Here are the top three Ombuds stories of 2011.
3. The Promise of Dodd-Frank Begins to Yield Opportunities for Ombuds -- In 2010, sweeping financial reform legislation promised to create incentives and specific Ombuds programs, and politicians and lawyers voiced their support. The Dodd-Frank Act paid off with two high profile programs, one in the private sector: Pfizer; and one in the public sector, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
2. University of Iowa Ombuds Becomes a Lightening Rod for Bullying Issues -- The UI Ombuds have been outspoken on issues of civility and bullying, so it was a shock when an Associate Press story said the campus Ombuds Office had been “failing” to resolve bullying complaints. The AP report omitted details about the UI Ombuds’ work over the years and presented only a review of a small number of cases produced in response to a public records request. The current UI Ombuds did not address the matter, but fortunately the past Ombuds and the University president spoke out in support. The situation will no doubt be discussed by within the profession for many years.
1. Record Numbers of New Ombuds Offices Opened Their Doors -- On balance, it was a banner year for the Organizational Ombuds profession. The closure of five offices was more than offset by a record number of more than 30 new programs. The closed offices included: Ashford University; Portland State University; Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and Southern University.
On the other hand, new offices opened at: Kidsports; California Pharmacists Association; Jackson Community College; University of Cape Town; Florida International University; Ivy Tech Community College; Board of Realtors, Fort Collins, CO; Bauhaus-Universität Weimar; Northeastern University; California State University San Marcos; Prince George's County, MD Public Schools; Katimavik; Lake Superior State University; University of California San Francisco; Texas Southern University; University of Texas (Staff); Portland, OR Metropolitan Association of Realtors; University of Lethbridge; Universiti Sains Malaysia; North Georgia College & State University; Medical College of Wisconsin; Pennsylvania State University, College of Education; Palo Alto University; Minnesota Department of Transportation; Oakland, MI County Circuit Court; Goethe University; University of KwaZulu-Natal; University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee; Oregon State University; American University in Cairo; and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.