May 27, 2010

Five Long Days With a Hospital Ombuds

The latest Werner Institute Newsletter offers a glimpse into the life of an Ombuds working at a major medical center. Creighton University grad student Mike Miller spent five days shadowing Laurie Patterson, the Ombuds for Akron General Hospital.

May 26, 2010

Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution Offers Second Annual Training Program

The ADR center at the University of Texas at Austin will offer its annual skills enrichment institute on July 28-30.  "Innovations in Collaboration and Conflict Resolution" includes one- and two-day tracks featuring prominent trainers.

May 25, 2010

The Story of a Suicide -- An Ombuds' Worst Case Scenario

The University of Washington Daily has a profile of a former UW employee who took his own life in 2008.

It is every Ombuds' fear.

May 24, 2010

Job Posting: University of Minnesota Twin Cities

The public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul is hiring a full-time Assistant Ombudsman. Applicants must have at a bachelor's degree and five years of professional experience. Preference will be given to applicants with experience as an organizational Ombuds, familiarity with UM, and a master's degree.

Job Posting: Office of Personnel Management

OPM is hiring a Staff Assistant to the Director of the Executive Secretariat and Ombudsman in Washington, DC. In some respects, the position seems to be administrative and managerial. On the other hand, many duties resemble those of an Organizational Ombuds:

May 21, 2010

Update: UT Austin Staff Council Submits Recommendation for Ombuds

At a meeting yesterday, the Staff Council at the University of Texas Austin overwhelmingly approved a "Report to the President on Grievance and Ombudsperson." The report lays out the reasons why the university needs an Ombuds for its 14,000 staff and presents five staffing options for the office, including start up and operating costs.

Complaint of USA Swimming Officials to be Heard by Olympic Ombuds

The complaint of two veteran swimming officials, who have alleged retaliation by their sport's governing body, will go first to the U.S. Olympic Committee's Ombudsman. 

May 20, 2010

Job Posting: Inter-American Development Bank

The international NGO is hiring a Project Ombudsperson to lead a new program to address complaints from parties that allege that they are or might be adversely affected by IADB operations. The position is a full-time bank employee, reporting directly to the Board of Executive Directors.

Two Organizational Ombuds Launch Blogs


Bathabile Mthombeni, the Associate Ombuds at Columbia University, has launched a new blog. Mthombeni has posted six times over the past two months and has offered a range of advice for people in conflict. (123Untangle.)




Wendy Friede, the former Corporate Ombudsperson for American Express, has also started blogging. She takes a similar approach to offering conflict advice from a personal perspective. (Friede Blog.)

International Association for Conflict Management Convenes in Boston Next Month

IACM will hold its 23rd annual conference at the Boston Marriott Cambridge Kendall Square on June 24-27. The association of scholars and practitioners will offer a number of presentations of research papers that would be interesting for Organizational Ombuds, including:

May 19, 2010

UC Santa Cruz Ombuds Intervenes in Student Protest

Last week, more than 100 University of California, Santa Cruz students occupied a campus library in protest of ongoing and projected library budget cuts. On May 12, UCSC's Ombuds, Laurie McCann, offered to facilitate a dialogue with the protesters. About 25 students accepted and spent two hours discussing the issues with University Librarian Virginia Steel.

Ohio State Renews Faculty Ombuds Appointment

The Ohio State University Board of Trustees has approved the reappointment of Jack A. Rall as Faculty Ombuds, effective Oct. 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011. Rall, a professor and vice chair of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, became OSU's first Ombuds for faculty earlier this year. (OSU Newsroom.)

Guide to Cognitive Biases

Ombuds frequently deal with conflicts that are the direct result of cognitive bias--the psychological tendencies that cause the human brain to draw incorrect conclusions.  Cognitive biases drive people up the ladder of inference and Ombuds are a voice of reason talking them back down.  Ombuds who do not have a background in cognitive science or psychology deal with cognitive bias problems intuitively. To the rescue comes a beautiful overview from the Royal Society of Account Planning.

