December 30, 2010

Job Posting: Department of the Interior

The DOI Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution in Washington, DC is seeking a candidate to become the Department’s Senior Coordinator for integrated system for managing conflict and resolving disputes in the workplace known as CORE PLUS.

December 29, 2010

IOA Posts Agenda for 2011 Conference

 The International Ombudsman Association has posted the tentative agenda for its sixth annual conference in Portland, OR on April 4-6.

Number of Certified Ombuds Reaches 53

At the close of 2010, ten more Ombuds have earned the designation, "Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioners."

Chuck Howard: BP Never Had the Ombuds Office It Should Have

An article in the latest issue of Ethikos (a magazine that examines ethical and compliance issues in business) examines BP's decision to close its Office of the Ombudsman. In a year in which BP became one of the most pilloried companies in the world, the magazine wondered: "Could the timing be any worse?"

New Google Tool Shows Dominance of ‘Ombudsman’ Over Variants

Frequency of ‘Ombudsman,’ ‘Ombudsperson,’ and ‘Ombuds’ in books scanned by Google.
Google's latest tool, the Ngram Viewer, offers a way to explore data from every book that Google has scanned. The Ngram Viewer plots the frequency of user-specified terms over any time period from 1800 to the present. The results for ‘Ombudsman,’ ‘Ombudsperson,’ and ‘Ombuds’ show that the original version of the term is used most frequently and increasingly so. (Other variants, such as ‘Ombud,’ ‘Ombudswoman,’ and ‘Ombuddy’ barely register in the data.) These results seem to contradict other researchers who have concluded that ‘Ombudsman’ is falling out of favor. (Google Ngram Viewer.)

December 23, 2010

USDA Announces New Ombuds Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will implement several measures to ensure the humane treatment and slaughter of cattle processed at facilities inspected by the Food Safety and Inspection Service. These measures will include an Ombuds for FSIS employees.

Washtenaw Community College Opens Ombuds Office

The community college located in Ann Arbor, Michigan has created an Office of the Ombudsman for current and prospective students. According to minutes from the WCC Board of Trustees, the registrar, Larry Aeilts was reassigned to the position effective July 1, 2010.

December 22, 2010

Job Posting: University of California Riverside

The 20,000-student public research univesity is hiring an Ombudsperson to fill the position recently vacated by Indu Sen.  The full-time job works with students, faculty, staff, administrators and other members of the campus community.

Job Posting: University of Connecticut

The public university in Storrs is hiring a part-time University Ombuds. The balance of the work (classified as an Administrative Services Specialist II) includes managing office functions for the Director of Transportation, Logistics and Parking, including coordination of parking appeals.

December 21, 2010

Office of Personnel Management Seeks Comments on Proposed Ombuds Data Collection

The OPM Executive Secretariat is accepting comments from the general public and other federal agencies on a new information collection request for the OPM Ombudsman. The OPM Ombuds program is a resource for OPM customers and employees. The office currently requires visitors to complete a Privacy Release that enables the Ombuds to obtain relevant information and materials. In addition, the OPM Ombuds uses two optional forms: a Third Party Authorization; and a web-based Request for Assistance. 

Job Posting: University of Texas

UT is accepting applications for its first Staff Ombudsperson. The position will provide confidential, independent, informal and impartial assistance to campus staff following IOA Standards of Practice.

December 19, 2010

The Ombuds Year in Review: 2010

In the past year, IOA held its fifth annual conference, an attorney wrote the first guide for Ombuds, U.S. legislation created new federal Ombuds programs, FCO began its own training program, a campus suicide drew attention to the role of Ombuds in bullying cases, Cal Caucus resumed its annual meeting, nearly two dozen new offices opened, other Ombuds were newsworthy, certification became a reality, and several notable Ombuds passed away.

December 17, 2010

University of Texas to Open Search for First Staff Ombuds

UT President William Powers Jr. says that a search committee will begin the hiring process later this month for the University's first Staff Ombuds. An Ombuds for staff has been under consideration by Powers for nearly a year after the Staff Council set it as a top priority.

Despite Recent Success, Future Uncertain for UC Riverside Ombuds Office

As Indu Sen steps down as Director of the UCR Office of the Ombudsman after nearly three years, the prospects for the 32-year old program are unknown.

