April 30, 2009

Gerry Hays: Former Sandia Ombuds

Gerry Hays, who served as an Ombuds for Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico from 2004 to 2007, passed away on April 25, 2009. He worked at Sandia National Laboratories for his entire professional career, primarily as a research scientist and research manager specializing in plasma physics. (Albuquerque Journal.)

April 29, 2009

Summer Meeting and New Ombuds Workshop at NIU

The Northern Illinois University Office of the Ombudsman will host the 7th Annual Summer Meeting for University and College Ombudspersons on July 13 in DeKalb, IL. The morning session will include opening sessions such as “Listening Skills for Ombudspersons” and “Avoiding Ombuds Burn-Out.” The afternoon will include case-study breakout sessions, general discussion, and evaluation. For an additional cost, new academic Ombuds can attend an all-day workshop on Sunday, July 12. Workshop topics will include history of the profession, professional ethics and standards of practice, marketing the office, working with consultees, appropriate record-keeping, addressing trends and patterns of problematic behavior, and relationships with other campus entities. (NIU Ombuds Office and Summer Meeting Info.)

Related posts:
NIU Ombuds Reflects on Campus Tragedy; Midwest Meeting of University & College Ombuds.

Ombuds to be Featured at International Education Conference

The Association of International Educators 2009 Annual Conference and Expo holds in Los Angeles, May 24-29, convenes leaders to discuss the global environment of higher education. On May 29, Jenna E. Brown, Ombuds at the University of Denver, and Josef Leidenfrost, Austrian Student Ombudsman and and co-founder of the European Network for Ombudsmen in Higher Education will present a concurrent session. “Friend or Foe: The European and American Ombudsman in Higher Education” will provide information about Ombuds in higher education on both sides of the Atlantic, and explore ways in which professionals in the international education arena can use this resource or similar resources on campus. (NAFSA Conf Info; Ombuds Session Details.)

Related posts: ENOHE Annual Conference in Germany; ENOHE Latest Newsletter.

Whitworth University Rejects Call for Ombuds

An ad hoc task force that studied gender issues at the private Christian liberal arts college in Spokane, Washington, has recommended a strategic plan to address subtle sexism on the campus. The study recommended appointing an ombudsperson to help people deal with conflict or go to when actions were perceived as hurtful as well as developing training/workshops dealing with conflict. Vice President Dale Soden said the school has chosen not to create that position specifically at this time. (The Whitworthian.)

April 28, 2009

Trustee Gives Good Marks to Montreal Schools Ombuds

Sue Huff, a trustee for Edmonton Public Schools, blogs about Patrick Robardet’s first report as the Commission scolaire de Montreal Ombudsman (actually his second annual summary). Huff says she was impressed by the report card: “Stats and results were measurable and the recommendations he brought forward to improve District communication and decrease conflict were unanimously adopted by the Board. He was quite stunned to see this level of agreement.” (Sue Huff's Blog; CSDM Ombuds Reports.)

Related post: Montreal Creates Schools Ombuds.

Update: ICANN Board Approves Ombuds Protocol

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers Board of Directors has ratified the the operational guidelines for the Office of the Ombudsman. The approved document soon will be translated into five languages. (ICANN Ombuds Blog.)

Prior post: ICANN Opens Comment Period for Ombuds Protocol.

NIH Ombuds Addresses the Complexities of Race-Related Conflict

Drawing on his decade of experience as the Ombuds for the National Institutes of Health, Howard Gadlin writes about how mediation can address race-related workplace conflicts in this month's Dispute Resolution Magazine. Gadlin offers two related ways EEO mediation can respond to the complexities of racial discrimination complaints: (1) as a conflict resolution process by which race-related conflicts and individual complaints of discrimination can be voiced and settled; and (2) as a process suited to exposing the dynamics (including the power dynamics) of interracial tensions and conflicts and creating a basis for improving the work relationship between disputing parties of different races. Nonetheless, he is concerned that EEO ADR processes have failed to improve the racial climate of feral agencies. Gadlin therefore believes that, “we must find some way to transform the structure and process whereby EEO cases in the federal government are brought to mediation.” (Dispute Resolution Magazine.)

