November 30, 2009

Southern University Appoints First Ombuds

The private, historically black college in Baton Rouge, Louisiana created its first-ever Ombuds program last week. Southern University and A&M College Chancellor Kofi Lomotey said he approved the new office to assist students. D.J. Baker will fill the position on an interim basis earning $55,000 per year while a search is conducted. Baker obviously has the Chancellor's trust, having served as Lomotey's assistant. In addition, Baker was the interim Director of Residential Life for the Baton Rouge campus. He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. (Baton Rouge Advocate.)

November 29, 2009

New Secretary General Explains IOI's Relocation to Vienna

Earlier this fall, the International Ombudsman Institute moved from Edmonton, Canada to Vienna, Austria and appointed a new director, Austrian Ombuds Peter Kostelka. In an interview, Kostalka explained why the relocation will benefit the organization:
Vienna sees itself as a place of international encounter and therefore received considerable support from the national government and city of Vienna, which both consider that the move will strengthen Vienna’s status as a seat of international organisations. I believe that this also confirms the worldwide recognition of the role of the ombudsman as an old-established institution.

The new Secretary General also said he will be developing a website to provide information to all member institutions, from the legal basis to practical considerations, and organizing regional training programs. (Wein International.)

Related posts: IOI Secretariat Relocating to Vienna; Canadian and European Higher Ed Ombuds Will Convene in Vienna.

DHS Secretary Appoints New Immigration Ombuds

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has appointed January Contreras as the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman. Most recently, Contreras served as a Senior Advisor to Secretary Napolitano. Before working at DHS, Contreras headed the Arizona Department of Health Services. In addition, she has 10 years of experience in litigation and policy, including health policy and its interaction with immigration policy and legislation. Contreras attended the University of Arizona for her BA and law degree. Prominent immigration attorney Greg Siskind says that Contreras will enjoy a good working relationship with Secretary Napolitano and hopes that Contreras stays in the position long enough to be most effective. (DHS Bio; Greg Siskind for Immigration Law Week.)

Related posts: Job Posting; Leading Immigration Lawyer Urges Obama to Retain USCIS Ombuds; How to Become the Next Immigration Ombuds; Immigration Expert Says USCIS Ombuds Should Have More Power.

November 27, 2009

Job Posting: International Organization for Migration

The IOM Office of the Director General is hiring an Ombuds for a five-year appointment in Geneva, Switzerland. Following IOA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, the Ombuds has two main functions: (1) provide assistance in the informal resolution employment-related problems of staff members and (2) monitor trends and emerging issues. Applicants should have a university degree in related field and experience in an international oriented organization on mediation and conflict resolution. Fluency in speaking English and French or Spanish is required. Applications are due December 10, 2009. (IOM Current Vacancies, Reference Code: RW_7Y6EGU-48, via ReliefWeb.)

November 25, 2009

Western Michigan University Ombuds Reflects on Her First Year

The campus newspaper for WMU interviewed Kathy Mitchel, who has been the Ombuds since July 2008. She earned her BA and MA degrees from Western Michigan and has worked on the campus ever since. She describes how her perspective changed in the job:
When I first started, I thought, “I am going to have all these people come to me with their problems and I can’t do anything, this is going to be frustrating.” I don’t tell people what to do. I don’t go to the professor and tell them “you have to change this grade, or you need to do this, how frustrating.” But as it turns out, not being the person who makes the decision at the end of the day is actually really empowering because it frees me up to be able to help work the system for students, faculty, and staff.

Western Herald.)

Related post: Western Michigan U. Selects Ombuds.

November 24, 2009

Profile of Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation Ombuds

The latest alumni magazine for Sarah Lawrence College features a profile of Rona Carr, the Organizational Ombuds for the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation. Regarding her work, she said:
I don’t dance at all, but I’ve always wanted to work with a performing arts organization—they have interesting human resources challenges. You have to work with the person as a whole person, because for performers, how they feel when they get up in the morning affects how they do their jobs. In business there are much stricter parameters for what topics you talk about. In the performing arts, people are romantic together, they scream at each other, and the relationships are a lot more open.

