September 30, 2009

Harvard Crimson Faults Ombuds for Silence

An editorial in the Sunday edition of the daily student newspaper decried the mistreatment of an staff member because of his ethnicity. According to the opinion piece, Ravi Raj was subjected to racial slurs and anti-union threats. The editors were especially galled that Raj was unable find resolution through "official avenues for employees to voice complaints of discrimination," including the University Ombuds.
Raj has pursued conflict resolution with management at HMDC, HR, and even the office of the University Ombudsman without success. When contacted, HR and the office of the Ombudsman declined to comment, citing employee confidentiality. While this may be simply their policy, someone needs to step in and speak up on Raj’s behalf. One of the mechanisms in place must be broken—if not the whole system—as it appears Raj’s case has been lost without resolution. Even if there is a reason that Raj’s superiors, HR and the office of the Ombudsman have not pursued his complaints, their official silence has not allowed for resolution of Raj’s unfortunate situation.
(Harvard Crimson.)

The criticism of the Harvard Ombuds is unjustified and reflects a failure to appreciate the mandate of an Organizational Ombuds. The professional standards preclude Ombuds from revealing the identities of their visitors. The fact that the Ombuds would not discuss the case with a reporter is evidence only that the Ombuds was practicing ethically.

Related posts:
FGCU Follow Up; New Ombuds at York University Defends Impartiality; Washington Post Conflates Ombuds Reporting Line With Neutrality.

September 29, 2009

Directors Appointed to Ombuds Certification Board

The new Board of Certification for Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioners (CO-OP) held its inaugural meeting on September 21, 2009. This signaled the retirement of the IOA Certification Task Force and the launch of the new CO-OP Board of Directors. One of the first tasks that was completed was the election of the Officers of the new organization. They are:
  • Marsha Wagner, President
  • Carolyn Noorbakhsh, Secretary
  • Diane Dorion, Treasurer
The remaining Board members are David Brubaker as the Public Director, Jennifer [Wolf] Moumneh and Al Swenson.

The CO-OP Board will be populating standing committees on Appeals, Eligibility, Finance, Nominating and Professional Practices. In addition, communications and marketing teams will also be established to keep members and the public informed about the Ombuds certification program. People interested in volunteering for the new organization should contact Marsha Wagner (wagner at-sign colombia dot edu) or Carolyn Noorbakhsh (carolyn dot noorbakhsh at-sign nrel dot gov).

Related post: IOA Announces First Step Toward Certification Program.

September 28, 2009

Cal Caucus Will Not Convene in 2009

Lewis Redding has announced that the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds will not hold its annual meeting in Asilomar this fall. The hiatus is the first in more than 35 years of gatherings at the state conference facility at Pacific Grove, California. Redding is soliciting input for the 2010 caucus and anyone interested, especially California Ombuds, should contact him by October 21. (Click on image for details.)

Related post: New Website for California Caucus.

Baltimore City Community College to Create Ombuds Program

The 7,100-student public school in Maryland has formed an ad hoc committee to revise the Student Code of Conduct and implement a conflict resolution program. According to a student newspaper: “As an offshoot of the creation of the ad-hoc committee, staff will be assigned throughout the college, to become trained mediators (Ombudsman) on campus. The professionally trained staff will provide assistance when conflict, disputes, & disruptions occur.” Details have not been published. (BCCC Network.)

Ombuds to Run Sahara Ultra-Marathon

Jay Solman, the Ombuds at Simon Fraser University, will run one of the world's toughest endurance races in October. The Sahara Race starts October 25 and stretches over six-day and 156 miles. Solman has been preparing for the run while balancing family life and work as SFU’s Ombuds. His progress can be tracked live at Racing the Planet and supporters can donate to his team and read his blog at Trailwinders. (SFU News Online.)

Related post: Simon Fraser University Names New Ombuds.

