April 30, 2008

IOA Training in Paris

The International Ombudsman Association will offer its introductory training program, "Ombuds 101," at UNESCO in Paris, France, on June 16-17, 2008. The interactive program is held over 2 days and covers the basic functions and skills of an ombudsman program in an organizational context. June 18-19, IOA offers a specialized course "Conflict Resolution," designed to view conflict as an opportunity to make us more effective as agents of positive change, primarily in the workplace, but in other settings as well. Both courses are taught in English. The courses cost $1,095 and and $900 before the early bird deadline of May 2. (Training Info.)

UK Financial Ombudsman Service Debates Name Change

A recent review of Britain's Financial Ombudsman Service suggested that people might not find "ombudsman" a welcoming word. The organization, which helps settle individual disputes between consumers and businesses providing financial services, decided to invite suggestions from the public. So far, more people seem in favor of keeping the name. (Lord Hunt's Report; FOS Query; Change the Name; Keep the Name.)

The comments are strikingly similar to those raised in the on-going debate within IOA (although none of the comments raise the issue of gender neutrality).

April 29, 2008

U. Alabama Names Faculty Ombuds

The Faculty Senate of the University of Alabama has appointed Dr. Michael T. Dugan as the new faculty Ombuds. Dugan is the Ernst & Young Professor of Accounting and has published over 35 articles in various academic and professional journals in accounting, economics, and finance. He is the recipient of five teaching awards, including the National Alumni Association's Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. He is a member of the American Accounting Association, the Financial Management Association, Beta Alpha Psi, and Beta Gamma Sigma. (UA Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes; UA Faculty Profile.)

Pace University Appoints Interim Ombuds

Pace University has announced that Patricia Barnes will assume the job of interim University Ombuds, replacing John Barkat who was appointed the new UN Ombuds last month. Barnes currently serves as Assistant Ombuds at Pace and has served as the director of the Westchester Mediation Center, and director of training for the Dispute Resolution Center of Orange and Putnam Counties in New York. She serves as an instructor of conflict resolution at Columbia University and regularly conducts mediations for the U.S. Postal Service. She holds a BA in Psychology from Southern Oregon University and a JD from the University of Oregon. (My Pace.)

Related post: Barkat Appointed U.N. Ombuds.

Interest-Based Negotiating Resources

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry Division of Employment Relations has published a training materials on interest-based bargaining techniques. The 30-page participants' training manual provides an overview of their training approach. A PowerPoint presentation is also available for download is designed to be used in conjunction with the training manual. (MT DOL via Bill Warters' Campus-ADR Weblog.)

Podcast Interview With RIT Ombuds

The April 21 podcast from the Rochester Institute of Technology features an interview with the RIT Ombuds. Lee Twyman discusses her position and the role and function of the RIT Ombuds Office. (RIT Podcasts.)

Related post: RIT Ombuds Explains Role in Quelling Conflicts.

April 25, 2008

Details of So. Cal. Ombuds Caucus

On Friday, May 16, the Southern California Ombuds Group will hold caucus at Santa Monica College. The topic for the meeting is Crisis Intervention and, time permitting, the role of Ombuds as systemic change agents. For more information and reservations, contact Tina Feiger (Feiger[underscore]tina[at-sign]smc[dot]edu) by May 9.

Profile of New Princeton Ombuds

D.A. Graham, who joined the Princeton Ombuds Office on February 15, is the subject of an article by the university's press office. The profile reveals that, before becoming an Ombuds, Graham was a U.S. Navy chaplain, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and receiving the Military Chaplains Association Chaplain of the Year Award. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Graham holds a master of divinity degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and a master of human relations degree, with a specialization in mediation and negotiation, from the University of Oklahoma. (News at Princeton.)

Prior post: New Ombuds at Princeton.

April 24, 2008

Philly Schools Chief Promises Ombuds Program

Incoming Philadelphia School District CEO Arlene Ackerman has commissioned a panel of 24 local and national experts to evaluate the district and make recommendations before the next school year. Yesterday, Ackerman told reporters that she would create an ombudsman office to deal with district complaints better. No other details are yet available. (Philadelphia Inquirer.)

More posts about School District Ombuds.

