF ADVANCE team after a year-long, highly reflective process, assessing career progression of women and under-represented faculty," says Adrienne Minerick, associate dean for research and innovation and assistant to the provost for faculty development.

The main group of "original, die-hard advocates," Patricia Sotirin, Sonia Goltz and Minerick were joined by other passionate individuals, including but not limited to Anita Quinn, Andrew Storer, Audrey Mayer and Jacqueline Huntoon. 

"AMP-UP has grown into a highly inclusive team that has undertaken continuous improvement projects to improve our workplace," Minerick says, explaining that some projects have been quickly institutionalized, like the Early Career Management committees. Others are still in development, like the Male Advocates and Allies effort or the use of WebFocus to transparently share progress. "Over time, this grassroots effort—with significant administrative support—will have lasting positive impacts on Michigan Tech,” says Minerick. 

Charting and accelerating equity in AMP-UP

Figure 1 chart
Figure 1: The three initiatives–scholarship and research dynamics, unit climate and partner engagement–interact with data collection and analysis, program adaptation/development and continuous improvement, to make way for adaptations and interventions moving forward. 

AMP-UP launched with three main teams to work on initiatives (Figure 1): scholarship and research dynamics, unit climate and partner engagement. These initiatives were selected based on data analysis that shows Michigan Tech has made progress toward equitable conditions, but that inequities remain across all advancement indicators (representation, salaries, start-up packages, space, promotion, retention and leadership. See Figure 2).

Female faculty chart.
Attrition occurs in female faculty.
Faculty average salary by year chart.
 Some stages reveal equal pay between male and female faculty; the notable exception is full tenured faculty.
Start up by gender chart.
Women tend to receive less in start up funds as faculty. 
Average assigned research space by gender and rank chart.
Full tenured faculty tend to have more research space by square footage; female faculty tend to have less space than their male counterparts. 

For example, women comprised 18 percent of STEM faculty in 2008 (46 women out of 260) and only grew to 23 percent in 2016 (63 of 278). To better understand some of the reasons behind this slow progress, the indicator data was supplemented with three interview studies: an externally conducted study of eight women who left the University between 2011-2015; interviews with department chairs; and focus group discussions and phone interviews with dual career faculty and their partners. Patterns that emerged indicate the need to focus on equal opportunity to build credentials in scholarship and research dynamics, inclusive workplaces in unit climate and career opportunities and growth for significant others in partner engagement.

Moving towards an inclusive campus

Academia is notoriously slow to change. So AMP-UP’s vision to broadly engage the community necessitated a continuous improvement model; an ongoing—self reflective data gathering and analysis, along with strategic interventions and programming—will sow the seeds of change. In their matrix, the AMP-UP teams outlined the three stages of the continuous improvement cycle; output from the process are interventions and programs to educate or start new processes. AMP-UP concurrently maintains ongoing conversations, activities and policy updates that improve the campus climate for all. 

AMP-UP teams have made considerable progress over the last two years. At the President’s October Campus Forum, each initiative team reported on their projects and progress. Posters provided additional information and are available on the ADVANCE webpage. Attendees were also asked to rate the importance of ongoing and future efforts.

Topic: Continuous Improvement
Criteria Importance

Expansion of Partner Cost-share Pilot


Review Action Items from the Unit Climate Survey


Advocates and Allies Program (vetted intervention relating to sexism in the workplace)


Review of Family Friendly Policies


Continued Focus Groups in Support of Ideas that Spring Forth from the Unite Climate Survey


Embed People Highly Skilled in Continuous Improvement Using Lean Principles on the AMP-UP Teams


Collective Advertising and Website Pilot


Topic: Scholarship and Research Dynamics
Criteria Importance

Personalized Career Development Plans


Clearly Define “Faculty Service” within each Academic Unit


Career Development:  Review Non-Tenure Promotion Path; Lecturers, Instructors, Professor of Practice


Recruitment Process for Executives and Academic Administrators


Consider Academic/Promotional Track for Librarians


Topic: Programs, Interventions and Implementation
Criteria Importance

Identify and Build Reports that are Generated in Time for Key Decisions Aligned with the University's Strategic Plan


Align Metrics to Track University Goals Utilizing WebFocus


Industry Engagement Kaizen (see additional poster for more information)


Build a Mechanism to Share the Analyzed Data so that others can learn


Standardize University Level Metric Collection, Archiving and Reporting


Develop an Annual Communication Mechanism to Inform the Community about the Data Available


Sabbatical Retention Survey/Intervention


Revamp the Reporting Screen in Digital Measures to Help Close the Loop on Sabbatical Leaves


Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.