January 21, 2021

Ohio State Appoints First Ombuds for Grad Students

Rebeka Campos-Astorkiza will become the first Ombudsperson for nearly 14,000 graduate and professional students at The Ohio State University on February 1, 2021. Currently, the university has Ombuds programs only for faculty and medical students. According to an announcement from the provost, "Campos-Astorkiza will address issues related to fairness and challenges that graduate and professional students may face with their faculty advisors or within their programs. This position was created in collaboration with university faculty and graduate and professional students in response to the need for extended support."

January 20, 2021

Southern Oregon University Selects Next Ombuds

Cody Christopherson, an Associate Professor of Psychology, has been appointed the next Faculty Ombuds for the public, liberal arts university in Ashland. He follows Dominick Robertson, who served as the Ombuds for two years.

Frances Gates Rhodes: Former Ombuds at Texas A&M International University

Last week, TAMIU announced the passing of longtime professor and former Faculty Ombuds, Frances Gates Rhodes, from complications of COVID-19. Rhodes was a member of the faculty for 38 years as an Associate Professor of English, former chair, and senior lecturer. She established the Faculty Ombuds position in 2011 and served until her retirement from the university in May 2020. TAMIU President Pablo Arenaz said, “Dr. Rhodes, or as most of us better knew her, ‘Panchita,’ was a beloved faculty member here. She was a passionate advocate for her discipline, for her students, for her colleagues and for this university.” (TAMIU News.)

Central Connecticut State University Appoints Interim Ombuds

Joseph Paige has stepped in to serve as the Interim Ombudsperson for the a public university in New Britain. He continues to serve as CCSU's Associate Vice President Academic Affairs. Paige succeeds Antonio Garcia Lozada, Professor of Modern Languages, who established the office in 2005. The CCSU Ombuds serves about 15,000 faculty, staff, and students following IOA standards. (CCSU Ombuds.)

January 18, 2021

Long-time Harvard Ombuds Retires

Lydia Cummings, who established the Ombudsman Office for the main campus at Harvard University in 2003, retired on January 31, 2020. Cummings worked at Harvard for four decades, including positions in Financial Administration and Labor and Employee Relations. For now, the campus will be served by what has been the medical campus Ombuds Office (which was created in 1991). (Harvard Ombudsman.)

World Health Organization Ombuds Posts Report from Pandemic Year

At the end of a year dominated by a world pandemic, WHO Ombudsman, José Martínez-Aragón, released his annual report. The report describes the activities of the WHO Ombuds program; outlines the most relevant systemic issues identified last year; and follows up on the administration’s response to the recommendations made in previous reports. The report will be considered by the WHO Executive Board at its regular meeting this week.

January 14, 2021

Joomla Board to Vote on "Massive" Overhaul of Ombuds Program

Open Source Matters, Inc., has called a special members meeting to amend its bylaws, primarily to bring its Ombuds program in line with IOA standards. Open Source Matters is a not-for-profit that administers Joomla, one of the leading open-source content management system for the internet. For the past two years, Joomla has had a poorly defined, Executive Ombuds program. It appears that this is likely to change soon.

Syracuse Ombuds Publishes First Annual Report

Neal Powless, who became the first permanent University Ombuds at Syracuse in January 2019, has released his first annual report. During the 2019-20 academic year, Powless handled 255 cases, made 73 presentations, and facilitated 18 conversations. Meanwhile, he pivoted his work to be entirely virtual. His report include five observations of trends impacting the campus. (Syracuse Ombuds 2020 Report.)

January 13, 2021

University of Kansas Taps Ombuds to Lead Diversity Efforts

University Ombuds DA Graham will serve as Interim Vice Provost for KU's recently restructured Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. The university's Faculty Ombuds, Ada Emmett, will step up to fill Graham's role as Interim Ombuds. It is not clear how long this arrangement will last.

Here's more from the formal announcement to the campus:

Ombuds for Federal Contract Compliance Programs Posts First Report

Marcus Stergio, who was appointed the first Ombudsman for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in August 2019, has published his first annual report. In addition to summarizing his work setting up the office, Stergio reports that he handled 128 cases in 2019-20. The full report is now available online. (OFCCP Ombuds 2020 Report.)

January 12, 2021

Pomona College Ombuds Retires

Conchita Serri, who established the Ombuds Office at the small, liberal arts college in 2012 has retired. Many employees accepted the college's offer of early retirement prompted by pandemic-related financial stress. Pomona has made no announcements about the future of its Ombuds program. (Pomona College Ombuds.)

Podcast Interview with Ombudsman for UN Funds and Programmes

Podcaster İdil Elveriş recently interviewed Giuseppe De Palo about his work with as Deputy Ombudsman for United Nations Funds and Programmes. His office serves stakeholders worldwide working with UN Development Program, UN Population Fund, UN Childrens Fund, UN Office for Project Services, and UN Women. He traces the history and relationships of the various UN Ombuds programs, and compares different types of Ombuds.

January 08, 2021

Job Posting: Raiffeisen Bank International

Raiffeisen Bankengruppe, the international financial institution and Austria's largest banking cooperative, is hiring its first Corporate Ombudsperson. Based in Vienna, the position will "provide confidential and informal assistance to RBI Group’s staff ... as a neutral, independent, impartial, off the record and confidential resource" and reports directly to the Head of Division People & Organizational Innovation. 

Job Posting: Los Alamos National Laboratory

The U.S. Department of Energy laboratory near Santa Fe, New Mexico, has opened a search for its next Ombuds Office Director. The position manages the LANL Ombuds Office, which provides services to about 10,000 people following IOA standards. ;The search will fill a position that has been held by Mary Beth Stevens. The office also includes Senior Associate Ombudsman Elisa Enriquez and Associate Ombudsman Evelyn Martinez.

Job Posting: U.S. Board of Veterans' Appeals

The administrative tribunal within the Department of Veterans Affairs is hiring a Program Specialist Ombudsman. The full-time position serves as the lead principal advisor and designated neutral party for dispute resolution and conflict management within the Board. The job is based in Washington, DC and some travel is required, but it is also eligible for telework. The position has existed since at least 2016 (according to ACUS), but little information is publicly available.