Western Michigan University Looking In-House for Permanent Ombuds

Western Michigan University has announced that it is seeking a faculty and staff member to fill the position of University Ombuds. Founded in 1970, WMU has the distinction of having one of the oldest University offices in the country. The position is now held by Dr. Thomas Bailey, who has served in a half-time capacity since January 2007 and was president of UCOA in 1999. Notice of the opening was posted on April 23 and applications are due by April 28. The position pays $47,367 to $55,419 per year. (WMU News; Careers at WMU.)

Yes, that's right, an application window of just five days.

Related post: Western Michigan University Reopens Ombuds Office.

April 23, 2008

Saginaw Valley State Names New Ombuds

Saginaw Valley State University has announced that visiting professor Burk Foster will replace Dick Thompson, who is stepping down as University Ombuds in August. Over the past three years, Foster helped develop SVSU's criminal justice program. From 1974 to 2005, he was Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Oklahoma and has worked as a civilian and Air Force police officer. He has published extensively on prison history, jail and prison policies, and the death penalty. (Valley Vanguard; Foster's Home Page.)

Prior post: Saginaw Valley State Ombuds to Retire.

Hawaii Ombuds to Lead Forum on State Constitution

One of the most important questions Hawaii voters will be asked to vote on in next November's election is whether there shall be a convention to amend Hawaii's Constitution. Neal Milner, a political scientist and current head of the Ombuds office at the University of Hawaii Manoa State and Hawaii House Representative Della au Belatti will lead a discussion at the Hawaii Venture Capital Association on April 24, 2008. (Hawaii Reporter.)

Job Posting: Cleveland Clinic Florida

The Cleveland Clinic is looking to hire a health care Ombuds for its hospital in Ft. Lauderdale. Reporting to the Manager of Patient Relations, the position identifies, evaluates and resolves patient grievances/problems. Minimum five years extensive public relations experience preferably in a patient advocacy capacity in an interdisciplinary patient care setting are required. No salary or closing date indicated. (CareerBuilder.)

Florida County Commissioners Reject Ombuds Proposal

In the wake of a real estate scandal last year, Pinellas County officials have been considering how to do to reform the way the county buys and sells land. On Tuesday, county commissioners rejected a proposal by Commissioner Karen Seel to create an ombudsman so county employees can speak up without fear when they feel someone higher up is playing politics on a real estate deal. Seel suggested creating an employee ombudsman last year. "An employee should never have any hesitation about contacting a commissioner if they think anything is unethical or improper," she said then. But when Seel asked about the ombudsman idea Tuesday, interim County Administrator Fred Marquis quickly rejected it. "I would have a real problem with that whole concept," he said. "Don't build in a system of bypassing the chain of command." (St. Petersburg Times.)

Yes, this is bad news, but an important reminder of the anti-progressive mindset that stands in the way of more rapid growth in the Ombuds profession.

April 22, 2008

Job Posting: University at Buffalo

The State University of New York at Buffalo is hiring a University Ombudsperson in the president's office to provide dispute resolution and information to faculty and staff, and upward feedback to administrators. The position is described as confidential, independent and informal, and requires five years experience in ADR, negotiation, mediation and conflict management, or a related area. Salary negotiable (but likely in the range of $66,980 - $137,327/yr); applications due May 20. (UBJobs, posting no. 0800195, via HigherEdJobs; UB Salary Schedule.)

Although few details are available publicly, it appears that this is a new position and different than the "Student Advocate Ombudsman" which reports to Judicial Affairs. (
UB Parent Guide.)

April 19, 2008

Midwest Meeting of University & College Ombuds

Northern Illinois University in DeKalb will host the sixth annual Midwest summer meeting of College and University Ombudspersons on July 14, 2008. This event provides an opportunity for academic Ombuds to become better acquainted and to share concerns about their unique professional roles and environments. If you are a new academic ombudsperson, you may also be interested in a one-day seminar on Sunday, July 13. More information forthcoming in a few weeks.

ACR's 8th Annual Conference

The Association for Conflict Resolution will hold its eighth annual conference September 24 through 27, 2008, at the Hilton in Austin, Texas. The theme is "Aspirations, Possibilities, and Realities: Expanding Principles, Practice, and Research in a Changing World." More details are forthcoming. (ACR Conf Info.)

Related post: ACR Updates Ombuds Section Website.

2009 IOA Conference Set for Montreal

The fourth annual conference of the International Ombudsman Association is planned for April 15-19, 2009, at the Fairmont, Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal QC, Canada. Hold the date and make sure your passport is current. (IOA Conf Details.)

