November 30, 2011

Relocation of Ombuds at University of Western Ontario Raises Concerns

Administrators at UWO are displacing the Office of the Ombudsperson to make room for another program and moving the office to another, smaller space nearby. Jennifer Meister, the Ombudsperson, told the OWO Gazette that the move could compromise her ability to accommodate visitors. “The [new] offices end up being nine feet by nine feet. Once you get furniture in there, it’s difficult to meet with a group of students, or with a student and a parent or with anyone in a wheelchair in that small a space,” Meister explained.

Lee Preston: Former University of Maryland Ombuds

The former Ombudsman for Faculty and Staff at the University of Maryland, Lee E. Preston passed away on November 22, 2011. Preston served as the Ombuds from 2004 until 2010 after he retired from his faculty position in 1998. Preston had academic distinguished career after earning a PhD in economics from Harvard: he was the author or co-author of about 200 publications on management. A memorial service is planned for December 4 in College Park. (Smith School News.)

University of Texas Faculty Ombuds Caseload Eases

Mary Steinhardt, the Faculty Ombudsperson at UT Austin, says that she assisted 48 faculty members in 2010-11, down from 58 in the prior year. In addition, she began serving visitors holding postdoctoral fellowship appointments and assisted two in this category.

November 29, 2011

University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Opens Ombuds Office

The newest campus in the USF system has established an Office of the Student Ombudsman. Judith Sedgeman serves as the first Ombuds for a student body of 4,500. According to its website, the USF Sarasota-Manatee Ombuds "is accountable to the Regional Chancellor and serves as an alternate resource for students complementing existing channels of information and support."

Iowa State University Ombuds Posts Report for 2011

Elaine Newell, Ombuds Officer for ISU, says that the caseload for her office declined slightly one year after the campus struggled with layoffs and reorganizations. The total number of cases in the 2011 fiscal year declined 23% to 79. Professional and Scientific employees again were the most frequent visitors to the Ombuds Office this year, but also there was an increase in the number of faculty visitors.

November 28, 2011

IOA Offers Ombuds Training in Santiago


The International Ombudsman Association will offer its signature training for Organizational Ombuds in conjunction with the United Nations in Santiago, Chile on January 15-18, 2012.  The offerings will include the 2½-day Ombuds 101 and a specialized course.

FINRA Offers Spring 2012 Externship

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is offering an unpaid externship in its Rockville, MD office. The extern will work with FINRA Ombuds staff in the spring 2012 semester for 15-20 hours per week.

ICANN Ombuds Explains a Non-confidential Mediation

Chris LaHatte, the Ombudsman for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, blogs about a recent mediation that was not confidential. He acknowledges that, while most mediations are confidential, the parties in this particular case wanted the mediation recorded so it would be available for review.

November 25, 2011

University of KwaZulu-Natal Opens First Ombuds Office

The top-tier South African university has created an Organizational Ombuds office and appointed former SA Chief Justice Pius Nkonzo Langa as the first Ombud. According to its terms of reference, the UKZN Ombuds Office serves more than 40,000 students, staff and academic staff. UKNZ is home to the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association, which is primiarily composed of Classical Ombuds, but the Ombuds Office explicitly practices to IOA standards for Organizational Ombuds.

Association of Ombudsmen and Mediators of La Francophonie Elects New Leader

Senegalese Ombudsman, Serigne Diop, has been elected to lead the association for meditors and Ombuds in French-speaking countries. The announcement was made at the AOMF conference in Luxembourg on Wednesday. Diop is a professor of Constitutional law and a former Senegalese minister and he was elected unanimously. (Afrique en Ligne.)

Connecticut Law Tribune: Ombuds Offer Option for Whistleblowers


The latest article by Chuck Howard appears in the Connecticut Law Tribune.  Howard explains that Organizational Ombuds offer significant benefits for potential whistleblowers.