International Association for Conflict Management Seeks Submissions for Conference in Turkey

IACM is inviting papers as well as proposals for symposia and workshops for its 24th Annual Conference to be held July 3-6, 2011 in Istanbul. The event will take place at the Ceylan InterCentinental in the Taksim area and local arrangments are beein arranged by Sabanci, Koc, and Bilkent Universities.

December 15, 2010

International Baccalaureate Appoints New Ombuds

The international educational organization has named Indu Sen, the current Ombuds for the University of California, Riverside as the new IB Ombudsman effective January 1, 2011. Anthony Flatley, former head of an IB World School in Quebec, Canada and former member of the IB Board of Governors, founded the office in August 2007 and will step down at the end of the year.

Leading Whistleblower Lawyer Says Dodd-Frank Act Creates Incentive for Ombuds Programs

Jason Zuckerman, an attorney who represents whistleblowers, says that the financial reforms provide a strong incentive for employers to encourage voluntary internal disclosures of securities law violations.

Job Posting: U.S. Coast Guard

The Coast Guard is hiring an Ombudsman Program Manager in the Individual and Family Support Programs Division, Office of Work-Life, Health, Safety and Work-Life Directorate in Washington, DC. The position manages the Coast Guard-wide Ombudsman Program and develops policy, procedures and standards necessary to implement the nation-wide volunteer program.

Illinois Institute of Technology Appoints Ombuds

Vickie Tolbert has been named the Campus Ombudsperson for the 7,700-student private university in Chicago. Tolbert has worked at IIT for 15 years, initially at the office of Student Health and Counseling Services and more recently as the Administration and Operations Manager in the Dean of Students Office.

December 14, 2010

FINRA Directors Defend Ombuds Program

Three members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's board of governors said that small firms should not fear reprisals for complaints to the Ombudsman. In an email to member firms earlier this week, the three governors who represent small firms said they have heard that Finra members "are reluctant to speak with Finra supervisors when an issue arises during an exam, for fear of reprisal." The Finra governors said that the Ombuds, Cindy Foster, assured them that a firm "will never suffer a reprisal from staff for raising an issue with the ombudsman."

Ombuds Office at Southern Illinois University Carbondale Will Remain Understaffed

SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng has eliminated four positions in offices that report to her, including the Ombudsman Office. Rather than laying off a current employee, the Ombuds Office will not fill a position that has been vacant since the retirement of Lynn Connley earlier this year. Chancellor Cheng said that the cuts were necessary because SIUC began the fiscal year with a $15.3 million shortfall.

December 13, 2010

FCO/ACCUO Announces Joint Conference and Seeks Submissions

The Forum of Canadian Ombudsman and the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons will hold a joint conference in Vancouver, BC, May 16-18, 2011. The theme is, "The Ombuds Office in Canada Today: Looking Towards Tomorrow."

Ombuds for University of Colorado at Boulder Posts Biennial Report

During the two-year period ended June 30, 2010, the UBC Ombuds Office was contacted by 907 people with a total of 1,517 different issues. Staff was the largest group at 50.4%. Students and faculty comprised 24.8% and 17.4%, respectively. Data were reported using the IOA Uniform Reporting Categories.

Free Webinar on Conflict Resolution and Education with Bill Warters

Bill Warters, Wayne State University Professor and publisher of the Campus-adr Blog, will present a webinar on Conflict Resolution in Educational Settings on December 21, 2010. The free event is hosted by and takes place at 5:00 pm EST.

ICANN Ombuds Points Out -- Executive Ombuds Have No Professional Group

In his last public address as the Ombudsman for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Frank Fowlie observed that his office does into fit into either of the two prevailing models for Ombuds.

December 10, 2010

2-1-1 as a Resource for Visitor Needs Beyond the Ombuds' Scope of Services

In his latest post at the Organizational Ombudsman Blog, Clayton Gilman explains the benefits of the 211 information and referral service. Gilman says that the program has been very effective and helpful as a one stop resource for any community in the USA where community services are now needed in the aftermath of a failed negotiation or life threatening event.