Carr is also the founder and principal of Austin International Group, a human resources, business communications and project management consulting company. (Sarah Lawrence Magazine.)

November 23, 2009

Court Orders Production of Documents From Former NHLPA Ombuds

According to news reports, the National Hockey League Players Association has convinced a court to order the union's former Ombuds, Buzz Hargrove, to return all NHLPA-related documents. Few details are available. (Buffalo News; Boston Globe.)

Prior posts: NHL Ombuds Under Scrutiny for Role in Firing of Director; NHL Ombuds Steps Down.

November 22, 2009

Chicago Law Firm Ombuds Honored as Future Leader

DLA Piper attorney Christina Martini is featured as one of six future leaders by Chicago Lawyer magazine. Martini is a partner in the global law firm and, in addition to many leadership roles, was recently appointed as DLA Piper's first Ombuds. In this role, she supports diversity and inclusion efforts and, in particular, for the LGBT community. Martini graduated from Northwestern University School of Law and earned her BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Before becoming an attorney, she interned in the General Counsel Office at Baxter Healthcare Corp. (Chicago Lawyer; DLA Piper Profile and Press Release.)

Related posts: DLA Piper (NY) Job Posting; Altman Weil Endorses Ombuds Programs for Large Law Firms.

November 18, 2009

Stephen Colbert Offered Position as Olympic Ombudsman

The host of the Colbert Report, who is financially supporting the US Olympic Speed Skating Team and who has accused Canadians of unfairly denying Americans practice time at the Richmond Olympic Oval, has been invited to attend the Winter Games and monitor the treatment of Americans. The City of Richmond has offered to appoint Colbert as an official Ombuds. According to a letter from the city, "We've even created a special uniform for the new Ombudsman's position, consisting of a lovely Richmond Olympic Oval pink toque, which we think would make Mr. Colbert look very officious." (Press Release; National Post.)

Pictured: Your correspondent, not Colbert.

November 17, 2009

Report by Ombuds Becomes Critical Evidence in Lawsuit Against University

On November 12, the University of Southern Mississippi was largely successful in defeating the claims of a tenured professor, Chauncey M. Depree. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the ruling of the trial court, which had dismissed nearly all of Depree's allegations that USM wrongly stripped him of his teaching duties and evicted him from his office because he had criticized the university. On the issue of whether the university had violated the professor's free speech rights, however, the appellate court returned the case to the trial court for further hearing. The appellate court found that the case presented complex First Amendment issues, particularly in light of a report prepared by UMN's Ombuds.

According to the court's summary, the case arose when faculty from the business USM business school complained about Depree's allegedly negative and disruptive behavior, and failure to engage in scholarly or professional activities. The University President relieved Depree of his teaching obligations and barred him from the campus. (Depree retained his title, tenure and salary despite USM's actions.) The President also requested the Provost to have the Ombuds investigate the charges against Depree. The Ombuds produced a report containing what the court characterized as "wholly dispassionate conclusions and recommendations." It was this report that gave the court a reason for the appellate court to remand the case for further development. The court said, "the late intervention of the Ombudsman report and [the President’s] response to it have created a factual moving target." The USM Ombuds is not identified by name in the court decision, nor is there a USM webpage for the Ombuds. (Depree v. Saunders, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 24969 (5th Cir. Miss. Nov. 12, 2009); Depree USM Bio.)

Organizational Ombuds, especially those in higher education will be quick to point out that they never conduct investigations at the behest of administrators and never issue written recommendations regarding the resolution of specific cases. Unfortunately, for Ombuds practicing in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, the case law now indicates otherwise.

Canadian and European Higher Ed Ombuds Will Convene in Vienna

For its eighth annual conference next spring, the European Network for Ombudsmen in Higher Education will be joined by Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons. The joint ENOHE-ACCUO meeting will take place in Vienna, May 19-21, 2010 and will be hosted by several stakeholder institutions of Austrian higher education. The event will be coordinated by the Office of the Austrian Student Ombudsman and the Austrian National Agency for the Life Long Learning Programme of the European Union.