Britain's University Watchdog Calls for American-Style Ombuds

Four years ago, Ruth Deech was appointed the first independent adjudicator for Britain’s 147 universities. Since then, Deech has dealt with thousands of stand-offs between students and their universities. Last year her team handled 1,400 inquiries and 600 grievances and found for the student in a quarter of the cases. Deech is retiring soon and warns that student discontent is growing steadily. Although her office is expanding to deal with the expected rise in complaints, Deech also says that “Universities need to take a positive attitude to complaints.” In particular, “We are in favour of bringing in a US-style system of campus ombudsmen. Just like you have a college doctor we want a college ombudsman in every university.” (Times Online.)

Related post: University Ombuds Still Rare in UK Due to New Judicial Process.

This seems to be a unique opportunity for IOA to expand its international influence. Just imagine dozens of organizational ombuds offices across the United Kindgom...

April 17, 2008

Job Posting: Customs and Border Protection

The Department of Homeland Security is seeking applications for an Ombudsman (Program Manager) in the Customs and Border Protection Office of the Commissioner in Washington, DC. In many respects the position is an Organizational Ombuds (e.g.: "conduct informal inquiries and make attempts to successfully resolve internally-generated complaints, disputes, and disagreements regarding the application of CBP policies and procedures"). In addition, there is some required management input that may compromise neutrality (e.g.: "prepare or coordinate the preparation of papers and briefings to assure awareness and recommend solutions to especially difficult problems and issues of special interest to the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner"). Dispute resolution experience, US citizenship and a drug test are required; Ombuds experience is preferred. Salary range is $115,317-$149,000/year and applications are due by April 25. (FederalGovernmentJobs, Job Ann. No.: WAS-179829-TLW.)

April 15, 2008

Saginaw Valley State Ombuds to Retire

Dick Thompson, the University Ombuds for Saginaw Valley State University, will retire later this year. In his 38 year career with SVSU, Thomson previously served as the admissions representative, assistant registrar, registrar, director of admissions, and dean of students. (Valley Vanguard.)

IOA Presentation on Ombuds Evaluation

ICANN Ombuds Frank Fowlie and Pacifica Human Communications principal John Zinsser made a presentation at the IOA annual conference on "Evaluating Ombudsman Offices: How do You Know What You Know and a Value Model." The presentation is available on line. (ICANN Ombudsman Blog.)

April 14, 2008

Job Posting: MD Anderson

The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is accepting applications for an Ombuds to serve faculty, staff and trainees, including shift and off-site employees. A master's degree or equivalent in Conflict Management or related field, relevant ADR training and experience as an organizational Ombuds is required. A Ph.D., significant experience, and Spanish fluency and preferred. Salary ranges from $74,800 to $112,200 per year; No closing date indicated. (MD Anderson Jobs, Req. No.: mdac-00021770.)

April 13, 2008

Job Posting: Pace University

Pace University is seeking applications for a part-time Assistant/Associate Ombuds to handle concerns and complaints from the university community, track aggregated data and serve as a change consultant to the president and administration. Experience as an Ombuds or directly related ADR role and strong mediation skills/experience strongly preferred. Applicants should have at least a Master's degree and a terminal degree, such as a Ph.D., is preferred. No salary indicated; open until filled. (Careers@Pace job no. 0600272, via MNYSCHERC.)

Related posts: Pace Ombuds Office Profiled; Barkat Appointed U.N. Ombuds.

Journal of IOA Releases First Issue

Less than a year after being approved by the Board of Directors, the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association has become a reality. The new publication will focus on research and issues for and about the Ombuds profession with particular attention to organizational Ombuds and their concerns. The inaugural issue of JIOA includes three original, peer-reviewed articles:
  • "Comparing Apples to Apples: Development of the IOA Uniform Reporting Categories," by Beatriz Dale, David Miller and Tom Sebok;
  • "Scenario-Based Performance Assessment: Evaluating the Work of Ombuds," by Susan Kee-Young Park; and
  • "Shared Global Interest in Skillfully Applying IOA Standards of Practice," by Nancy Erbe and Tom Sebok.
The journal will feature regular summaries of recent research and legal developments. It is available only online. (JIOA.)

Prior post: New Ombuds Journal Calls for Articles.