September 27, 2009

ICANN Ombuds Releases Fifth Annual Report

The ICANN Ombuds, Frank Fowlie, has published his annual report taking stock of the office and its involvement in conflicts. The report, which is published in six different languages, includes:
  • A summary of the 96 intakes and 31 complaints or requests for assistance received
  • Recommendations on actions to be taken by the ICANN Board
  • Details of outreach and training events
  • Statement on respectful online communication
  • A section on evaluation and recommendations against five Ombuds criteria
  • Statistics on Ombuds activities for the 2008–2009 year
  • Case studies and a description of how the Ombuds’ Office saves ICANN money and staff time by handling persistent complainants
  • A review of the first five years of operations
(ICANN Announcements; ICANN Ombudsman Blog.)

Former ESPN Ombuds Explains Why She Was Not an “Ombudswoman”

There is not a a clear consensus regarding the usage of “Ombudsman” versus “Ombudsperson” versus “Ombuds” within the profession. In Canada, “Ombudsman” prevails. At US colleges and universities, “Ombudsperson” is common. IOA uses “Ombudsman” but has published examples of all three terms. The proponents of each label can explain and defend their rationale. Former ESPN ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber said that her decision was based in respect for the word's Swedish origins.
It was my choice to be ombudsman because it's a Swedish word. It's gender neutral. The -man ending in Swedish doesn't mean man. It means human being. And Swedes are very proud of that word — I think it's the only word other than smorgasbord that made it from Swedish to English in a big way. So I didn't want to mess with their word: ombudsman.

(ESPN Radio via dl004d.)

Related post: Linguist Finds Ombuds Usage Shifting Slowly.

September 25, 2009

University of Hawai'i Ombuds Posts Final Report

Despite the fact that her office is closing at the end of September, UH Manoa Ombuds Susan Park has released a report covering the 2008-2009 academic year.
To say that 2008-09 was a challenging time for the University of Hawaii at Manoa, as well as for the country and the world, appears a study in euphemism. [...] The Office of the Ombuds did not escape the “challenge” of the times.

The UH Ombuds office handled 338 matters last year, half of which were from students. Notably, the number of cases involving interpersonal disputes continued a three-year trend upward for all UHM populations. The subcategory of incivility was the single highest reported concern brought to the UHM Ombuds Office by far.

Park closes her report with a plea for the Ombuds office to be reopened as soon as possible. “When times are tough and resources are in short supply, an ombuds is of even greater importance to the community,” she said. (
UHM Annual Reports.)

Update 9/30/09: Kaleo (UHM Student Newspaper).

Related posts:
University of Hawaii Touts Ombuds Office as Campus Safety Resource; Budget Cuts Force Closure of University of Hawaii Ombuds Office; University of Hawaii Chancellor Clarifies Decision to Shutter Ombuds Office.

ICANN Ombuds to Explain Online Dispute Resolution at USOA Conference

Frank Fowlie, the Ombuds for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will address the United States Ombudsman Association's annual conference next week in Colorado. In advance of that appearance, Fowlie has published his presentation on the current state of ODR. He explains that the field is still in its infancy but has the potential to grow significantly. At present, however, there is poor public awareness, no clear business model, no standards for practitioners, and no professional association. Fowlie asserts that there will be roles in the field for a variety of ADR practitioners, including Ombuds. (ICANN Ombudsman Blog.)

Related posts: International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution; USOA 30th Annual Conference in Colorado.

Ombuds Field Touted as Option for Disaffected Lawyers

Attorneys seeking a career change continue to migrate into the conflict resolution field. An article in the September issue of the Canadian Bar Association magazine, National, says that labor unions, hospitals, school associations, universities and government agencies all hire professionals with strong communication and dispute resolution skills. Ombuds are listed as one of the non-traditional jobs for lawyers. (CBA National.)

September 24, 2009

University of Iowa Ombuds Recaps Eventful Year

Cynthia Joyce, University Ombuds for UI, released a report covering the 2008-2009 academic year, the 23rd annual report for the office. The year has been marked by a flood, a highly publicized charge of sexual assault involving university athletes, two faculty suicides, and fears of furloughs, layoffs, and pay cuts. Joyce said that these difficulties were reflected in a 15% increase in visitors to the UI Ombuds office. On the positive side, there was a significant drop in in the number of undergraduates complaining about disciplinary issues, fewer conflict between graduate students and a decrease in faculty concerns about job conflicts. The report itself received significant media coverage. (UI Ombuds 2009 Report; Media Newswire; Iowa City Press-Citizen; Coralville Courier; Daily Iowan.)