May 18, 2010

Duke Reappoints Faculty Ombuds

The Academic Council at Duke University has recommended the reappointment of Jeffrey Dawson, for another two-year term as faculty Ombuds. Dawson, an emeritus professor of immunology and associate dean for basic medical science curriculum in the School of Medicine, was appointed in 2008. His reappoinment has been endorsed by Duke's President, Richard H. Brodhead. (Duke Academic Council memo.)

Mindmap of Mediation Models

Bill Warters, Wayne State University Professor and publisher of the Campus-adr Blog, has developed a mindmap depicting the different models of mediation being used on college campuses. Inasmuch as Ombuds (in all areas, not just higher education) often work with a variety of mediation models, the online tool is a useful summary.

May 17, 2010

Washington University in St. Louis to Create Ombuds for Faculty

WU Provost Ed Macias has promised to create an Ombuds for faculty. The commitment comes in response to a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Women Faculty that was included in a report on diversity at the nonsectarian, private research university.

Psychologist Urges Ombuds as Buffer for Student Athletes

In the face of growing recognition of the long-lasting damage caused by bad coaching behavior and language, psychologist Jeffrey Miller says student athletes should have access to an Ombuds. Miller, who works extensively with adolescents, says that teens suffer when coaches fail to model acceptable adult behavior. "Because of the inherent power differential and the fact that the adolescent already feels unsupported and unfairly dealt with, this is a formula for further distress and disempowerment," he said.

May 14, 2010

IOI Newsletter Highlights Membership Growth and Leadership Changes

The March newsletter from the International Ombudsman Institute leads with a letter from its President William Angrick. With his impeding retirement from the position of Iowa Citizens' Aide/Ombudsman, Angrick will become ineligible and will be succeeded by IOI's Vice President, Mats Melin. Melin, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden, will serve until the next IOI Board meeting in October 2010.

ABA Dispute Resolution Writing Competition

The American Bar Association has issued a call for submissions and judges for its Dispute Resolution Section Writing Competition for law students.

May 13, 2010

Friday Poll: Do You Publish an Annual Report?

Some, but not all Ombuds publish annual reports. Do you? If so, what gets included?

Edinboro University Settles Lawsuit Against Ombuds and Other Administrators

The public liberal arts university in Pennsylvania has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former student. In his federal lawsuit, Cameron Aulner, a 2009 graduate of Edinboro had alleged that William Chandler, a Communication and Media Studies professor had made suggestive comments in class and asked him on a date in 2008. Aulner alleged in his lawsuit that the university failed to take action despite his complaints to the Ombuds and other administrators. Edinboro reportedly paid $495,000 in the settlement.

ENOHE Newsletter Previews Conference

The latest newsletter from the European Network for Ombudsmen in Higher Education highlights the conference next week in Vienna. The ENOHE annual conference is being co-hosted by the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons and focuses on the objectives shared by various types of Ombuds working in higher education.

May 12, 2010

Job Posting: University of Louisville

The University of Louisville is hiring its first, permanent Ombuds. The 80%-time appointment assists faculty and staff (including graduate and research teaching assistants) with non-academic issues and concerns.

British and Irish Ombuds to Meet This Week in Wales

The annual meeting of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association will be held at the National Museum of Wales on May 13 and 14, 2010. The Dinner will be held in the evening, and the following morning the Annual Meeting will address the business of BIOA. Workshops and presentations will explore the topic of ‘learning from complainants.’ (BIOA Newsletter.)

May 11, 2010

University of Arkansas Posts Annual Report for Ombuds Office

Sue Theiss, Director of the UArk Ombuds Office, reports that her office assisted in the resolution of 83 new cases in the 2008-09 academic year through early, informal, and non-adversarial resolution practices involving at least 163 individuals. While the number of new cases dropped slightly from last year, the primary constituents served increased 28% due to more group facilitations and more long term, complex cases involving several parties.

Royal Roads University has an Ombuds Placeholder

Apparently, Ombuds offices are so commonplace at Canadian universities, that Royal Roads feels the need to have an Ombuds webpage even though the university does not have offer the service.