The theme, "Common objectives, different pathways: Embedding Ombudsman principles and practices into Higher Education institutions," emphasizes ways of resolving disputes fairly by comparing different experiences of higher education Ombuds in a wide variety of settings. The first day of the conference will feature workshops and training session. The final two days of the conference will provide plenary presentations followed by concurrent sessions and reports back to the plenary. More details should be by mid-December 2009. Registration costs for the two-day conference will be approximately € 250.00. For further information write to Josef Leidenfrost (enohe [at] bmwf [dot] gv [dot] at), Martine Conway (ombuddy [at] uvic [dot] ca) or Anita Pouliot (apouliot [at] uwo [dot] ca). (ENOHE; ACCUO.)

Related posts: ACCUO Annual Conference in May 2008; Three Ombuds Organizations to Hold Joint Conference in April 2009; ENOHE (7th) Annual Conference in Germany; ENOHE Latest Newsletter.

November 16, 2009

Job Posting: University of Tennessee, Knoxville

UTK is hiring an Ombuds for faculty and staff. The position reports directly to the university chancellor. Applicants must have a PhD or other terminal degree and at least five years of relevant job experience. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in higher education. Applications received by December 15, 2009 will receive first consideration. (Higher Ed Jobs.)

Related post: University of Tennessee, Knoxville Names Interim Faculty Ombuds.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Promises to Restore Ombuds Program

Administrators at the sprawling, 19,777-student public university have said they will hire an Ombuds to promote diversity and tolerance on campus. Cal Poly had an Ombuds program from about 2000 to 2004, but the position always had other student affairs duties. The move is part of a broader campaign to address harassment, hate, bias and insensitivity after a noose and confederate flag were found in university housing. David Conn, Cal Poly’s vice provost for academic programs and undergraduate education, promised to hire an Ombuds to field complaints on campus about prejudice and other issues, including sexual harassment. A timeline and salary haven’t been determined, and Conn said the position likely would be filled internally because of the university’s budget crisis. (San Luis Obispo Tribune.)

November 15, 2009

House Bill Would Create External Ombuds for SEC

Earlier this month, the House Financial Services Committee approved H. 3817, which would reform the Securities and Exchange Commission and strengthen its powers to protect investors and to regulate the securities markets. A late amendment by Kevin McCarthy (R-CA22) to the bill would create an Ombuds position reporting directly to the SEC Chairperson. The proposed SEC Ombuds would serve as a confidential liaison and be able to make policy recommendations. Rep. McCarthy sponsored a similar bill in the last legislative session that was unsuccessful. (GovTrack, H. 3817 status; McCarthy Amendment.)

Related post: House Bill Would Create SEC Ombuds Office.

University of Memphis Provost Overrules Faculty, Keeps Ombuds

In October, UM Provost Ralph Faudree asked the faculty senate to select the next Ombuds from internal candidates. Last week, Faudree unexpectedly rescinded the request and announced that the current Ombuds, Bill Brody, had a contract for four more years. Brody is an emeritus professor in the UM Department of Journalism. There is disagreement over how the Ombuds has been selected and it was not clear why Faudree changed his mind. (Memphis Commercial Appeal.)

The effect on the UM Ombuds is an open issue. Although Ombuds are adept at dealing with conflicts, they generally do not like to be directly involved. In this case, the situation could lead some to believe that the Ombuds cannot be neutral with respect to the Provost. On the other hand, the Ombuds may now enjoy a sense of job security and independence that could allow him to be more outspoken when necessary. As with most Ombuds, the critical issue is his reputation prior to this incident.

Prior post: University of Memphis to Name Faculty Ombuds.

November 13, 2009

Ohio State University Trustees Approve Faculty Ombuds Program

At a meeting on October 29, the OSU Board of Trustees approved a proposal from the University Senate for a part-time faculty Ombudsperson. The current faculty senate chair said that a search for the Ombuds will be completed in the next six weeks so that the person will be in place for Winter Quarter. Only senior or emeritus faculty will be considered for the position. OSU President E. Gordon Gee will appoint Ombuds to a one-year term. The campus paper hopes the faculty Ombuds will be able to curb embarrassing and "childish" feuds." (The OSU Lantern.)