Related post: Perspective on Ethical Standards for Federal Mediators and Ombuds.

April 27, 2009

Ombuds Training in Malibu

The IOA Ombudsman 101 course is being offered at Pepperdine University June 11-13, 2009. The 2½-day program provides basic information and training for the Organizational Ombudsman by emphasizing the principles of confidentiality, neutrality, independence, and informality. This is the first time the 101 course has been offered in conjunction with a university. The cost before May 1 is $1,095. (Pepperdine 101 Registration Info.)

University of Victoria Ombuds Issues Annual Report

Martine Conway, Ombuds for UVic, reports that her office handled 427 matters in 2008. In addition to extensive recommendations for systemic change, the report also features a photo from the 30 year anniversary of the office. (UVic Ombuds Report.)

Related post: University of Victoria Ombuds Office Marks 30 Years.

Additional Joint Conference Materials (Updated)

FCO President and Ontario Ombudsman André Marin's opening remarks and welcome are posted in full. (Ombudsman Ontario.)

François Boileau, French Language Services Commissioner, promises his perspective on sessions. (FLSC Commissioner's Blog.)

Gareth Jones, Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, who presented the session on
“Whistleblowers: Thank You and Good-bye,” has a brand new book that will interest Ombuds. “Conducting Administrative, Oversight & Ombudsman Investigations” was published this week. (Canada Law Book.)

D.A. Graham has posted lots of pictures and video from the conference. Some are embarrassing. (Facebook.)

“Using the Third Party” by ICANN Ombudsman Frank Fowlie, John Zinsser, Managing Principal of Pacifica Human Communications LLC, and Shellee Warnes, Associate Director of the Strauss Institute at Pepperdine University. (Powerpoint Presentation via ICANN Ombudsman Blog.)

Check back for updates.

April 26, 2009

New Ombuds Program at Ontario College of Art & Design

Last week, the OCAD Students Union introduced its first Ombudsperson, Jody Nyasha Warner. Prior to her appointment, Warner was a reference librarian at nearby York University. She has a longstanding interest in, and commitment to, antiracist and anti-oppression politics. Warner co-founded the Race Equity Caucus for librarians and faculty at York, and has served on the board for the Centre for the Study of Black Cultures in Canada. She has written on the cultural importance of academic libraries, and also authored a children’s book, Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged, which will be published this summer. (OCADSU Ombuds; Warner Bio.)

University of South Carolina Starts Visitor Survey

Following through on his promise to survey visitors to his office, USC Ombuds Jim Augustine has implemented an on-line tool to measure visitor satisfaction. The webpage promises, “There is no way to identify who submits feedback through this mechanism.” (USC Ombuds Survey.)

Related post: University of South Carolina Ombuds Publishes Annual Review; Central Washington University Surveys Ombuds Users.

April 24, 2009

Facebook Group Parodies Ombuds

An new group on Facebook spoofs Ombuds and on-line dispute resolution programs. Here are highlights of the Facebook Ombudsman Service:
  • It’s our job to help settle individual disputes between various annoyed parties who are at high risk of poking each other into oblivion or something much worse that cannot be spoken of on this page especially if your mental age means that you cannot watch movies like Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • We can consider complaints about a wide range of subjects from excessive poking to dealing with those annoying taggers. Each year we deal with half a million enquiries and settle 100,000,000 disputes.
  • Don't expect us to be independent or impartial – we're up for sale to the highest bidder.
  • We are not a regulator ("watchdog") or a trade body or a consumer champion. Our role is to stick our oar in, play devil's advocate and hopefully finish up with a completely unfair ruling. We believe that it would just be pansy to give both sides a 'fair hearing', I mean where's the fun in that, eh?
  • We can often resolve disputes informally, but some cases are more complex and take more time. On average, we settle most disputes within six to nine years. If we are feeling particularly lax...ahem, sorry... if we are particularly busy it could take up to twenty years.
  • Facebook users do have to accept any decision we make. We are judge and jury - so there! All decisions are binding both on them and on everyone affected. No seriously now... our decisions are not binding upon any of the parties involved, however, if you choose not to abide by them we will send around the heavies...
  • Our service is confidential - we do not publish the names of the complainants whose complaints we handle.... unless they are particularly juicy in which case, we will forward all details to everyone on our friends list.