November 23, 2011

Job Posting: Coca-Cola Refreshments

The American multinational beverage corporation is hiring a full-time Ombudsman. The position provides a wide range of professional support to the office, including working with associates to develop options for resolving problems, identifying organizational systemic issues that are causing conflict, and participating in mediation sessions in California and Canada.

November 22, 2011

Goethe University Creates Ombuds for Doctoral Issues

The Graduate Academy of the leading German university has appointed Henner B├╝sching as its first Ombudperson for doctoral students and supervisors. The position "acts as a confidential advisor and mediator to whom doctoral students and their supervisors can turn to in case of conflicts surrounding their doctoral projects."

Northern Illinois University Ombuds Posts Annual Report

Tim D. Griffin, University Ombudsman at NIU, reports that his office provided advice and assistance to 1,025 individuals during the year ended May 15, 2011. Griffin said that, "The number of people contacting the Office of the Ombudsman over the past year for assistance regarding matters related to class instruction was considerably higher than the prior year." The majority of visitors were students (71%), but the office was also consulted by faculty (10%), staff (10%), and family members (6%).

November 21, 2011

Algoma University Reappoints Ombuds

Cheryl Henshaw has been reappointed the Ombudsperson for Algoma University. Henshaw opened the Ombuds Office for the undergraduate university in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario last summer. She previously served as the Ombuds for the University of Windsor. (Algoma Staff.)

Michigan County Court Launches Pilot Ombuds Program

The Oakland County Circuit Court has appointed an Ombudsman to serve as a liaison between the judiciary and local attorneys for a six month trial period. Joel H. Serlin, an attorney with "a stellar reputation as a lawyer, mediator and arbitrator" will serve as the Ombuds. He will seek to address and facilitate issues and concerns raised by attorneys regarding active matters before the court.

Ombuds of Texas Posts Details of Mentoring Program

Earlier this year, the regional, multidisciplinary Ombuds group launched a mentoring program to match for developing Ombuds with experienced practitioners. The OOT website now provides details of how the program works. It is the organization's desire that the mentor and mentee both grow personally and professionally as a result of participating in the OOT Mentoring Program.

November 18, 2011

Minnesota Department of Transportation Creates Ombuds for Employees

Mn/DOT has appointed Wendy Friede as its first-ever Employee Ombudsman. In her role as employee ombudsman, Friede will serve as a complement to department’s current formal resources, rather than a competitor or duplicate. “If you know where to go and feel comfortable going there, go directly there,” Friede said. “If you’re not comfortable with those resources and want someone to talk to, the employee ombudsman is an option for you.

Texas Tech Ombuds Uses Facebook to Reach Campus

The Ombuds Office at the Texas Tech University launched a Facebook page at the end of October 2011. The page provides information about the office and periodic reminders of important campus dates. A recent update stressed that the Facebook page is strictly informational and that the office strives to uphold IOA's Standards of Practice. (TTU Ombuds Facebook.)

November 17, 2011

Job Re-Posting: Internal Revenue Service

The IRS has reopened its search for a Director for its Proactive Resolution and Ed Division, a new program that will engage in conflict prevention outside of the EEO complaint and union grievance processes. In addition to overseeing several dispute resolution processes, the position will serve as the Organizational Ombudsman for IRS personnel.

Palo Alto University Names First Ombuds

The San Francisco-Bay area school of psychology has appointed Rev. Byron Bland as its first University Chaplain and Ombuds. According to a university press release, "Drawing from his lifelong experiences as a minister and peace and conflict mediator, the Reverend will serve the University community’s religious, spiritual, moral and ethical needs." The university enrolls about 600 undergraduate and graduate students.

Interview With San Jose State University Ombuds

SJSU University Ombudsman Demerris Brooks was interviewed for her campus newspaper this week. Her office has served the California State University campus since the late 1960's. Brooks explains that, “If a student has an issue and they aren’t sure what their rights are or what the rules are, then I am the place they would come to discuss that.” Since the beginning of the 2009-10 school year, she has provided consultation for 44 faculty complaints, 46 issues with department policies, 40 enrollment disputes and 49 grade disputes. (Spartan Daily.)