Related posts: University of Iowa Ombuds Profiled; University of Iowa Endorses Ombuds Office After Faculty Suicide; University of Iowa Hiring Faculty Ombuds.

The Relationship of Human Needs and Conflict Resolution

[Post removed 4/13/11.]

September 23, 2009

Are Ombuds a Fix for "Fatally Flawed" HR?

Blogger and HR generalist, Lance Haun argues that human resources profession is in a precarious position because:
  • Most of HR’s value can be outsourced effectively, especially recruitment, employee relations and benefits);
  • HR has unclear goals and ROI, which makes it a luxury for small to medium-sized companies;
  • HR provides no input on business direction, as evidenced the the lack of C-level HR positions.
Haun suggests that a "New HR" model would keep critical functions. His list includes:
  1. Workplace Process and Productivity Expert – Someone to look at workplace process and figure out all of the issues negatively impacting the productivity;
  2. Functional and Effective Internal Ombudsman - Someone who would be comfortable (and be given the authority) to call out management and employees on their detrimental actions and be compensated based on solving issues;
  3. Employee Life Cycle Manager – A guru on how to best integrate new people into an organization, develop careers internally and anticipate and plan exits for any number of reasons.
Haun invites fedback on this proposal. (HR Guru; Your HR Guy.)

Related post: HR Professionals are Also Struggling to Define Effectiveness.

September 21, 2009

Job Posting: University of Calgary

The public research university is hiring its first Ombuds. The jointly-funded position will serve as an independent, impartial and confidential resource for nearly 30,000 students and will make recommendations, where appropriate, for changes in University policies and procedures. Candidates must have a degree or diploma or ample experience in conflict resolution/management (a legal background will be considered an asset) and experience working in a university environment or with diverse groups of people. The position pays $67,600-$108,200 CDN per annum. (University of CalgaryCareer Search, Job ID 7869; Market Zones, Zone D.)

Related posts: University of Calgary Urged to Open Ombuds Office; University of Calgary Considering Ombuds Program.

September 20, 2009

Wikipedia Threatens to Delete IOA Article

A recent Wikipedia article about the International Ombudsman Association is subject to deletion for insufficient authority. An anonymous author (“Darkness Into Light”) originated the article on August 20, 2009, based on information solely from IOA’s website. On September 18, a Wikipedia editor wrote that the article is being considered for deletion because of insufficient third party references. References to reliable third-party sources, especially academic and peer-reviewed publications and mainstream news organizations, are required of all Wikipedia articles. Without contributions that provide valid citations, Wikipedia administrators may depublish the article. IOA continues be be acknowledged in the Wikipedia articles about Ombudsmen and Organizational Ombudsmen. (Wikipedia: International Ombudsman Association; Ombudsman and Organizational Ombudsmen.)

Restructuring at University of Virginia Divests Ombuds of Mediation Duties

UVA has implemented a new Alternative Dispute Resolution program for classified staff that includes a mediation program. The program allows university employees to mediate complaints before a formal grievance using one of eight different mediators. Previously, the University Ombuds, Brad Holland was responsible for providing mediation services and oversaw internal review. The changes are part of a reconfiguration of HR services prompted by Virginia’s Restructuring Act of 2005, which allowed the state’s public colleges and universities to have additional operating flexibility for financial and administrative matters. (Cavalier Daily.)

Call for Articles: Fall 2009 IOA Independent Voice

Starting with the fall 2009 issue, each edition of the monthly newsletter of the International Ombudsman Association will have a theme. The first theme is, “By the Numbers: Using Data to Support the Ombudsman Function.” Editors are soliciting articles and columns related to the theme, as well as the other information, updates and news. Other submissions are still encouraged.