The unofficial group already has 139 members. (Facebook Ombudsman Service.)

Ombuds of Texas to Meet May 13

The Ombuds of Texas will convene on May 13 at a new location, the LCRA Redbud Center in Austin. The program will feature presentations by Mary Thompson of Corder & Thompson and S. Arjumand Mubaarak of the US Office of the Independent Ombudsman. The group will also continue work on governance issues. (OOT Meeting Agenda.)

US News Ranks Top ADR Grad Programs

The always controversial rankings by US News & World Report are out. Within the law schools, the magazine rates the top ten programs in dispute resolution:
  1. Pepperdine (Straus)
  2. Missouri
  3. Harvard
  4. Hamline
  5. Ohio State
  6. Marquette
  7. Oregon and Yeshiva University (Cardoza) - tie
  8. UNLV
  9. Fordham
Of these programs, only Pepperdine offers Ombuds courses. On the other hand, Pepperdine closed its Ombuds office this year. Missouri, Harvard, Hamline, Marquette, Oregon, and UNLV all have campus Ombuds programs. (US News via ADR Prof Blog.)

Related post: Pepperdine Law School Revives Ombuds Course.

April 23, 2009

New Ombuds at York University Defends Impartiality

York Federation of Students president Krisna Saravanamuttu called the recent appointment of John McCamus as University Ombuds “highly problematic,” and said it represents the lack of impartiality within the administration. Saravnamuttu questioned McCamus’s ability to be impartial given his current employment as a part-time faculty member at York. McCamus insisted there is no need for concern. “I’m not dependent on York for my livelihood. I continue to teach part-time because I enjoy teaching so much, but I’m quite independent in terms of my welfare. I’m quite independent of York University, and I would have no trouble offering appropriate criticism if I felt it was appropriate,” he said. (Excalibur Online.)

The student’s concerns are not unique and stem simply from a misunderstanding of the structure and function of an Ombuds office. Indeed, all Ombuds offices are vulnerable to such criticism, but that hasn't deterred hundreds of organizations. More significantly, the situation underscores the need for Ombuds to continually educate the organization to dispel suspicion.

Related post: York University Names New Head of Reformed Ombuds Office.

Profile of George Mason University Ombuds

Dolores Gomez-Moran is the subject of an article in GMU’s campus newspaper. She became the first Ombuds when Mason established the in 1999. Initially, the office handled only for academic issues. In 2007, Gomez-Mason’ responsibility was expanded to cover nonacademic issues as well. She compares her work to assembling a puzzle. “Sometimes I start the puzzle by doing the border first, and other times I have to start with the interior, but at the end, all the pieces have to click,” she said. Gomez-Moran has a master's degree in counseling psychology from Boston College and a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Oviedo in Spain. (Mason Gazette.)

April 22, 2009

American University of Kuwait Unveils Ombuds Program

The private liberal arts institution in Kuwait City has established on Ombuds for students. According to the AUK website:
The role of the Ombudsman is to provide students with an independent, confidential unbiased and impartial perspective, and provide guidance and information on fair processes, policies, and rights. Topics may include academic challenges, interpersonal conflicts, harassment, and policy clarification. The Ombudsman serves as a source of information for students, guides them to appropriate personnel, and assists students with interpreting University policies and procedures as well as on-campus resources.

Joanne Hands, Director of the Student Success Center, currently serves as the AUK Ombuds. (
AUK Ombuds Webpage.)

