August 27, 2012

Penn State Faculty Weigh New Ombuds as Part of Response to Athletic Sanctions

At a meeting tomorrow afternoon, the Penn State Faculty Senate will consider whether to challenge the sanctions imposed by the NCAA and the Big Ten related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.  The senate feels that its was ignored when the sanctions were quickly imposed.  As part of the proposal to seek reconsideration by the NCAA, the senate will also take up several other issues, including the creation of new Ombuds program.

Read more here:

Here is how the Ombuds issue is framed:
QUESTION 7. Should the Senate secure funding for and authorization of a new faculty position, an Ombudsman for the Senate, who would have power to monitor all university matters including athletic programs and who would report solely to the Faculty Senate?
When issues are raised or reports given by the Ombudsman to the Senate, the Senate would meet and decide in what ways to work with PSU administrators and the Board of Trustees to follow up on the Ombudsman's information. The Ombudsman for the Senate would add an important and independent layer of monitoring, compatible with other changes underway at PSU, to help insure appropriate procedures and actions on child abuse and rape issues and student-athlete eligibility and all other issues of institutional ethics, planning, and monitoring.
Penn State currently has an Ombuds network for faculty issues headed by University Ombudsperson Deborah F. Atwater.  (PSU Senate Council Appendix re Discussion of the NCAA and Big 10 Sanctions, Extended Statement and Forensic Questions; Centre Daily Times.)

1 comment:

  1. This from the "Faculty Voice", My Thoughts on the Questions Posed for the Senate Forensic Discussion on the NCAA and Big 10 Sanctions

    Question 7: The idea of an ombudsperson may be a good one. The focus on monitoring and engagement is equally important. The Senate already engages in a substantial amount of monitoring; perhaps it needs to re focus some of those efforts to better cover emerging areas of importance. A discussion of those areas and the ways of improving monitoring might be useful. On the other hand, the idea of adding a Senate ombudsperson may present substantially more challenges. It adds a layer of engagement where non may be necessary and might complicate rather than simplify communication within the Senate and between the Senate and administrative officials. It may duplicate effort without adding substance. It is possible, then, that such a function may be unnecessary. Indeed, that might be the case if the Senate were assured that it would be permitted to engage directly and independently with university compliance and ethics officers, as well as with whatever athletics compliance committees or mechanisms are established pursuit to the consent decree or otherwise. I would rather ensure that the university compliance officer, risk management officials, general counsel and ethics officer can speak openly and candidly with relevant Senate standing committees in furtherance of their work than to add an additional layer of official whose authority would be ambiguous. My cautions suggest only that there may be a lot of work that might be undertaken to make a good case for this type of position, and it may be worth consideration by the Senate Self-Study Committee