For many Ombuds, the end of the calendar year means it is time to compile an annual report, meet with a top administrator to discuss the past year’s work, or look ahead to future efforts to collect and present data to organizational leaders. Authors may want to submit articles on related topics such as:
  • How to collect and present data – client evaluation, metrics, cost-benefit analyses, statistics/trend-spotting
  • Compiling annual reports – tips, techniques and best practices
  • Using Ombuds databases – examples, new technologies
  • Update on uniform reporting categories
  • How to talk with top administrators about your office – what works, what doesn’t work
  • Getting the administrators’ perspective – interview someone in your organization’s leadership about what they want and need in terms of data from an Ombuds office
Or suggest your own topic! Please send ideas to Samantha Levine-Finley (levinesa[at-sign]od[dot]nih[dot]gov) by September 25. The final deadline for submissions is October 30.

September 18, 2009

Altman Weil Endorses Ombuds Programs for Large Law Firms

A recent newsletter from the global legal management consulting company suggests that it is time for law firms to consider Organizational Ombuds as a means of addressing internal discord. The newsletter, “Report to Legal Management,” is written for lawyer-managers in law firms and law departments, and provides provides cutting-edge management insight.

In the July/August 2009 issue, Douglas B. Richardson writes that changes in law firm practice seem to be fostering greater internal discord. Large, often multinational, law firms have come to resemble corporations in terms of size, grown and geographic decentralization. “Many once-collegial firms have not only lost the ability to resolve interpersonal dispute, they have lost the ability to take the pulse of their own morale,” Richardson said. He concludes that Ombuds programs may be a remedy for law firms, as they have been for many corporations.

The article features an extended discussion between Richardson and John Zinsser, who has served as an Ombuds and consultant for many corporations. Zinsser acknowledged that it would be a novel concept for law firms, which are comfortable with a legalistic and formal dispute resolution process, to accept the highly personalized and flexible Ombuds process. Nonetheless, he assured that Ombuds programs return economic and humanistic benefits for their organizations. Zinsser said that “a properly structured and executed ombudsman program could return more than $40 of value for every dollar invested.”

This is a compelling article that explains why law firms should establish Ombuds programs. Unfortunately, a subscription is required to access it. (Report to Legal Management.)

Related posts: DLA Piper Job Posting; Kaye Scholer Implements Ombuds Program; Study Concludes Large Law Firms Should Have Ombuds.

September 17, 2009

2008 Ombuds Report From Hydro-Québec

Justine Sentenne, the Corporate Ombuds for the government-owned public utility headquartered in Montreal, said that her office handled 130 cases last year. Although this was a substantial decrease from the 197 matters handled in 2007, Sentenne explained that such variation was common. The report presents historical and longitudinal data on visitors and includes recommendations for corporate action. Sentenne provides two unique types of data not seen often in other Ombuds annual reports: a breakdown of complainants by age and detail of the types of resolution (e.g., meditation, referral, intervention by others, etc.). (Hydro-Quebec Ombuds Reports.)

Related post: FCO Selects New Board and Officers.

Reminder: Deadline for IOA Conference Proposals

The deadline to submit proposals for the Fifth Annual International Ombudsman Association Conference, April 7-10, 2010 in New Orleans, is Friday, September 19, 2009. (IOA Conf. Submissions; IOA Conf. Details.)

Related post: First Annual IOA Student Writing Competition.

Advice for Visitors Who Need to Get Along With Their Bosses

Gretchen Rubin's, "Ten Tips for Getting Along with Your Mother-In-Law" are easily transformed into tips for getting along with your boss:
  • Spend more time together, because familiarity breeds affection. The more often you see someone, the more tolerable they become (and vice-versa).
  • Act the way you want to feel, because feelings follow actions.
  • Avoid arguing over petty issues. Pettiness isn't polite or welcome and there's no need to make it part of the relationship.
  • Mindfully articulate and follow your own values. If you are comfortable with your own values and decision, criticism from others becomes less hurtful or frequent.
  • Respect the boss's authority. There are some perks that the boss has earned and that should be acknowledged.
  • Protect your own authority. An employee's rights should not be sacrificed simply to maintain peace.
  • Respect others’ priorities. Unless an accommodation violates your deeply held principles, it’s generous to try to respect other people’s priorities – and it sure promotes peace.
  • Consider the workplace and what's best for your co-workers.
  • Focus on the positive and find ways to express that to others.
These tips may be useful in counseling the many visitors who can't stand their bosses. (The Happiness Blog.)