Jackson Hole Hospital Creating Ombuds Office

The trustees of St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, unanimously agreed to begin the process of hiring an Ombuds to improve communication among hospital staff, administrators, trustees and patients. Trustees will require that the Ombuds maintain strict confidentiality in communications; be an excellent listener, communicator and negotiator; and have experience in conflict resolution. (Jackson Hole Daily.)

If implemented, this would become the first Organizational Ombuds program in Wyoming.

University of Nevada, Reno Ombuds Issues First Annual Report

Pamela Haney, who established the UNR Ombuds Office in April 2007, has published the first annual report on the activities of her office. (There was a prior report summarizing the establishment and first nine months of the program.) Haney reports that she consulted with 94 visitors in 2008 and that most concerns regarded academic faculty related issues. The report relies on the IOA Visitor Issue Categories Guide to summarize data. (UNR Ombuds Home.)

Related posts: Profile of New Ombuds at University of Nevada, Reno.

Los Angeles Appoints Interim County Ombuds

Full post at the Southern California Ombuds Blog.

April 21, 2009

Interview of McDonald’s Ombuds

As vice president and national ombudsman for McDonald’s USA, Ron Hawkins, works to resolve issues with franchisees and employees. In the past five years, none of the cases he has handled have resulted in litigation. A life-long employee of the company, he describes the position as being an independent, internal third party. Hawkins says his ability to resolve conflict is based on trust and explains:
You build credibility by building trust, and you build trust by doing the right thing. It’s not who’s right, it’s what’s right. And it’s not what’s done, but how it’s done.

Although McDonald’s created the Ombuds program in 1976, there is almost no information publicly available. Hawkins was named a 2008 Professional of the Year by Strathmore’s for his achievements in Mediation and Conflict Resolution. (Nation’s Restaurant News; Strathmore’s Who’s Who.)

Related post: International Franchise Association Touts Ombuds Program.

April 20, 2009

Job Posting: Newark Public Schools

New Jersey's largest school district has reopened the search for its first Ombuds and enlisted the help of professional search firm. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, at least three years experience in education administration and conflict resolution, and the ability to build a functioning Ombuds program. No closing date or salary provided. (Career Builder.)

Prior post: Newark Public Schools Hiring First Ombuds.

Job Posting: University of Texas

UT Austin is hiring a part-time graduate assistant Ombuds. The position typically has a one-year duration and is open only to incoming and currently enrolled students. Training will be provided. Salary is negotiable and the applications will be accepted until the position is filled. (UT Assistant Ombuds Application.)

Related post: University of Texas Ombuds Office Celebrates 40 Years.

FDIC Ombuds Reports Strong Growth in Visitor Traffic

In his biennial update to the banking industry, FDIC Ombudsman Cottrell L. Webster reported that 643 bankers contacted his office requesting assistance in thesecond half of 2008. For the year as a whole, the FDIC Ombuds Office consulted with 1150 individuals, a 31% increase from the year before. In addition, FDIC Ombuds staff spoke about banking matters with 65 financial industry representatives through outreach visits, telephone calls and industry-sponsored conferences. (Message FDIC Ombuds; FDIC Ombuds Reports.)

April 18, 2009

Seeking Leverage, Minnesota Students Reveal Work with Ombuds

In an attempt to draw attention to their protest against alleged departmental racism, anonymous dance students at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities have written an open letter to the Provost detailing their efforts to find a resolution. The group claims it has shared specific instances of unethical behavior by the administration with a campus Ombudsman. The anonymous students are offering to communicate with the Provost via email, with a comment on their dedicated blog, or through the Ombuds. (This By Us Blog, City Pages.)

Related posts: University of Minnesota Recommends Faculty Ombuds; IOA Board Elects Officers.

Montreal Irony

As Ombuds finished their five-day conference and prepared to return to their organizations ready to make peace and provide resolution, Montreal was being inundated by fans of mixed martial arts for a UFC twin match. (Globe and Mail.)

