March 01, 2016

University of British Columbia Okanagan Shutters Ombuds Office

According to a student newspaper, UBCO has closed the Ombuds Office it opened three years ago.  The university recently opened a search for a new Ombuds to replace Maria Mazzotta who established the position in 2013. Although the Ombuds office had handled nearly 150 matters in the past two year and had positive feedback from students, the decision to closed the office was made for financial reasons. 

“At the outset, the UBC admin wasn’t sure that the [Ombudsperson] position required a full time staff person. At other campuses similar to our needs and size, the ombudsperson role is something taken on by usually a professor or longtime faculty person who knows and is familiar with all University channels,” said UBC Students' Union President Tom Macauley. It therefore seems likely that there will be an Ombuds of some sort in the future. (UBCO Phoenix.)

Related posts: University of British Columbia Names First Ombuds for StudentsJob Posting; University of British Columbia Appoints First Ombuds for Okanagan; Job Posting.

Update 3/11/16: Mazzotta has already moved on to a corporate non-Ombuds position. (Merritt Herald.)


  1. Very disappointing news!

  2. It therefore seems likely that there will be an Ombuds of some sort in the future.
    This is an echo of another SU voice at another campus in Canada. The writing is on the wall as PSE budgets shrink in Canada and Ombuds move to the 'nice to have category' to 'Ombuds like services provided by ________ an already paid faculty member thus not increasing the budget'.. Its coming on campuses everywhere within 5 years.

  3. I wish to offer some clarification on the nature of the closure of the Office of the Ombudsperson for Students at UBC’s Okanagan campus and the suspension of a search to replace the incumbent Ombuds Officer.

    The Ombuds Officer position at UBC Okanagan was established in 2013 through a partnership between the University and the UBC Students’ Union Okanagan. The partnership was requested by the UBCSUO and mirrored a similar arrangement established by the Alma Mater Society students’ union at UBC Vancouver, where the AMS levies a small per-student ombuds fee.

    The Ombuds Officer position at UBC Okanagan has not been suspended as a result of any reduction in funding by the University. Rather, the board of directors of the student union chose to end its support for the position without discussion between the partners or consultation. The university remains committed to providing ombuds services in partnership with our students.
    Deborah Buszard Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal UBC

    1. Thank you very much for the clarification and additional details.

  4. Thanks for the clarification. This was similar to the restructuring of an Ombuds office at another Canadian University. A move spearheaded by the SU, without consultation. Perhaps rather than a crises, it is an opportunity.

  5. It is, for lack of better words, a curse resulted from the funding structure. While it is true that splitting the bill furthers senses of neutrality, participation, and buy-in on the students' side, it also means that the office is more susceptible to regime changes in the student union, not to mention more politics.

    I, too, appreciate Ms. Buszard's clarification.