August 29, 2011

PMA Offices Closed After Hurricane Irene

The New Jersey offices of Professional Management Associates, LLC, are closed today due a power outage. The staff that support the International Ombudsman Association cannot receive calls or emails. Serious emergency can be directed to IOA Communications Committee Co-Chair Samantha Levine-Finley. PMA hopes to be back online tomorrow and will provide updates as conditions change. (IOA News.)

Job Posting: University of California San Francisco

The new Office of the Ombuds at UCSF is hiring an Associate Mediation & Facilitation Officer. The position will provide group facilitation, training and mediation services for faculty, staff and students to address workplace conflict and communication problems.

Certification Board Appoints Three New Directors

Three new directors have been appointed to the Board of Certification for Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioners:

August 26, 2011

Job Posting: University of Alberta

The public research university in Edmonton is hiring an Undergraduate Ombudsperson (Student Advisor). The U of A Student OmbudService serves a student body of 38,000, staff and other campus members by providing advice and assistance relating to academic and non-academic grievances. The Ombudsperson is primarily involved in undergraduate student casework.

James Madison University Will Establish Ombuds for Faculty

The public university in Harrisonburg, VA has announced that it will appoint its first Faculty Ombudsperson. According to Interim Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Jerry Benson, the initiative began in the Faculty Senate several years ago. The new position will complement the existing Ombuds for student and staff issues by serving as a resource for faculty members.

Columbia University Updates Gender-Based Misconduct Policy; Ombuds Exempt from Reporting

The Ivy League university in New York has revised its student policy for gender misconduct. Columbia's Gender-Based Misconduct Policies for Students, published earlier this month, more clearly defines who must report alleged violations and specifically exempts the university's Ombuds Officers:

Washington State University Names Next Faculty Ombuds

WSU has named Cathryn (Cathy) Claussen to the post of Faculty Ombudsman, filling the vacancy left by Ray Jussaume. In accepting the appointment, Claussen withdrew as the newly elected chair of the WSU Faculty Senate for 2011-12. "The decision was a hard one, but I took the ombudsman position because it is a more long term opportunity to help faculty, staff and students,” Claussen said.

August 25, 2011

University of Lethbridge Appoints First Ombuds

The Faculty Association for the publicly research university in Alberta, Canada, has appointed Scott Allen as its first Ombuds Officer. Allen was elected at the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association's annual meeting on April 18, 2011 for a two year term. He will serve approximately 620 academic staff, including faculty, professional librarians, academic assistants, and lecturers. The Ombuds role is defined by Terms of Reference that require confidentiality, independence and informality.

University of Texas Medical Branch Names New Student Ombuds

The medical center in Galveston has appointed Gary Kesling, PhD, as its new University Student Services Ombudsperson. Kesling is a Clinical Associate Professor in the UTMB Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and has served as Director of the university's Student Counseling and Psychological Services. He succeeds Vince Loffredo in the position and will serve a student population of more than 2,500.

Job Posting: Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic Health System, one of the largest private medical centers in the world, is seeking applications for an Ombuds position in its Office of the Ombudsman. The position is similar to that of an Organizational Ombuds to the extent that it: identifies, evaluates and resolves patient complaints; Aggregates and analyzes complaint and satisfaction data; and Determines proactive recommendations and provides feedback of resolution to appropriate parties. However, the Ombuds also, "Conducts investigations for Law Department, negotiates settlements as instructed."

August 23, 2011

Conflict Resolution Symposium 2011 at Georgia State University

The annual event hosted by GSU's Office of the Ombudsperson is set for Thursday October 27, 2011. Emerging, seasoned and advanced conflict resolution practitioners and students will discuss significant trends, and meet and mentor emerging leaders. Registration is now open. (Conflict Resolution Symposium Info.)

August 22, 2011

Registration Opens for Fall 2011 Ombuds Certification Exam

The Board of Certification for Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioners will offer its next qualifying exam during October 17-22, 2011 computer testing centers across North America and at locations around the world. There are now 74 Ombuds with the CO-OP designation. The deadline to register is October 7, 2011. (IOA News.)

University of Arkansas Ombuds Posts 2010-11 Annual Report

Sue Theiss, the Director and Ombuds for UARK, reports that her office assisted with the resolution of 80 new cases in the last academic year. In addition, the University Ombuds Office offered 30 workshops and educational presentations to hundreds of students and employees regarding conflict management theory and practice. Theiss also made presentations on bullying to the wider community in Fayetteville. (UARK Ombuds Office Annual Report.)

Organization of News Ombudsmen Website Hacked

Jeffrey Dvorkin, executive director of ONO, reports that the website for the non-profit organization was vandalized over the weekend. Dvorkin tweeted twice on August 21 at 9:00 EDT:

August 18, 2011

Job Posting: Army Materiel Command

The primary provider of equipment and supplies to the U.S. Army is hiring a Command Ombudsman for its headquarters in Huntsville, AL. The position responds to issues from industry, the private sector, or internal government sources and informally facilitate resolutions through advocacy, persuasion, and mediation.