Prior post: Ohio State University Approves Faculty Ombuds Office.

November 12, 2009

Cheesecake Factory Agrees to Ombuds Program in Settlement with EEOC

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a settlement with Cheesecake Factory, Inc., a nationwide restaurant chain, arising out of charges that six male employees were subjected to repeated sexual harassment at an Arizona restaurant. In addition to a monetary settlement and other measures, the Cheesecake Factory agreed to "institute an ombudsman to field and address sexual harassment complaints by employees." No other details regarding the Ombuds program were released. (EEOC Press Release.)

Many EEOC discrimination cases have been settled with the defendant company agreeing to implement an Ombuds program. In most cases, the details are sparse and later it is impossible to locate any public information regarding the promised Ombuds program. (See, e.g.,
Nike Settles Discrimination Lawsuit, Agrees to Ombuds; Minneapolis Restaurant Settles EEOC Lawsuit, Agrees to Hire Ombuds; Trucking Firm Settles Discrimination Lawsuit and Agrees to Hire Ombuds.) The rare exception was Coca Cola's settlement of an EEOC case in 2000 that resulted in a prominent Ombuds office.

November 11, 2009

Northwestern University Approves Faculty Ombuds Program

The private research university in Evanston, IL has approved an Ombuds program that is markedly different that the model adopted by peer institutions. Instead of a single office with a full-time professional Ombuds serving the entire campus community, Northwestern will have a network of volunteer faculty Ombuds assisting only other faculty. Moreover, while most university Ombuds handle any issue related to the campus, Northwestern's faculty Ombuds will not be able to offer advice or services related to cases involving alleged sexual harassment. Otherwise, the program follows IOA standards of practice with respect to confidentiality, neutrality and informality. Potentially, Northwestern could appoint more than a dozen Faculty Ombuds; none have been announced yet. (Northwestern Ombuds Guidelines.)

Related posts: Ombuds Rising: Three More Universities Considering Ombuds Offices; General Counsel Limits Scope of Proposed Ombuds Program at Northwestern.

Progressive White Paper on Education Calls for Nationwide College Customer Ombuds Program

The Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, has released a white paper on accountability in higher education, "Putting the Customer First in College." The author, Louis Soares, argues that the Department of Education should create a central Office of Consumer Protection in Higher Education. Most of the work would fall to 10 regional "college customer ombudsmen." As advocates for students, these regional Ombuds would:
  • Ensure higher education institutions practices are in keeping with the College Customer Bill of Rights.
  • Work with state officials, regional accrediting bodies, and student and parent organizations to ensure that data gathered are useful to inform customer choice.
  • Review and comment on actions by state and accrediting bodies as pertains to promoting “truth in education” transparency.
  • Help to disseminate information about changes in federal, state and accrediting body regulations.
  • Conduct studies to evaluate the effectiveness of customer-friendly data in making college choices.
  • Refer individuals with questions regarding education provider practices to the appropriate authorities: federal, state and accrediting body.
  • Monitor complaints regarding education provider practices to spot trends that can improve customer information.
Some higher education officials are skeptical of a proposal that would add another layer of bureaucracy and impose excessive information demands on colleges and universities. (Center for American Progress White Paper; Inside Higher Ed. Hat tip to Lee Twyman.)

November 10, 2009

Job Posting: UN Ombuds Office

The United Nations Office of the Ombudsman in New York is accepting applications for Senior Conflict Resolution System Officer. The position will be responsible for identifying systemic employment-related issues, handling complex cases, and working with regional Ombuds in peacekeeping areas. Applicants must have an advanced degree and ten years of professional experience. Second language fluency and knowledge of UN policies is also preferred. Applications are due January 5, 2010. (UN Jobs, vacancy no.: 09-OMB-OMBUDSMAN -422087-R-NEW YORK.)

Law Society Equity Ombuds Assist Canadian Legal Professionals

Many Canadian law societies, which regulate the profession in the public interest, have added an Ombuds service to assist lawyers, law students and legal support staff who want help resolving complaints of discrimination or harassment. According to Canadian Lawyer Magazine, law society Equity Ombuds are usually an outside contractor, not a law society employee, hired as part of a broad program to promote diversity and equity in the legal sector. (Canadian Lawyer Magazine.)