It's pretty easy to tell the two groups apart.

Related post: Also in St. Louis This Week...

April 17, 2009

FCO Selects New Board and Officers

The Forum of Canadian Ombudsman has elected the following officers:
  • President - Ian Darling
  • Vice-President - Kevin Fenwick
  • Secretary - Justine Sentenne
  • Treasurer - Laura Bruneau.
The rest of the FCO Board consists of:
  • Suzanne Belson
  • Laura Bradbury
  • Nora Farrell
  • Howard Sapers
  • Doug Melville
Related post: FCO President Will Not Stand for Reelection.

Blogging From the Joint Conference

Anyone with information or materials related to the Joint Conference in Montreal may send an email or add comments to this post.

Thanks to everyone who has participated so far.

April 16, 2009

IOA Board Elects Officers

The newly elected IOA Board of Directors meet during the Joint Ombuds Conference in Montreal and elected officers for the 2009-2010 term:
  • President - Gary Yamashita
  • Vice President - Jennifer Wolf
  • Treasurer - Wayne Blair
  • Assistant Treasurer - Janet Morse
  • Secretary - Tom Kosakowski
Related post: Election Results for IOA Board.

Linguist Finds "Ombuds" Usage Shifting Slowly

Over at the Language Log, a notable linguist concludes that the usage of Ombudsman and its alternatives vary widely and is in a state of flux. In general, Arnold M. Zwicky, a Visiting Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at Ohio State University, finds that American educational and research institutions have shifted heavily to Ombuds Office in place of Ombudsman's Office. Dictionaries, however, do not reflect this change. He personally finds Ombuds "on the bizarre side, but still interpretable," believes that "after a decade or so it will seem unremarkable." (Language Log.)

April 15, 2009

Keith Smith: Stanford Medical Center Ombuds

Keith Smith, who was appointed Ombudsman for the Stanford University School of Medicine less than a year ago, died Tuesday in Washington, D.C., at the age of 59. Although new to the Ombuds profession, Smith was well-known on the Stanford campus, having worked there in various employee relations positions since 1977. (Stanford News Service.)

Update 4/17/09: Smith was en route to the Joint Conference.

Related post: Profile of Stanford Med Center Ombuds.

April 14, 2009

Joint Conference Starts in Montréal

The Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons, The Forum of Canadian Ombudsman, and The International Ombudsman Association convene this week in commemoration of the bicentennial of the Ombuds profession for “Evolution of the Ombudsman [1809-2009]: A Rich History, A Promising Future.” Events get underway with Pre-Conference training sessions on Tuesday. Conference sessions will take place Wednesday through Saturday. In addition, FCO and IOA will hold board and business meetings. Here’s a recap of related stories:

April 13, 2009

Ombuds Help Hospitals Meet Joint Commission Standards

An article in a leading healthcare industry magazine explains that hospitals should consider creating an Ombuds program to comply with a newly-enacted requirement to manage conflict -- Joint Commission standard LD.02.04.01. Among other things, the conflict management process must include: Identifying the conflict as early as possible by meeting with involved parties; Gathering information about the conflict; Working with involved parties to manage or resolve the conflict; and Ensuring the quality and safety of patient care.

Laurie Patterson, Ombuds at the Akron General Medical Center, believes that hospitals continue to rely on HR processes for short-term dispute resolution. Rosalind Cresswell, an Ombuds at North Shore Medical Center in Salem, explains that HR processes do not provide the best tools for conflict. Ombuds, on the other hand, “give people the off-the record freedom to work through difficult situations,” says Patterson. Without this confidential, informal avenue, many healthcare workers will develop avoid conflict through elaborate workarounds that can lead to stress and burnout. In addition to compliance issues, consultant John Zinsser says that Ombuds programs can provide hospitals with substantial savings by reducing employee-initiated lawsuits. (Medical Staff Briefing [sub. req.])

