The University Ombuds Program is now nearly fully implemented with one notable exception. Since January of 2015, I have endeavored to work with the administration to finalize the Ombuds Program Charter. The charter documents and memorializes the University’s commitment to the independence, confidentiality, and neutrality of its ombuds program. Virtually all university ombuds programs include such a document and benchmarks are readily available for comparison to the draft that I have developed for the University of Oregon. I would urge the University Senate and larger campus community to be zealous in its insistence that the Ombuds Program function to a fully endorsed charter, as the charter is critical to formalizing the ground rules and working commitments to your ombuds program. The existence of a charter will help your Ombuds Program weather transitions in administrations and boards and protects your Ombudsperson from retaliation for bringing uncomfortable truths to the attention of your administration.
I would also urge the university community to be actively engaged in the screening and selection process for your new lead ombudsperson. Having served in both the position of a large agency general counsel and a large organizations ombuds, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the role of the ombudsperson in a large complex campus is no less critical than that of your General Counsel. The ability to identify potential issues and to effectively place them on the screen of campus administration is a major element of the program’s value. Thus, I urge you to place great energy into identifying a successor to the position with the skills-set appropriate to the challenges and of the gravitas to be effective and influential.(UO Matters.)
If you aren't a University Ombuds, comments on the post offer a glimpse into the intrigue of higher-ed politics and rumor.
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