Equity Ombuds are similar to Organizational Ombuds in that they both provide confidential, neutral and informal services. Some even provide anonymous feedback to law firms and offer training services.

The practice has not yet caught on in the United States, although some bar associations have considered similar schemes.

Related posts: Texas State Bar Considers Ombuds Office; Job Posting: Maryland Courts; Court Ombuds Permitted to Serve as Paid Facilitator; New Ombuds Program Serves Jacksonville Bench and Bar; Is the Ninth Circuit Creating an Ombuds Program?

Senate Bill Would Create Private Student Loan Ombuds Program

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced a bill to create a private education loan Ombuds office to assist students in conflicts with their private lenders. The proposed Ombuds office would provide private loan borrowers with the same services offered by the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman. Unlike FSOA, which is part of the the Department of Education, the proposed private education loan Ombuds would report to the Secretary of Treasury. The bill, S. 2733, has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. (GovTrack, S. 2733 status; via NAFSAA News.)

Related post: Staffing Arrangement at Federal Student Aid Ombuds Office Raises Conflict of Interest Concerns.

November 09, 2009

Update: Jury Returns Verdict for University of Washington in Rape Case

The jury hearing the civil case against UW arising out of an alleged rape of a student by a football player has returned a verdict for the defendants. According to the Seattle Times, the jury found UW not liable on the narrow reasoning that the plaintiff's educational opportunities had not been sufficiently harmed because she remained in school, kept a high grade-point average, and graduated. Nonetheless, jurors sought to amend their verdict to include a statement scolding UW for its handling of the matter. Although she did not prevail, the plaintiff expressed satisfaction with the lawsuit. (Seattle Times.) The state appellate court decision in this case is likely to remain a published decision. (S.S. v. Alexander 143 Wn. App. 75; 177 P.3d 724; 2008 Wash. App. LEXIS 333 (2008).)

The implications for Organizational Ombuds in Washington State as a result of this case are significant. There is now legal precedent in Washington State for concluding that reporting discrimination to an Ombuds is sufficient to put a university on notice. There is now case law that permits the Washington courts to take evidence regarding mediation communications with a university Ombuds. Washington courts now have legal authority to find that a university may be liable for how an Ombuds handles a matter. In the future, Organizational Ombuds in Washington will have to convince the courts that their practice differs enough to avoid the reasoning of S.S. v. Alexander. Although there is some basis for such an argument (the UW Ombuds did not follow many of the standards of practice for Organizational Ombuds), it will be more difficult for Organizational Ombuds in the Evergreen State.

Prior posts: U Washington Faces Lawsuit Despite Mediation by Ombuds; Jury Deliberating University of Washington Rape Case.

Note: An individual claiming to be one of the jurors left a comment on the earlier post regarding this case.

Update: NHL Ombuds Steps Down

Yesterday, Buzz Hargrove resigned his position as Interim Ombuds of the National Hockey League Players' Association. Hargrove's ouster had been widely anticipated -- he had been criticized for supporting the NHLPA board's decision last month to fire its Executive Director, Paul Kelly. In his defense, Hargrove asserted that his investigations and advocacy were consistent with his role as a players' Ombuds. Hargrove served as the NHLPA Ombuds since just February, when Eric Lindros resigned from the position. Hargrove is the former president of the Canadian Auto Workers union and was awarded the the Order of Canada at a ceremony in Ottawa Friday. As the part-time NHLPA Ombuds, Hargrove earned $115,000 (CDN) per annum. (Toronto Star; National Post; CBC Sports.)

Prior posts: Hockey Players Oust Director With Input From Ombuds; NHL Ombuds Under Scrutiny for Role in Firing of Director.