Related post: Opinion of Boss Drives Most Decisions to Quit.

September 16, 2009

Cleveland State Appoints Ombuds

Cleveland State University has named Jennifer M. Jeffers, PhD to serve as Ombuds of the College of Graduate Studies. Jeffers is a Professor of English and former Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department. She will also serve as an Associate Dean. Jeffers earned her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Emory University. Her current research is in 20th century art and literature, and the contemporary Irish novel. (CSU Campus Mail.)

Humboldt State Ombuds Encourages Students to Call Their Legislators

Scott Paynton, Ombuds at Humboldt State University in California, is urging students to become active participants in changing their school’s funding. Paynton, who is also a professor of Communication, has two specific goals: to get students to turn off their cell phones and to write their state representatives about restoring funding to the CSU. (The Lumberjack.)

Related post: New Humboldt State Ombuds Debut Website.

University of South Carolina Ombuds Issues Third Annual Report

Jim Augustine, University Ombuds at USC, reports that he has been consulted by 163 faculty members over the past three years for an average of 54 visitors per year. He also surveyed Ombuds at 25 academic institutions and found similar numbers of faculty visitors over the past two years. Augustine also said that the USC Faculty Senate amended its code of conduct after he reported on bullying, threatening or coercive behavior in his first annual report. The 2008-09 report also notes that Augustine was unable to attend the IOA Conference in Montreal or participate in professional training because of state budget cuts. (USC Ombuds Reports.)

September 15, 2009

Past UMass Ombuds to be Honored by ACR

Janet Rifkin, the former Ombuds for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, will be feted at the Association for Conflict Resolution's ninth annual conference in October. Rifkin will receive the Mary Parker Follett Award for her pioneering alternative dispute resolution contributions, assessment of potential flaws in the field’s theories and practice, and leadership in conflict resolution studies. Rifkin served as the UMass Ombuds from 1992 to 1996, where she is a currently professor of Legal Studies. She also served as Director of the University of Massachusetts Mediation Project and co-founded of the National Association of Mediation in Education. (ACR Update.)

Related post: 2009 ACR Conference Features Ombuds.

President Names Former Ombuds to Labor Relations Panel

President Obama has appointed Edward F. Hartfield to the Federal Service Impasses Panel which resolves disputes between the federal government and its employees. Hartfield is currently the Executive Director of the National Center for Dispute Resolution and has served as Ombudsman for the New Jersey Office of Citizen Complaints. (White House Press Office.)

September 14, 2009

“Fairness Review” and Ombuds

In the summer edition of ACResolutions magazine, David McNabb, Deputy Ombudsman with RBC Royal Bank and chair of the ACR Ombuds Section, offers an overview of the current state of the Ombuds profession. He points out that Ombuds are distinguishable from other conflict resolvers by their unique work of “fairness review.”
An Ombudsman fairness review respects legal compliance and due process without deciding the law, yet offers something more. An Ombudsman engages parties—individuals and host institutions—in a post review of accountabilities and best practices. An Ombudsman imagines and rehearses success and best practices in transactions and relationships between host institutions and individuals, while tracking and making notes of possible administrative failures, gaps, errors and omissions, particularly in communication. In this way, an Ombudsman can be a catalyst for integrity, accountability and good citizenship, norming failures in administration and contradictions in democracy, resulting in a virtuous cycle of individual and institutional confidence.

McNabb argues that Ombuds are positioned to mitigate the human factors that gave rise to the current financial and economic crises. (Ombudsman in the 21st Century: A Model for Public Currency in Private Discretion.)

New Website for University of British Columbia Ombuds Office

Shirley Nakata, Ombuds for UBC Students, has unveiled a beautiful website for her new office. The site provides an overview of the UBC Office of the Ombudsperson for Students and offers a collection of links to campus resources. (UBC Ombuds.)

Related post: University of British Columbia Names First Ombuds for Students.