November 16, 2011

AllianceBernstein Appoints Ombuds

The global investment management firm in New York has hired attorney Sana A. Manjeshwar as its next Ombudsman. Previously, Manjeshwar worked as a labor and employment attorney for the law firms of Wilson Elser and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, and a human resources manager. She earned a BA in Psychology from McGill University and a JD from Fordham University School of Law. The appointment was effective in September. (AllianceBernstein; LinkedIn.)

Yale President Rejects Proposal for Ombuds Office

Yale University President Richard Levin has rejected a campus climate committee's recommendation to create a university-wide Organizational Ombuds program. In a report issued September 15, 2011, an Advisory Committee on Campus Climate endorsed the creation of an Ombuds as one of several steps to address sexual harassment, violence and other misconduct. Although Levin agreed to implement several recommendations, he said that Yale would not create an Ombuds. (Yale Daily News; Report of the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate; Response from the President to the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate.)

Medical College of Wisconsin Ombuds Office Debuts Website

Peter Layde, the newly appointed Ombudsman for the private medical and graduate school in Milwaukee has unveiled a website for his office. The site explains the ethical tenets of the office and provides many links to conflict and Ombuds-related resources. (MCW Ombuds.)

November 15, 2011

Association for Conflict Resolution Offers Overview of Ombuds Field

The Chicago Chapter of ACR will present a program on "What Is Ombuds and What Do They Do" at DePaul University on November 30. Speakers on the panel reflect the diversity of Ombuds practice and will include: Rev. Craig B. Mousin, University Ombudsperson, DePaul University; Irving Capitel, Ombudsperson, Better Business Bureau; Bernard Cobbins, Ombudsman, Chicago Department of Family & Social Services; and Ron Bacci, Ombudsman, Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve.

Huffington Post Blogger Calls for NCAA Ombuds

Eric Schmeltzer, a political and communications consultant, argues that the National Collegiate Athletic Association should establish an independent investigative body to to monitor all of its member schools. The editorial was prompted by the recent allegations that a Penn State Football coach sexually assaulted minors, but also references other college sports scandals. Schmeltzer envisions a Ombuds program with investigatory powers similar to the Ontario Ombudsman:

Medical University of South Carolina to Create Ombuds Program

The small private medical school in Charleston is seeking candidates for the position of Ombuds for faculty and post-doctoral fellows. The new, 25% appointment will serve a two-year trial period. MUSC is considering current or retired faculty members and the new Ombuds will start on January 1, 2012. (MUSC News; Senate Minutes.)

November 14, 2011

New York State Ombuds for Developmentally Disabled Routinely Breached Whistleblowers' Confidentiality

The NY Times is reporting that the Ombudsman for the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities has been revealing the names of whisleblowers. The state agency that oversees thousands of group homes advertises that its Ombuds are required by law, “receive and keep confidential any complaint” from parents, advocates and anyone else, including state employees. However, agency officials now concede that their internal policy has for years been to encourage Ombuds to turn over the names of whistleblower employees when they report abuse or neglect.

November 11, 2011

UMass Dartmouth Ombuds Celebrates Conflict Resolution Day With Special Guests

On October 20, 2011, the Office of the Ombudsperson at UMass Dartmouth sponsored its first National Conflict Resolution Day event with a keynote address, "Difficult Times, Difficult Conversations...An Ombuds Perspective" by Toni Robinson, Ombudsperson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Melissa Brodrick, the Harvard Medical School Ombuds, presented a workshop for campus leaders on "Managing Conflict in the Workplace," a video of which is available online.