November 08, 2009

University of Kansas Ombuds Posts 2008-09 Reports

Kellie Harmon, University Ombuds for KU, said that her office handled 490 matters in the 16 months ended June 30, 2009 (an unusual period to accommodate a change to academic year reporting). Harmon said visitors came from 90 different university units and departments. In addition to reporting on cases and professional activities, Harmon summarized the results of an formal evaluation of her office. Last year, the University Governance office invited students, staff, and faculty who contacted the Ombuds Office to complete an on-line survey to evaluate visitors’ experiences. The results of the survey overwhelmingly indicated that individuals who contacted the office were appreciative of how they were treated by Ombuds Office staff and that they had a positive experience with the office. (KU Ombuds 2008-09 Report; Daily Kansan.)

Related posts: U Kansas Ombuds to Unveil Charter Document; KU Ombuds a Top "Mover and Shaker".

Call For Proposals: 10th Annual ACR Conference

The Association for Conflict Resolution will hold its tenth annual conference in Chicago, September 1-4, 2010. The conference theme, "Many Paths: One Destination," celebrates the the common goal of reaching peaceful conflict resolution and the connections across practice areas. Organizers are seeking proposals for 90-minutes workshop session and half- or full-day pre-conference trainings. The call for proposals closes on December 2 at 11:00 am (Eastern). (ACR Call for Proposals.)

Related posts:
ACR Conference (2008) Prominently Features Ombuds; 2009 ACR Conference Features Ombuds; Past UMass Ombuds to be Honored by ACR.

November 06, 2009

New Ombuds Introduced to Boston University

Last week, BU President Robert A. Brown introduced Francine Montemurro, the campus's first Ombuds at a University Management Conference. Montemurro, who served as the Ombuds for Binghamton University for 12 years, is a member of the president’s staff and reports directly to Brown. She said that her primary goal is to nip problems in the bud. “I have a colleague who is the ombuds at the UN,” she told those attending the conference. “He likes to say, ‘We want to be more like the smoke detector than the fire extinguisher.’ ” Montemurro has been a member of the IOA Board of Directors since 2007, and is a member of several IOA Standing Committees. She earned a JD from Syracuse Law School and a BA from Binghamton University. (BU Today.)

Related posts: Study Concludes Boston University Should Establish Ombuds Office; Boston University Selects First Ombuds.

November 05, 2009

Update: Jury Deliberating University of Washington Rape Case

Jurors have been given the civil case filed by a student against UW after an alleged rape by a football player. The plaintiff, known as only "S.S." in court papers, was an 18-year old freshman equipment manager who claimed she was assaulted by a former boyfriend, Roc Alexander, a member of the 2001 Rose Bowl team. Although Alexander was never charged with a crime, the plaintiff sued the university for $800,000, alleging negligence and gender discrimination. The role of the UW Ombuds, who tried to mediate between the two students, remains a relevant issue in the case. According to a local news station:
One other crucial piece of evidence got both sides arguing to the jury—a handwritten letter, signed by the plaintiff in October, 2001, saying, "With this I consider the issue I brought to the Ombudsman's office thoroughly taken care of… and closed."

More details to be posted when they become available. (King 5 TV.)

Prior post: U Washington Faces Lawsuit Despite Mediation by Ombuds.

Also following the case: Erin Buzuvis at Title IX Blog.

Portland State University Ombuds Ready for Peak Season

Sandy McDermott serves as the only Ombuds for the 24,000-student public university in Oregon. Since she serves the entire PSU community, McDermott is often the first to notice trends among the individuals who come to her for aid. A recent concern is an increasing number of students who self-identify as homeless. As she approaches the end of the calendar year, "peak season," McDermott is unable to accept walk-ins due to the high volume of cases. (PSU Daily Vanguard.)

Top 100 Influential Hispanics Includes Former Texas A&M Faculty Ombuds

Hispanic Business magazine has named Antonio Cepeda-Benito, former faculty Ombuds at Texas A&M University, to the publication’s 2009/2010 list of the nation’s 100 “most influential” Hispanics. Cepeda-Benito served as the Ombuds from 2006 until 2009, when he was promoted to dean of faculties and associate provost. (Hispanic Business; TAMU News.)

Prior post: Texas A&M Faculty Ombuds Promoted.

November 04, 2009

Southern California Ombuds Group Will Meet November 19

Theresa Prator, Ombuds for Los Angeles World Airports, will host the next Southern California Ombuds Caucus on Thursday, November 19, 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. Participants will discuss where we are as a profession and have the chance to connect with colleagues. Please RSVP to Theresa by Monday, November 16. Additional details will be available on the So Cal Ombuds Group Blog.

