November 07, 2008

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Renames Student Ombuds Office

Because most students don't know the meaning of the word "Ombudsperson," UNL decided to rename the Office of Ombuds Services as the "Office for Student Assistance." Assistant vice chancellor and student Ombuds Tim Alvarez explained that, “The name ombudsperson just didn’t resonate with students.” According to Alvarez, the students simply found the term antiquated. The services provided by the newly renamed office are unchanged and remain confidential, impartial, independent, and informal. The webpage for the office has changed in name only. Meanwhile, the UNL Staff Ombuds office is keeping its name. (UNL Scarlet; UNL Office of Student Assistance; Archived UNL Ombuds Services; UNL Staff Ombuds.)

This development highlights a perennial problem for Organizational Ombuds: the name does not resonate with consumers. The "brand" is further diluted by the many variations on the word "Ombudsman," not to mention the differences with Classical Ombuds. If there was an easy solution, it surely would have been adopted. Until there is a clear consensus, Ombuds must be diligent about marketing their service.

Related post: UK Financial Ombudsman Service Debates Name Change.

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