Affluent More Likely to Use Ombuds Services

According to the Amsterdam Ombudsman (a Classical Ombuds), residents of high-income districts file more complaints on average than residents of poorer districts. Although there were some exceptions, the correlation between income and complaints was found to be statistically significant. Results were published in the Amsterdam Ombuds annual report. (Nieuws uit Amsterdam.)

I would expect that this observation reflects the general race and wealth disparity in access to conflict resources. (This disparity is widely studied with respect to legal services.) Ombuds are aware of this phenomenon and are societal agents to remedy the inequity.

April 12, 2009

University of Washington Appoints Ombuds

The UW Faculty Senate Executive Committee confirmed the selection of Susan Neff as University Ombudsman on February 23, 2009. Neff received both her B.S. and Masters in Education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She has served as Interim University Ombudsman for UW since January 2008. Prior to that she served as Assistant Ombudsman from 1994 to 2008. Neff received her B.S. in Education and M.Ed. in Educational Services from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. (UW Provost Announcement.)

Related posts: U Washington Faces Lawsuit Despite Mediation by Ombuds; U. Washington Searching Internally for Ombuds.

News Ombuds to Meet in Washington

The Organization of News Ombudsmen will hold its annual conference in Washington, DC, May 10 through 13. Sessions will be held at the offices of National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. (ONO Conf. Details.)

April 10, 2009

Update: Red Cross Appoints Interim Director of Ombuds Office

The American Red Cross has appointed Sarah R. Kith as Interim Corporate Ombudsman following the departure of founding Ombuds Beverly Ortega Babers. Previously, Kith was an Associate Ombuds for the Red Cross. Kith has been active in many Cambodian American organizations and serves on the board of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center. She earned her bachelor's in Communication, Legal Institution, Economics and Government from American University and her master's degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from the George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. (Red Cross Ombuds; SEARAC Bio.)

Prior post: Is Red Cross Ombuds Stepping Down?

Ninety Second Defense of an Ombuds Office

Tom Barnette, Ombudsperson for American Express, kindly agreed to let me reprint his recent email on giving a succinct defense of an Ombuds program (aka the “elevator pitch”). His advice for Ombuds is especially timely given the current financial climate.
IOA Colleagues,

Given the current economic environment, it seems likely that more of us will be asked to defend the ongoing existence of our offices. So I imagined being given 90 seconds by the senior leader of the organization to articulate a rationale. The checklist below is simplistic and oriented towards the corporate sector. I am sharing it here to encourage colleagues to contribute additional key points applicable to all sectors in which IOA members practice. How might this list change for your organization?

Ninety Second Answer to the Question: "Why should we keep the Ombuds Office?"
  • Now more than ever, you need an unfiltered source of feedback. Your team is more likely to rationalize, delay or even avoid sharing news that is not positive.
  • Our employees are increaslying reluctant to speak up at all levels. With job security at risk, most conclude that the safest course of action is to be silent and not risk being viewed as a trouble- maker. The Ombuds office is the safe haven where employees perceive that they can speak freely.
  • Stress levels from internal and external sources are increasing. Without our office, employees lose a very critical resource to help them find support and vent frustration. The confidential discussions with our office help employees deal with distractions and focus their energy on work priorities.
  • Increasingly challenging goals and the difficult operating environment tempt some leaders to take inappropriate short cuts to deliver on their commitments. Our office is a source of early warning while there is time to prevent lasting legal, regulatory or brand damage.
  • In the unfortunate event that significant wrong doing does occur in our organization, external stakeholders will be interested to know that we maintained an informal resource where employees could speak about their concerns without fear of retribution.
  • Our surveys show that employees overwhelmingly value this resource. Closing the office will send a negative message to employees at perhaps the worst possible time. We should work to regain trust, not further diminish it.
Update 4/17/09: I make it clear that posts on this blog are not intended to represent organizations I am affiliated with (IOA, UCLA, and others), but I should make it equally clear that the same applies to individuals identified in posts. In this particular case, it should not be inferred that Tom Barnett is speaking on behalf of American Express. I apologize for for any misunderstanding this may have caused.