ICANN Ombuds Receives Research Award

Frank Fowlie, the Ombuds for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, was honored by La Trobe University with the “Outstanding Research Thesis Merit Award 2008.″ Fowlie’s doctoral dissertation was on developing a design model for the evaluation of ombudsman operations. He notes that, “The ICANN Office of the Ombudsman continues to be a leader in the area of ombudsman evaluation and effectiveness.” (ICANN Ombudsman Blog.)

Related post: ICANN Ombuds Earns Doctorate.

September 11, 2009

University of North Texas Ombuds Launches Blog

Somehow, I overlooked the blog published by Belinda Newman, Ombuds at UNT, since December 2008. Newman shares her perspective on conflict resolution and avoidance in the workplace. Recent posts covered: Giving and Receiving Feedback; When Trust Is Broken; “Coaching” Yourself for (the Next) Promotion; and Focus on the Problem Not the Person. (UNT Ombuds Blog.)

Related posts: Chronicle of Higher Ed Highlights UNT as Example of Ombuds Growth; Higher Ed Ombuds Are Embracing Social Media.

Classical Ombuds May Have Role in Health Care Reform

OO blogger Clayton Gilman points out that the healthcare reform framework proposed by Senator Max Baucus (of the “Gang of Six”) includes a role for Ombuds.
In 2010, states would be required to establish an ombudsman office to act as a consumer advocate for those with private coverage in the individual and small group markets. Policyholders whose health insurers have rejected claims and who have exhausted internal appeals would be able to access the ombudsman office for assistance.

Gilman thinks this may mean an expansion of the federally funded National Long Term Care Ombudsman Program administered by the states. (Organizational Ombudsman Blog.)

Navy Marks Ombudsman Appreciation Day

The U.S. Navy celebrates Ombudsman Appreciation Day on September 14 with events at many commands stations. "This will be an opportunity for people around the fleet to stand together and give thanks to those who work tirelessly to improve the readiness of commands and the lives of Sailors and Navy families," said Bobbi West, ombudsman at large. "Without them, we could not do what we do as a Navy." It is estimated that the volunteer Ombuds save the Navy more than $48 million per year.

The Navy Family Ombudsman Program program was introduced September 14, 1970 and assists commanding officers attend to the morale, health, welfare, and efficiency of command personnel. The program enhances the exchange of information and ideas between the leadership of the command and the family members of those serving within the unit. In recent years, the Ombudsman Program has established communication networks for family members and expanded to provide Ombuds in remote, isolated or locations. Navy Ombuds generally complete Ombudsman Basic Training within six weeks of appointment. (Navy News.)

September 10, 2009

Conversation on the Role of Ombuds in Environmental Issues

Jennifer Reynolds, an Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon Law School, will host a informal conversation on "What Does (or Should) an Ombudsman Do? Reflecting on the Ombudsman Role in Environmental Dispute Resolution and Beyond." The "fireside" conversation will take place September 16, 2009 and is open to the public (although most of the attendees are expected to be environmentally-minded law students). Reynolds plans to talk about Ombuds generally and specific needs within the EPA for Ombuds-like interventions. She says that the EPA is in the process of revising its "public liaison" program, which used to be its regional Ombuds program, and will discuss what a revamped liaison program might look like. (Oregon Law, Crisis and Collaboration Series.)

Related posts: Report to the President on Federal ADR Programs; Federal Ombuds Publish Unified Model for Developing an Office; Job Posting: Department of Interior; CoFO Continues Work on Thorny Issues Facing Government Ombuds.

Cal State San Bernardino Ombuds Reports Jump in Visitors

Tera Bisbee, University Ombuds for the California State University San Bernardino, released her second annual report which indicated that visitor traffic was up by 37.5%. In the 2008-09 academic year, her office had 276 visitors, primarily students. All categories of the campus population were up; the only categories showing a decline were parents and the public. Bisbee also reported positive evaluations from visitors. (CSUSB Ombuds 2008-09 Report.)

Related posts: Cal State San Bernardino Appoints Ombuds; Cal State San Bernardino Ombuds Issues First Annual Report.