November 10, 2011

University of British Columbia Ombuds Faces Funding Shortfall

Since it was established in 2009, the UBC Ombuds Office has been funded jointly by the university, the Graduate Student Society and the student society, AMS. Despite a verbal agreement to provide funding for the current academic year and as it has for the past three years, AMS is facing a budget deficit and says it cannot make any contributions for the 2011-12 year. The AMS president is in negotiations with the university to ensure the the UBC Ombuds Office continues to operate as an independent resource. One possible solution may come through an AMS funding referendum next January.

Northern Arizona University Ombuds Reports a Three-Year Uptick in Cases

Phoebe Morgan, program coordinator for Northern Arizona University’s Faculty Ombuds Program reports that requests for direct assistance increased for the third consecutive year. The number for the 2010-11 academic year was 162% higher than reported in the Program’s first year, 2007-08. Interpersonal disputes with students, staff and administrators continued to be the primary reason why faculty members contacted the Faculty Ombuds Office. 

Update: More Materials from Silicon Valley Program on Corporate Ombuds

The Corporate Governance site at CorpGov.net has posted a summary of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors meeting on October 20, 2011 that featured Pat Gnazzo, Chuck Howard, and Jon McBride.

November 09, 2011

Ombuds Blog Turns Five

I began publishing this blog five years ago today.  Since then, I've posted over 2,300 articles related to Organizational Ombuds.  The site now draws almost 17,000 page views a month.  In addition, 275 readers get nightly email updates and 207 follow on Twitter.  Selected items are also reposted on ADRhub.  Thanks for all your support.

November 04, 2011

Job Posting: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

The FDIC is hiring an Ombudsman Specialist to work in Arlington, VA. The position responds to customer inquiries received by the FDIC Office of the Ombudsman, which serves as an independent, neutral, and confidential resource and liaison for the banking industry and the general public.

Upgraded Website for Forum of Canadian Ombudsman

FCO has unveiled a beautiful and improved website. New features include links to members’ websites and other Ombuds associations, and a new logo. The site also promises to post "Standards of Practice and Ethics."  All of the materials are available in French and English.  (FCO Welcome Page.)

November 03, 2011

IOA Announces Webinar Series on Workplace Bullying

The International Ombudsman Association has announced its first webinar series. The four-part program will focus on bullying in the workplace and builds on a recent edition of the Journal of IOA that focused on the topic of bullying. Expert speakers come from several disciplines and organizations, and each of the programs qualify for Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner continuing education hours.

UK Office of the Independent Adjudicator Gathering Input on Campus Ombuds

The independent body that handles student complaints against universities in England and Wales, has opened an inquiry into conflict resolution systems. The "Pathway 3 Consultation" seeks input from across the higher education sector and includes consideration of campus Ombuds programs.

SVNACD Interview with Chuck Howard: The Corporate Ombudsman: A Strategy To Detect and Stop Corporate Wrongdoing"

The Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors has posted a conversation between Dan Siciliano, Associate Dean, Stanford Law School, and Chuck Howard, author of “The Organizational Ombudsman: Origins, Roles and Operations — A Legal Guide.” Howard explains why Ombuds are an important supplement to formal corporate structures, especially whisleblower programs. (SVNACD Video Podcast.)

Ombuds Program Set to Launch in New Mexico

Bruce MacAllister says that he has been working with "a large professional organization in Albuquerque to help them design a new Ombudsman program that will serve as a resource to help both members of the public and members of the professional organization find information and support and resolve conflicts and issues of concern."

November 02, 2011

University of Colorado Denver Ombuds Sees 45% Jump in Cases

In its eleventh annual report, the CU Denver Ombuds Office said it saw 525 people in the year ended June 2011, a significant increase from about 362 in the prior year. Moreover, an increase in the number of systemic issues brought to the office meant that visitors required more than the typical one to three visits.

November 01, 2011

Job Posting: Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco

KP is hiring a full-time Health Care Ombuds/Mediator for its facility in South 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."

Journal of Public Integrity Publishes Article on Ombuds

The latest issue of the journal published by Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (an executive branch entity composed of all American Inspectors General) features an article on the benefits of an Organizational Ombuds program in a governmental setting.