After nearly a dozen years, Pace University has decided to close its Ombuds Office effective June 18, 2009. For 11 years, the office was headed by John Barkat, who became the United Nations Ombudsman. Since his departure, Pat Barnes has been the Interim University Ombuds. William J. McGrath, the Chief Administrative Officer assured the campus that the important work of the Pace Ombuds Office would be continued through other resources, including employee relations, dean of students, and the affirmative action office. (Pace News.)
Related posts: Pace Ombuds Office Profiled; Barkat Appointed U.N. Ombuds; Pace University Appoints Interim Ombuds.
John W. Zinsser said...
The continuing trend of OO offfice being closed is troubling.
The letter offered to the PACE community by William J. McGrath is worth reading in its entirety. (It is available here.)
The letter positions the Chief Administrative Officer of this University as seeing both the process and contribution of the OO as obtainable by via other mechanisms. That is, the ombuds office had no unique contribution nor defining value proposition - at least as far as this letter goes.
Anyone knowing John Barkat can be absolutely certain that no stone was left unturned to make clear to Pace the difference between processes deployed by the OO and other functions. Yet, today, the administration of this University is unable to say the Ombuds Office's processes or outcomes are defensible and valuable in the current climate.
Unfortunately this is not a unique event. Offices are being closed, with increasing frequency - including programs of "historical significance" (CalTech), and those formerly led by some of the very finest practitioners (Pace).
In spite of these "signs on the wall," most programs are not prepared to make a compelling argument as to WHAT they offer their institutions so as to be essential and a "must have."
I ask you to think carefully, not just about how you do your work, but, about what makes you of need to your institution?
What distinguishes you?
What is your unique proposition? Both in terms of process and outcomes what will make those who contribute to, grant to you, your authorizing environment, say "We HAVE to have the ombuds!"
Respectfully, and with best wishes for the people of Pace, who as of the close of this program, will be without something unique, useful, and valuable - whether they know it or not.