October 30, 2008

University of Texas El Paso Creating Hybrid Ombuds Position

UTEP is hiring an Assistant Dean of Students and Student Advocate with a muddled job description. The position manages of several student service departments "with core responsibilities such as the role of providing confidential and informal assistance to students with university-related issues." Despite the managerial and administrative duties, the applicant must The applicant must either be, or willing to be, an active member of "The Ombudsman Association, the University and College Ombuds Association, the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution, in order to stay on the leading edge of critical advocacy issues such as confidentiality, mediation and privilege." None of these organization are still in existence, having merged into either the International Ombudsman Association or the Association for Conflict Resolution. Moreover, the job seems to be inherently conflicted with formal and informal duties. The position pays $60,000-$60,456 per year; no closing date indicated. (UTEP Job Posting.)


  1. I am curious why you describe this as a hybrid ombuds. The institution doesn't use the word ombuds. It calls the position: Assistant Dean of Students and Student Advocate. The advocate is expected to be a member of professional associations including ombuds and dispute resolution associations (and the institution is definitely behind in naming these). But the position is clearly labelled assistant dean and advocate. As such it doesn't claim to follow ombuds standards. The IOA standards do not apply to student advocates, so why invoke the standards? Finally, I imagine there is nothing wrong in an advocate being a member of an ombuds association. I suppose they would qualify under some form of associate membership. Can you explain this post?

  2. Thanks for your comments.

    I would agree that organizations may choose to create positions that would only qualify for associate membership in IOA. It wasn't my intention to criticize that, if it is UTEP's objective. However, it's not clear to me that UTEP is looking for a traditional dean of students or student advocate since a significant part of the job is providing confidential and informal assistance. Together with the references to obsolete professional organizations, this creates a somewhat confusing picture. I thought it important to highlight for people who may consider this opportunity as a way of breaking into the Ombuds profession.

  3. ...and you're also right, Martine, that the position is not offered with an "Ombuds" title.