May 10, 2010

Ombuds for Tyco Electronics Serves Internal and External Stakeholders

The global electronics supplier, which separated from Tyco International in 2007, has unveiled a website for its Ombudsman Office.  According to the webpage which went live this week, the office handles "concerns from external constituencies - investors, suppliers and customers - as well as Tyco Electronics employees."  The Ombuds program is confidential, neutral and independent, reporting directly to the Audit Committee of the Tyco Electronics' Board of Directors. The Ombuds Office offers telephone numbers in the U.S., France, Belgium and China. (Tyco Electronics Ombuds.)

Interview With Colorado State University Ombuds

An article in the CSU campus newsletter profiles Lanai Greenhalgh, LCWS, the Director of the Office of the Ombuds and Employee Assistance Program for the public university in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Greenhalgh is a member of IOA and provides confidential, neutral, informal and independent services to nearly 4,400 employees.

May 07, 2010

University of Victoria Ombuds Posts 2009 Annual Report

Martine Conway, Ombuds for the University of Victoria in British Columbia, reports that her office handled 412 matters last year. Conway said that while the overall number of contacts with the office was similar to previous years, she saw an increase in situations requiring extensive guidance or intervention because they presented multiple challenges (for example: chronic illness, personal or financial difficulties and cultural differences exacerbating communication or procedural breakdowns).

Navy Reserve Ombuds Hold First National Conference

Nearly 200 Ombuds participated in the first National Navy Reserve Ombudsman Conference last weekend. The two-day conference Orlando, Florida was designed to provide in-depth, Reserve-specific training and appreciation to the dedicated Navy volunteers.

May 06, 2010

Eighth Annual Midwest Meeting of University & College Ombuds

Tim Griffin and Northern Illinois University will host the 8th Annual Summer Meeting for University and College Ombudspersons on July 12. The meeting is preceded by an all-day workshop for new academic Ombuds on July 11.

Australian and New Zealand Ombuds Convene in Wellington

The Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association will hold its biennial conference in the Kiwi capital on May 6 and 7. The conference theme, "It's the 'Putting Right' That Counts," reflects the focus on the changing landscape for consumer dispute resolution in New Zealand.

May 05, 2010

San Jose State's Ombuds Reports Strong Demand

Demerris Brooks, who was hired as the Ombudsperson for California's San Jose State University in August 2008, reports that she has already handled more than 300 student cases in current academic year. Most of these have been resolved informally.

Society of Corporate Compliance & Ethics Sets Program on Organizational Ombuds

The nonprofit membership association for organizational ethics and compliance officers, will offer a program on June 3, 2010: "Extending the Reach of Your Compliance Program: How an Organizational Ombudsman Can Be A valuable Supplement to Compliance."

May 04, 2010

Columbia Offers Ombuds Course Again

For a second year in a row, Columbia University's School of Continuing Education will offer "Fundamentals of Ombuds Practice" as one of the courses for a Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.

Job Posting: Food and Drug Administration

The Department Of Health And Human Services agency is hiring a Conflict Prevention and Resolution Specialist for its headquarters in Rockville, MD. Although the position is not titled as an Ombuds, job duties are very similar and include:

May 03, 2010

BP Ombuds Could Draw Scrutiny in Gulf Oil Spill Investigation

Truthout, the nonprofit progressive news site, is reporting that a former British Petroleum contractor claims the oil conglomerate ignored complaints he made to the company's Ombuds office. The whistleblower claims that BP broke federal laws and violated its own internal procedures by failing to maintain crucial safety and engineering documents related to deepwater production projects in the Gulf of Mexico.

Eastern Carolina University, Please Don't Call it an Ombuds Office

The public university in Greenville North Carolina has had an "Office of Ombudsman" since at least 2005.  However, it is indistinguishable from the Dean of Students Office in most respects.  For example the ECU Ombuds authorizes exceptions to the student alcohol policy and provides excuses for student absences due to university activities. 

May 02, 2010

Texas Ombuds Will Meet May 12

The Ombuds of Texas will hold its next meeting in Austin at the LCRA Dalchau Service Center. Elisa Hendricks, Ombudsman and Cindy Fortress, Program Specialist, Office of the Ombudsman, Texas Health and Human Services Commission will introduce themselves and provide an overview of their program.