August 17, 2011

Stanley Sporkin Answers Questions About Ombuds

British Petroleum America apparently has not shut down its Ombuds office as threatened last summer. BP's Ombudsman Stanley Sporkin sat down recently for an interview with Corporate Secretary Magazine and talked about his work as an Ombuds and General Counsel for the CIA. Two of the five questions he answered were about Ombuds.

Profile of Jackson Community College's New Ombuds

The community college in southern Michigan has published a profile of Leigh Ann Swihart, who became its first Student Ombudsman earlier this year. “I’m here to help students have a better experience at JCC,” she said. Swihart said her office has already been a help to both students and the institution. Swihart has worked at the college since 2007 in a variety of roles, most recently in the registrar’s office, and she also coaches women’s volleyball.

Michigan State University Opens Search for Ombuds

MSU administrators will open a search to hire an Ombuds to replace Stan Soffin who ended his appointment this week. Soffin has been the University Ombudsman since 1998. Until the replacement is named, Assistant Ombudsman Sandra Harley will serve in the interim position. The university hopes to fill the position permanently by the start of next semester.

August 16, 2011

Universiti Sains Malaysia to Open Ombuds Office

Malaysia's leading university, which has its main campus in Penang, announced plans to establish an Ombudsman Office. According to news reports, the office would provide a platform for its academic staff and undergraduates to voice dissatisfaction on various issues with the public university. 

Kennesaw State University to Host Southeast Regional Facilitation Conference

The event will explore basic and advanced facilitation skills including on October 28-30, 2011. Kelly Alexander, the Ombudsperson at Georgia State University, is a featured speaker on the topic of "Facilitating Group Conflicts: Restoring Workplace Relations Using a Contemplative Process."

University of California San Francisco Ombuds Office Goes Online

The website for the new Office of the Ombuds at UCSF went online over the weekend. Features include information about the purpose and scope of services, ethical principals, services (mediation, conflict management and worklife assistance), and links to other campus resources.

August 15, 2011

Job Posting: American Red Cross

One of the world's premier non-profit organizations is hiring a full-time Associate Ombudsman to work in its Ombuds office. The position provides neutral, confidential, and informal dispute resolution assistance to the American Red Cross community, including employees and external stakeholders.

International Ombudsman Institute Will Hold 2012 Conference in New Zealand

The 10th IOI World Conference will be held in Wellington on November 13-16, 2012 hosted by New Zealand Office of the Ombudsmen. The event will provide Ombudsmen from around the world with the opportunity to meet, share their experience and engage in fruitful debate and discussion. IOI has launched a website for the conference which will be updated with details on the program, speakers and registration.

August 12, 2011

California Pharmacists Association Names First Ombuds

CPhA has hired Michael Kilpatrick to be the the professional association's first Ombudsman. The new Pharmacist Resource Program will provide employee pharmacists--many of whom work for grocery stores and other large retailers--with a free, confidential resource to help them deal with workplace challenges such as staffing practices, patient safety, and working conditions. Kilpatrick, who previously served as the Ombuds for Bridgepoint Education, has been hired by CPhA for a 1-year pilot program.

Corporate Ombuds Roundtable to Meet in Houston

MD Anderson in Houston, TX will host the 2011 Corporate Organizational Ombudsmen Roundtable on September 15 and 16. Planners promise a program full of valuable information and discussions aimed at strengthening Ombuds skills and improving corporate programs. MD Anderson’s VP of Business Affairs will offer remarks on ADR from an international, local and contractual lens. In addition, there will be discussions about creating and maintaining a positive Ombuds program.

August 11, 2011

Halliburton Ombuds Website Goes Public

The world's second largest oilfield services corporation and Fortune 100 company has created a external website for its Dispute Resolution Program. Halliburton's "DRP" practices according to the IOA standards of independence, neutrality and impartiality, confidentiality, and informality. In addition, the office promises employees, "honesty, dignity and privacy."  Additional details are available to employees with access to the Halliburton intranet.

Washington University in St. Louis to Consider Ombuds for Medical School

The top-ranked medical school has been exploring the possibility of creating an Ombuds Office for the past two years. In May 2011, the School of Medicine's Executive Committee of the Faculty Council unanimously approved an Ombuds job description. The proposal--which endorses an Ombuds for faculty, staff and students--will now be sent to the Executive Faculty in September.

Intercultural Conflict Course at Temple University, Japan

Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner Noriko Tada will teach an eight session course at Temple University's Japan Campus on "Conflict Resolution and Transformation." Using case examples from a variety of industries, the course will examine the causes of intercultural conflict and provide opportunities to practice resolution techniques. The course runs from September 20 through November 8. The registration deadline is September 12.