April 10, 2008

Update: S&P Promises Ombuds by Year-End

Standard and Poor's has issued a progress report on its plans to enhance independence, strengthen the ratings process and increase transparency. These actions include establishing an Office of the Ombudsman. The financial services and publishing company says that it has begun a search for candidates and will appoint an Ombuds by the end of the year. (S&P Press Release.)

Prior post: S&P to Hire Ombuds.

If true, the search for candidates has been stealthy. The position hasn't been posted on any of the typical websites. A more public search would be consistent with the objective of transparency and be more likely to yield a qualified independent candidate.

April 09, 2008

Job Posting: Federal Student Aid

The FSA Office of the Ombudsman is accepting applications for a Program Specialist in its Washington-area office. The GS-9 to -11 position assists in the resolution of student loan borrower complaints and provides feedback for improving lending programs. Applicants must have a graduate degree or experience. Salary ranges from $48,108 to $75,669 per annum. Applications are due by Friday, April 11. (FederalGovernmentJobs.com, Job Announcement No.: FSA-2008-0127.)

April 08, 2008

Update: Loudoun Schools Ombuds Proposal Fails

The Loudoun County Public School Board has rejected a proposal to implement an Ombuds program to address parents' concerns. In spite of the vote, Tom Reed, an at-large member of the board and supporter of the plan, is seeking information about other school district Ombuds. (Loudoun Schools Dias.)

Prior post: Loudoun VA Public Schools to Consider Ombuds.

April 04, 2008

Getting the Most Out of a Conference

Lifehacker has a timely query for its readers: "How Do You Make Conferences Worth the Trip and Time?" The many responses may be valuable to anyone attending the IOA conference in Boston next week. A sample of early answers:
  • Network at the food table.
  • I bring my workout gear, my ipod, and a bunch of blank expense sheets.
  • At the very least, speak up during the question-and-answer portions of the program.
  • Approach others with the idea of helping THEM.
  • Follow up immediately after the conference.
  • At the event, make connections for others.

ICANN Ombuds Blogging from ABA Dispute Resolution Conference

Frank Fowlie, Ombuds for ICANN, is attending the ABA conference on dispute resolution in Seattle. His blog details sessions dealing with Online Dispute Resolution. (ICANN Ombudsman Blog.)

Book Review of Ask For It

Diane Levin, who publishes the Mediation Channel blog, has a review of Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want. This is a book full of advice for women in negotiation. But Levin points out that the book has broader significance:
What makes this book a must-read for men, too, and not just for women are its unpleasant revelations about the realities of hidden bias against women at the negotiation table. The authors exhort readers to take responsibility themselves for combating gender bias, not just that of others but particularly their own. They remind readers that all of us regardless of gender possess assumptions and unexamined beliefs about women in negotiation.

The techniques in this book are a valuable supplement to the negotiation coaching Ombuds provide to their visitors on a regular basis. Ombuds should read Levin's review and add the book to their collection. (Mediation Channel.)

Related post: Ombuds Libraries; Gender Differences in Negotiating; Why Some Men Negotiate Irrationally.

April 03, 2008

Job Posting: TSA

The Transportation Security Administration is taking applications for a Conflict Management Specialist in its Model Workplace Program Office in Arlington, VA. The position is responsible for developing and implementing an integrated conflict management program, and providing conflict management service, including intake and convening, coaching, facilitating interest-based problem solving, mediation and other related services. In addition, the position will coordinate, as appropriate, with other offices including the Office of the TSA Ombudsman. The salary ranges from $67,707 to $128,030. Applications are due by April 21. (USA Jobs, Announcement No. TSA-08-0614.)

April 01, 2008

U Penn Ombuds Issues Annual Report and Marks Retirement of Long-Time Associate

John C. Keene, the Ombudsman for the University of Pennsylvania, issued an annual report recapping the activities of his office for the 2006-2007 academic year. Employees and employment issues dominated, and the number of complaints dipped slightly to 192. The report also marked the retirement of Dr. Gulbun O’Connor, who served as the Associate Ombudsman for over 20 years. Keene said that O'Connor left an indelible mark on the office and "discharged her duties with remarkable intelligence, exceptional compassion, and profound insight into the beauties, the strengths, the ugliness, and the frailties of the human condition." (UPenn Almanac.)

Related post: Job Posting.