Related posts:
Magazine Explains "Vaguely Named" Ombuds Profession; Ombuds Can Help Minimize Effects of Layoffs; Caltech to Close Historic Ombuds Office.

April 09, 2009

FCO Announces Liz Hoffman Research Award Winner

The Forum of Canadian Ombudsman has announced that Michelle LeBaron is the winner of the 2009 Liz Hoffman Ombudsperson Research Award for her paper, “Watchdogs and Wiseones in Winterlands: The Practice Spectrum of Canadian Ombudsman”. LeBaron draws upon interviews and literature to outline the diversity, dynamism, and adaptive design that distinguish Canadian Ombuds practice. The paper concludes that Ombuds practice in Canada will continue to develop and expand despite the economic downturn, if Ombuds can fulfill their promise as independent listeners who assist in not only addressing but preventing problems. Le Baron, a professor at the University of British Columbia Law School and Director of the UBC Program on Dispute Resolution, will present her paper on April 16 at the Joint Conference in Montreal. Her paper is available for download from the FCO website. (FCO Announcement.)

Prior post: FCO Invites Submissions for Canadian Ombuds Research Award.

Update: University of Kentucky Tables Staff Ombuds Proposal

The UK Staff Senate has apparently abandoned the proposal for a dedicated staff Ombuds on the HR Operations Director's assurance that the Work-Life Office was adequately handling matters. (UK Staff Senate Minutes.)

Prior post: University of Kentucky Debating Ombuds for Staff.

Central Washington University Surveys Ombuds Users

The President's Office at CWU solicits feedback on its seven offices, including the Ombuds Office, via an interactive webpage. (CWU Office of President.)

Related posts: McGill Surveys Students to Develop Ombuds Mandate; TSA Ombuds Surveys Visitor Satisfaction; Externs to Survey ICANN Ombuds Users.

Questionable Assurance for Loyola Medical Residents

The new contract between Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago and its residents, states that grievances “related to work environment or issues related to program faculty are resolved through the Ombudsman Program.” Unfortunately for residents, the University decided not to hire a full time Ombuds, since “it was determined that the grievance procedures in both the staff and faculty handbook adequately handle issues once sent to the Ombudsperson office.” The published number for the Ombuds office is “unassigned” and callers are directed to the campus operator. (LUMC Resident Contract; Coordinating Committee Meeting Minutes; School of Medicine Resources.)

April 07, 2009

University of Pennsylvania Ombuds Issues Annual Report

John C. Keene, UPenn's Ombuds, saw 201 visitors in the 2007-08 academic year, up from 192 in the prior year. Half of the visitors seen were employees, 28% were students, 2% were post-docs, and 20% were not classified. Keene's report also introduced the new full-time Associate Ombuds, Michele Goldfarb, who served as director of the University's Women's center for the past 11 years. Previously, Goldfarb was an Assistant U.S. attorney and an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia. She is a member of the adjunct clinical faculty at the Law School and teaches mediation. (UPenn Almanac.)

Related posts: U Penn Ombuds Issues Annual Report and Marks Retirement of Long-Time Associate; U Penn Appoints Ombuds.

April 05, 2009

Hampshire College Creates Ombuds Office

In an email to faculty, Hampshire President Ralph Hexter announced that Carol Stewart would become the first Ombuds for the Amherst, MA, private liberal arts college. Stewart will be on campus 3.5 hours per week working from an office in the college library. Stewart is an experienced conflict management professional and is completing a Master's degree in public policy and public administration, with an emphasis on social justice education and non-profit management at the University of Massachusetts. She has worked with community-based mediation programs as a mediator, trainer, and administrator, most recently as director of mediation services at the LGBT Community Center in New York City. In addition to her appointment at Hampshire, Stewart continues to serve as the first-ever Ombuds for Mount Holyoke College.

Related posts: New Ombuds at Mt. Holyoke; Mount Holyoke Ombuds Interviewed.