Job Posting: Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic Health System, one of the largest private medical centers in the world, is seeking internal applications for an Ombuds position in its Office of the Ombudsman. A bachelor's is required and three years of related experience investigating and resolving complex complaints in a medical environment is preferred. No salary or closing date indicated. (Cleveland Clinic Careers, Job Code: T26152.)

November 03, 2009

Grinnell College Considering Ombuds Office

The Faculty Executive Committee at Grinnell has formed an ad hoc task force to consider whether the College should create an Ombuds program. The Ombuds Committee was recommended by a committee charged with reviewing governance issues, which was prompted in part by a personnel matter in Student Affairs. The Ombuds Committee was formed on September 21 and the results of its work are not yet public. (Grinnell Science Division Minutes, 3/3/09; FEC Agenda, 8/21/09; FEC Minutes, 9/9/09; Science Division Minutes, 9/14/09; FEC Minutes, 9/23/09.)

Related posts: Leaked (Grinnell) Document Reveals Work of College Ombuds; Peek at the Long Playing Effort to Create an Ombuds Office at Auburn University.

Update 11/13/09: Faculty will meet November 23 to hear from the Ombuds Committee. (Grinnell Faculty News Digest.)

Both Health Care Reform Bills Would Create Ombuds Program

Progressive blogger Jon Walker observes that both versions of the House and Senate health care reform legislation would create a new health care Ombudsman program to help people deal with insurance companies. In the Senate Finance Committee bill, people would only be allowed to seek help from the Ombuds if their internal appeals last more than three months, or they were facing a life-threatening situation. The House bill puts no restrictions on when a person could seek help from the Ombuds. (FireDogLake Blog; GovTrack Bill Status for S. 1796 and HR 3962. Hat tip to John Zinsser.)

Prior post: Classical Ombuds May Have Role in Health Care Reform.

November 02, 2009

BIOA Offering Ombuds Training and Certification

The British and Irish Ombudsman Association is offering two new qualifications: Professional Award in Ombudsman and Complaint Handling Practice; and Professional Certificate in Ombudsman and Complaint Handling Practice. Both programs are offered in conjunction with Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and are aimed at practicing Classical Ombuds. The coursework for the Professional Award and Certificate is based on the 12 BIOA recommended complaint handling standards or competencies:
  1. Complaint assessment and alternatives to investigating
  2. Effective investigation
  3. Reaching and acting on findings
  4. Providing a high impact service that is responsive, transparent, empathetic, authoritative, standards based and proportionate
  5. Operating within legal and procedural frameworks
  6. Communicating effectively
  7. Producing clear, unambiguous written documents
  8. Effectively managing data
  9. Researching, managing and presenting knowledge and information from a variety of source
  10. Maintaining personal security and safety and being alert to the security of others
  11. Managing your own resources and professional development
  12. Working together and promoting diversity
The Professional Award is a four-day course; the pilot offering took place in early October. The Professional Certificate is a five-day course and will be offered twice in February 2010. Applications for the Certificate are being accepted through November; the cost is £1250 ($2,100). (BIOA Pilot Courses Brochure; BIOA Professional Certificate Application.)

Related post: British Higher Education Ombudsman Surveys Profession.

Brown University Faculty Feeling Loss of Ombuds Office

Professors and post-doctoral students at the Ivy-League university are reportedly missing the services of the Ombuds Office that closed this summer. For the past three academic years, BU employed a part-time Ombuds who handled 28 to 59 cases a year. The pilot program was deemed a success. An offer was made for a permanent Ombuds, but the candidate turned it down because the position was only part-time. Shortly thereafter, the University instituted a hiring freeze. Brown's Faculty Executive Committee still intends to hire an Ombuds, perhaps with an expanded role and hours. However the University’s financial condition makes it difficult to justify at this time according to one administrator. (Brown Daily Herald.)

Prior posts: Brown University Ombuds Issues Second Annual Report; Brown University Ombuds Office is Latest Closure.