August 10, 2011

Registration Opens for 2011 Cal Caucus

The California Caucus of College & University Ombuds has posted the agenda and opened registration for its 39th annual meeting at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, CA. The event takes place November 6 through 9, and the theme is, “A New Day: 21st Century Social and Cultural Realities.” The tentative agenda features discussions on a wide range of issues:

Update: Southern University Confirms Closure of Ombuds Office

A letter from Interim Ombuds D.J. Baker confirms that Southern University and A&M College closed its Ombuds Office at the end of July. The letter does not explain why the office, which opened in November 2009 and sought job applicants last fall, was closed:

August 09, 2011

Free Webinar on Role of Ombuds in Health Care

The next monthly webinar hosted by is on Health Care Collaboration and Conflict Resolution. The guest speaker will be Laurie Miller Patterson, the Employee Ombuds for Akron General Health System since 2005. "In this webinar, Laurie will share the kinds of conflicts that emerge within the health care setting, challenges and accomplishments she has faced in the role thus far, and why she feels an ombuds has the perfect role for supporting collaboration and addressing health care conflicts."

August 08, 2011

Budget Cuts Prompt Reduction in Ombuds Service at UC Santa Cruz

The University of California campus that overlooks Monterey Bay will cut back its Ombuds program by 60%.  The move is prompted by on-going budget concerns affecting all of the UC system.  According to an announcement from UCSC Human Resources:

University of North Carolina Wilmington to Offer Course in Ombudsmanship

The fifth campus in the UNC system has added an Ombuds course to its certificate program in Conflict Management and Resolution. The 18-unit graduate, semi-distance program is open to professionals, practitioners and students. Although there are several experience Organizational Ombuds in North Carolina, the instructor's name has not yet been published.

United States Ombudsman Association Opens Registration for 32nd Annual Conference

The national organization for public sector Ombudsmen is accepting registrations for its 2011 meeting in Jacksonville, FL October 24-28, 2011. The conference theme is: "The Ombudsman: The Bridge to Conflict Resolution, Accountability, and Transparency."

August 05, 2011

Internship: National Institutes of Health

The NIH Office of the Ombudsman / Center for Cooperative Resolution in Bethesda, MD is offering two full-time internships: one in January-March 2012 and the other in March-June 2012. (Exact start and end dates are negotiable.) Under the supervision of an NIH mentor, the interns will focus on one major project and will observe and assist with individual consultation sessions; mediation processes; group facilitation; conflict resolution system development and assessment; conflict-related research; and trend identification based on aggregate data.

August 04, 2011

Chair of House Financial Services Committee Seeks Changes to Proposed SEC Ombuds Office

Representative Spencer Bachus (R-Ala) is proposing to restructure the Securities and Exchange Commission and modify some of the provision of the Dodd-Frank Act. One of the planned changes would realign the SEC Ombudsman to be more independent. According to a summary published by AdvisorOne:

August 03, 2011

ICANN Appoints Kiwi Attorney to be Its Next Ombuds

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has named Chris LaHatte to be its new Ombudsman. LeHatte is an experienced mediator and lawyer from New Zealand and has also practiced in Taiwan and Central Asia. He qualified as a lawyer from the University of Auckland and earned a Masters Degree in Dispute Resolution from Massey University. In addition, he is a Fellow of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand, a mediator for the New Zealand Law Society on cost issues and a construction law adjudicator. (ICANN Blog; Legal Rambling.)

Portland Ombudsman Moves to Portland State University

Michael Mills, the Ombudsman for the City of Portland, Oregon for the past decade, has accepted a new position at Portland State University. Mills will be a project manager for Oregon Consensus, a PSU School of Government program that helps policymakers resolve complex disputes. As the Portland Ombudsman, Mills investigated complaints about city services and made recommendations for improvements. Mills opened the IOA annual conference in April 2011. (Oregon Live.)

August 02, 2011

Job (Re-)Posting: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

The non-profit corporation responsible for assigning Internet addresses and top-level domains, has re-opened its search for an experienced Executive Ombudsman. The job requirements have not changed significantly since the search was first opened in November 2010.

Portland Realtors Adopt Ombuds Program

The Portland (Oregon) Metropolitan Association of Realtors has implemented a Ombudsman process to handle concerns related to real estate practices, transaction details, ethical practices and enforcement issues. The PMAR Ombuds program will follow the National Association of Realtors and is administered by PMAR's Dispute Resolution Services Manager, Susan Schneider. (PMAR Ombuds.)

August 01, 2011

Job Posting: Kaiser Permanente San Francisco

KP is hiring a full-time Health Care Ombuds/Mediator for their facility in San Francisco, CA. The Kaiser HCOM, "functions as a trained alternative dispute professional offering patients, family members, staff & providers a conflict management program to resolve patient/provider healthcare disputes early thereby improving patient safety & reducing the costs of health care dispute resolution."

ABA Offers Materials for 2011 Mediation Week

The American Bar Association has posted a toolkit for the 2011 Mediation Week, which takes place October 16-22. The materials are designed for practitioners, organizations and bar associations and include sample talking points, presentations, videos and handouts. Ombuds, especially those who coordinate mediation programs, will find the toolkit relevant to their work. The week corresponds with ACR's annual Conflict Resolution Day, which is on October 20 this year. (ABA Mediation Week; ACR Conflict Resolution Day.