Dartmouth Ombuds Honored for Community Service

Dartmouth College Ombuds Mary Childers was the 2009 commencement speaker for the Community College of Vermont, where she received the Award for Civic Engagement and Leadership as a result of her efforts to raise consciousness about poverty in the state. Childers runs workshops based on her memoir and has collaborated with several organizations to address challenges and stigmas faced by the poor. (Vox of Dartmouth.)

Related posts: Interview With New Dartmouth Ombuds; Dartmouth Ombuds Interviewed on Public Radio.

September 09, 2009

Update: Amherst College Reopens Ombuds Office

The private liberal arts college reopened its Ombuds Office with the appointment of Carol Stewart as Ombudsperson on August 25, 2009. Stewart will continue as Ombuds for two of the other members of the Five College Consortium: Mount Holyoke College and Hampshire College. She received her MA in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and earned her BA in Psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is a member of the International Ombudsmen Association and the Association for Conflict Resolution.

Related posts: Mount Holyoke Ombuds Interviewed; Hampshire College Creates Ombuds Office; Amherst College Ombuds Office Closes.

September 08, 2009

Job Posting: Kaiser Permanente San Jose

Kaiser is accepting applications for a full-time HealthCare Ombudsman/Mediator in San Jose, California. Extensive clinical health care experience (10+ years) and Ombuds training or experience is required. No closing date or salary indicated, which is typical for Kaiser postings. (Yahoo HotJobs, Job ID: ST.0900273.)

University of Iowa Hiring Faculty Ombuds

The public research university in Iowa City has opened an internal search for a part-time Ombuds. Selected from the tenure-track or clinical faculty, the position serves the entire UI community and works with the full-time professional Ombuds, Cynthia Joyce. The faculty Ombuds is appointed to a four-year term. Lois Cox, a clinical professor of law, will continue serving as the half-time Ombuds through the end of the calendar year. (UI Requisition.)

Related posts: University of Iowa Ombuds Profiled; University of Iowa Ombuds Issues Annual Report; Ombuds Prompts Changes at University of Iowa; University of Iowa Endorses Ombuds Office After Faculty Suicide.

September 07, 2009

Trendspotting: Higher Ed Ombuds Are Embracing Social Media

In an effort to reach student populations, many campus Ombuds programs are joining social networking sites. Ombuds at Virginia Tech, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Northern Illinois University, and Lewis & Clark College, have established Facebook pages. Valerie White at Lewis & Clark uses the Facebook page to provide information about her office (including photos), thoughts about conflict, and updates about the college. Thomas Griffin at UCLA has set up a Facebook Organizational Ombuds Group that is gaining members who are Ombuds or interested in the profession. Demerris Brooks, the Ombuds for San Jose State University took the leap into Twitter this week, providing campus updates for followers. Among Classical Ombuds, Andre Marin, the Ombudsman of Ontario and his staff are unparalleled in embracing Web 2.0, with a blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Related posts: Ombuds Not Exempt From Influence of Internet; Statement on Respectful Online Communication; Online Bullying an Emerging Issue for Ombuds; Recent University Ombuds Website Upgrades; An Ombuds Guide to Internet Tools.

Ombuds Program Serves Colorado Tech Online Students

The Office of the Ombuds for Colorado Technical University Online was established in 2005 and unveiled its website earlier this year. Elizabeth Conley serves as CTU Online's Ombuds.

Correction: A prior version of this post mistakenly indicated that the CTU Online Ombuds Office serves CTU ground campus students in Colorado Springs, Denver, Kansas City, Pueblo or Sioux Falls. If the contact the Ombuds Office, these students are directed to their local campus resources. (
CTU Ombuds Office.)

September 06, 2009

Job Posting: UNICEF

UNICEF seeks an Ombudsman for the Funds and Programmes, to be based in the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman, New York Headquarters. The ideal candidate will have an advanced university degree, 15 years of professional experience, including five at international level in dispute resolution, knowledge of the Funds and Programmes, effective computer skills, and fluency in English with proficiency in another UN language. (UN Jobs.)

Is the Ninth Circuit Creating an Ombuds Program?

A leading legal ethics blog reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is rolling out an ombudsman program by which practitioners could discreetly raise issues about a judge's behavior or temperament. Details about the program are not available. (Legal Ethics Forum.)

