November 08, 2018

Kavli IPMU Designates an Ombuds

The Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, an international research institute affiliated with the University of Tokyo, has named Mark Vagins as its first Organizational Ombudsman. In a recent announcement to Kavli IPMU members, Institute Director Hitoshi Murayama said that the new Ombuds would help address internal conflicts and concerns:

We take pride of the informal and interactive atmosphere of our institute where we share our scientific ideas freely.  At the same time, I’m afraid it can sometimes be a source of potential conflict or tension for scientific activities.  I don’t want to see a situation where somebody might feel his/her idea was “stolen”, not matter how unintentional it might be.  I don’t want to see personality issues within the institute.  I don’t want to see problems with the author list of any papers.  We all need to be fair to each other.  Basically, I want the whole institute to be one happy family scientifically.
Given this, I propose to install an organizational ombudsman.  (I realized that such a system can be helpful when I was re-reading the "SDSS-IV Principles of Operation” in astronomy.)  * * * 
An ombudsman would listen to your concerns in absolute confidence.  He/she will remain neutral to the issues.  Only when the situation is grave enough to require an institutional action, and only if you agree to it, he/she will inform the director of the issue and try to mediate the tension or conflict.
Fortunately, Mark Vagins, our professor with a plenty of experience working in large groups, agreed to be an organizational ombudsman.
Vagins is the first first full-time foreign professor at Kavli and is also a professor at UC Irvine. He graduated from Caltech and earned his PhD at Yale University. (Kavli IPMU Director's Message; LinkedIn.)

Related posts: German White Paper on Scientific Practices has Fostered University Ombuds ProgramsNational Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Endorses Ombuds for Higher Ed's Sexual Harassment Problem.

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