Study Concludes Large Law Firms Should Have Ombuds

A new study by the Minority Corporate Council Association concludes that large law firms need to continue their efforts to ensure that minority, female and homosexual attorneys have the same career opportunities as their white male colleagues. The study, titled "Sustaining Pathways To Diversity: The Next Steps in Understanding and Increasing Diversity & Inclusion in Large Law Firms," is the MCCA's first in-depth look at law firm diversity issues since 2003. Although law firms have made diversity issues more of a priority since then, MCCA suggests that firms proactively increase inclusion in the way attorneys experience work and life at their firms. MCCA recommends that training and definitions of discrimination be expanded to include subtle bias, and firms should have an Ombuds with whom attorneys can discuss their experiences. (LawJobs.com Career Center; MCCA.)

Related posts: Job Posting at DLA Piper; MoFo Partner Backs Ombuds as Remedy for Micro-Inequties; Kaye Scholer Implements Ombuds Program.

Univerity of Texas Faculty to Consider Ombuds for Staff

On the recommendation of the Faculty Council Executive Committee, the general faculty at the University of Texas at Austin will vote on a resolution supporting the creation of a staff Ombuds position. UT already has Ombuds offices for students and faculty. (UT General Faculty Doc.)

Related posts: University of Texas Ombuds Office Celebrates 40 Years; UT Austin Faculty Ombuds Gives Annual Report.

April 02, 2009

Department of Defense Announces First Ombuds for Inspector General

On March 1, 2009, Scott M. Deyo became the first DoD IG Ombudsman, reporting directly to Acting Inspector General Gordon Heddell. Practicing to principles of independence, confidentiality, neutrality and informality, the Ombuds will serve all members of the DOD IG community. A website for the office went online yesterday. In the future, Deyo expects to draft a charter, create outreach materials, implement an online submission form, and issue mid-year and annual reports.

Deyo has over 10 years of professional experience in the conflict resolution community. For the past eight years, he worked for the Washington Headquarters Services of the DoD, establishing the Collaborative Resolution Program and providing ADR services to a range of Defense agencies. Deyo also assisted the Missile Defense Agency and Pentagon Force Protection Agency establish their internal Ombuds programs. Deyo earned his BA from James Madison University and a master of science from the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. (DoD OIG Ombuds.)

Prior: Job Posting.

Former Ombuds to Head Seneca College

David Agnew has been selected as the fifth president of the community college for applied arts and technology in Toronto. Agnew comes to Seneca after serving as the Canadian Ombudsman of Banking Services and Investments since 2005. Liz MacLennan currently serves as the Ombudsperson for Seneca College and reports to the office of the president. (Seneca College News; OBSI Profile.)

Western Michigan University Ombuds Profiled

The WMU student newspaper interviewed the recently hired campus Ombuds, Kathy Mitchell. In the article, Mitchell reveals that 80% of her time is spent working with students, 15% with staff and 5% with faculty. She also provides information about IOA. (Western Herald.)

Related post: Western Michigan U. Selects Ombuds.

Things to do During the Joint Conference

If you’re traveling all the way to Montréal, there’s no reason to stay in the conference hotel the entire time. Here are some suggestions for places to spend your per diem in the City of Saints:
Update 4/2/09:

April 01, 2009

International Ombudsman Institute and the Republican National Committee Call Off Merger

Talking Points Memo reports that the IOI and RNC have called off efforts to combine operations, citing philosophical differences and an inability to decide which group would get naming priority. Bill Angrick, president of the IOI said, "We were excited because we thought the RNC wanted to transform the party and give working and middle class Americans a voice." However, it is reported that Michael Steele, head of the RNC, lost interest when he learned IOI was actually an organization who stands up for the little people. After an impasse over naming, an IOI staffer suggested alternating the letters in organizations' acronyms (iRoNiC). Angrick decided this was a sign and ceased negotiations. (Talking Points Memo.)

Related post: IOI Newsletter Announces 2009 Conference in Sweden.