August 07, 2007

New Research Shows Strong Growth in Number of University Ombuds

A study conducted by Mary Newhart, a masters candidate at the IRL School at Cornell University, identified 201 ombuds currently practicing at U.S. colleges and universities. Prior published estimates ranged from 120 to 150. In addition, 42% of survey respondents said their offices had been established after 2000. Newhart's research supports anecdotal observations that ombuds in higher education are moving from more traditional advocacy roles to conflict management specialists conforming to IOA standards. A full copy of her thesis is available for download. (Ecommons@Cornell.)

This sort of research is long overdue. The data will surely be useful for institutions considering creating an ombuds office and established ombuds defending their existence.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Mary for this much needed research!
    I look forward to reading her thesis in its entirety, as it will no doubt clear up the following perplexities regarding the original post above: An early '70s NASPA Journal, reported on a study that had found over 200 ombudspersons practicing in U.S. institutions of higher education at that time. I am also a bit puzzled by the 120-150 number as we had about 160 members of UCOA some ten years ago, almost all of whom were practicing college and university ombudspersons (and I personally knew of additional practitioners who were not UCOA members). On the other hand, I am not surprised by the reported 6 percent establishment rate in the past seven years. We have closed over 50 percent of the college and university ombuds offices in my state in the past ten years, and opened an almost equal number of new ones.