Related post: New Ombuds Program Serves Jacksonville Bench and Bar.

British Higher Education Ombudsman Surveys Profession

Writing for the newsletter of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association, Mike Reddy, reflects on three Ombuds conferences this year. The Deputy Adjudicator with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education attended the ACCUO/FCO/IOA, ENOHE and BIOA annual meetings. He observes that ‘Ombudsman’ may have become a very amorphous term in the UK and notes the rise of Executive and Organizational Ombuds in North America. Reddy admits that he is a big fan or Organizational Ombuds and has recommended the model for universities in England and Wales. Anticipating the growth in campus Ombuds, Reddy wonders whether there is a role for BIOA. (BIOA Newsletter, p. 13; thanks to Jenna Brown.)

Related posts: British Classical Ombudsman Reports Spike in University Complaints; British Panel Recommends Higher Education Ombuds Programs.

September 03, 2009

McGill Names New Ombuds for Students

Ending several months of searching, McGill University has announced the appointment of Spencer Boudreau, PhD as its Ombudsperson for Students, effective September 1, 2009. Boudreau is an Assistant Professor in the Education Department and has served as Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning, and Students for the last six years. He earned his PhD in Religion from Concordia University, MA from Université de Sherbrooke, and BA's from Université de Sherbrooke and Don Bosco College. The McGill Board of Governors recently approved a revised mandate for the Student Ombuds, who is charged with providing an independent, impartial and confidential process for just, fair and equitable resolutions of any University-related concern. (McGill Announcement; Boudreau Profile.)

Update 9/9/09: "I am extremely pleased with Spencer Boudreau as the new ombudsperson," said Provost Anthony Masi. "He is calm, easy-going, listens very well - just an ideal ombudsperson and a university citizen." (McGill Tribune.)

Related posts: McGill Surveys Students to Develop Ombuds Mandate; Appointment of Interim Ombuds at McGill Raises Concerns; McGill Still Searching for Qualified Ombuds Applicants.

Columbia Adds Ombuds Course

This fall, the Columbia University School of Continuing Education will offer "Fundamentals of Ombuds Practice" as one of the courses for a Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.
The ombuds profession has seen a tremendous growth in interest as interest in alternative dispute resolution and integrated dispute resolution systems within organizations has increased. However, when asked, the average person in the United States still neither knows what an ombudsperson is nor the functions that an ombudsperson fulfills within an organization. This class will introduce students to the major theoretical and practical issues inherent in the ombuds profession. With particular focus on the Standards of Practice as articulated by the International Ombudsman Association, students will learn about the unique services that organizational ombudspeople provide to organizations and to individuals within those organizations.

The three-unit course will be taught by Bathabile Mthombeni, a member of Columbia's Ombuds office. (Columbia Ombuds Course Description; Fall 2009 Schedule via Scribd.)

Related post: Pepperdine Law School Revives Ombuds Course.

September 01, 2009

First Annual IOA Student Writing Competition

The International Ombudsman Association has announced that it is sponsoring an annual writing contest for students in law school or graduate programs in dispute resolution. In the inaugural contest, law students are invited to submit articles arguing for a statutory privilege for organizational ombudsmen. The author of the winning article will receive a cash prize of $2,500 and an invitation to the IOA Annual Conference in April 2010 in New Orleans to receive the award. IOA will provide registration, airfare and lodging for the conference. The winning article may also be published in the Journal of IOA. Submissions are due November 15, 2009. (IOA Writing Competition Details.)

See also: ADR Prof Blog; Legal Writing Competitions Blog; Brandeis Law School; University of Florida Law Center.

New Ombuds Program Serves Jacksonville Bench and Bar

The Jacksonville (Tennessee) Bar Association has created an "Ombudsman" subcommittee within its Judicial Relations Committee. Volunteers with the committee will be available to listen confidentially to concerns from both the Bar and the Bench about issues regarding each other. JBA President, Dan Bean says that the committee is not intended to circumvent any current mechanisms in place that resolve problems or any other formal grievance procedures, and believes it will provide yet another outlet to resolve issues and keep relationships between the Bench and Bar positive. (Jacksonville Daily Record.)