Berkeley Staff Ombuds Upgrades Website

The Ombuds Office for staff issues at the University of California, Berkeley unveiled a new website yesterday.  The revised page includes links to FAQ's, annual reports, training and other services, and other resources. 

December 09, 2010

Can Bullying be Mediated?

Tom Sebok, the Ombuds for University of Colorado at Boulder, has written an essay for the Workplace Bullying Institute Blog. Sebok is wary of mediation for alleged bullies. “I believe mediation can be a useful tool in very limited cases involving bullying. I am much less sanguine about its use more broadly as a tool to reduce or eliminate workplace bullying on college campuses or anywhere else.” For those Ombuds willing to take the risk, he offers some advice.

Journal of IOA Calls for Submissions

David Miller, the Editor of the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, is seeking submissions for the forthcoming issue on “Equity and Fairness.” The topic is inspired by the contradiction implied by IOA Standard of Practice that says, "The Ombudsman advocates for fair and equitably administered processes" and the duty of neutrality.

December 08, 2010

After Three Decades, UC Irvine Ombuds Office Earns First Charter

Founded in 1978, the Office of the Ombudsman at the University of California, Irvine operated without a charter agreement until last month. Now, the office headed by Michael Chennault has a document that definitively spells out its purpose and scope of services, reporting line, standards of practice and extent of authority.

IOI Strategic Plans Parallel IOA's

In the latest issue of the International Ombudsman Institute's newsletter, newly elected President Beverley Wakem lays out her plan for the organization. Many of the strategic objectives are similar to those of the International Ombudsman Association.

December 06, 2010

Job Posting: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The United Nations agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger is hiring its first Ombudsman to work in its headquarters in Rome. The director-level position will informally address work-related conflicts and problems for the 3,600 FAO personnel and recommend improvements to the work environment.

IOA Takes Position on Proposed SEC Ombuds Program

The International Ombudsman Association has submitted a statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the new Ombudsman for the Office of the Investor Advocate that will be implemented pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act. IOA President Jennifer Moumneh's statement said:

December 05, 2010

IOA Opens Balloting for 2011 Board of Directors

The International Ombudsman Association has announced the slate for the 2011 Board of Directors election. As it has in the past, the Ombuds Blog provides links to public information about the candidates to supplement the official ballot statements.

Job Posting: University of California Berkeley

Berkeley's Staff Ombuds Office is hiring an Associate Ombudsperson. The position will provide Ombuds services to a staff population of nearly 20,000 and reports to Sara Thacker, who was recently appointed the director of the office.

Louisianna State University Ombuds Publishes Biennial Report

LSU's Ombuds, Kirsten Schwehm, reports that the number of visitors to her office has increased steadily since she opened the office in 2006. The caseload increased 32% in 2007-08 and 11% in 2008-09. There was an increase in groups of people accessing the office, as opposed to individual visitors. Schwehm also noted that the spring academic semester was the busiest time of year for office traffic.

University of Calgary Ombuds Office Goes Online

The Ombuds Office for the 30,000-student public university in Alberta unveiled a new website this week. University of Calgary Ombuds Robert Clegg said, “Offering resources on the web was an obvious way to be more accessible to students, and we’re open to suggestions on how to improve our online presence.”

December 03, 2010

University of Central Florida Ombuds Announces Retirement

Vicky Brown, who has served as the UCF Ombuds for nearly 17 years, will retire on February 1, 2011. UCF President John C. Hitt said, "Vicky is a national leader in her profession, and she has served UCF with great distinction."

December 02, 2010

University of Louisville Plans to Integrate Ombuds Into Formal Grievance Policy

Administrative changes at UofL that led to the creation of an Ombuds Office in 2009 have also prompted changes to the faculty grievance process. These changes would require a faculty grievant to attempt an informal resolution with the Ombuds. Moreover, a party that refused to participate in an Ombuds-suggested informal resolution would be reported to the administration.

Call for Participation: Transnational Employment Dispute Systems Conference

Ombuds may be interested in participating in a conference hosted by St. John’s School of Law on July 20-22, 2011, "Worlds of Work: Employment Dispute Resolution Systems Across the Globe." The symposium will bring together prominent scholars and practitioners from the fields of labor law and ADR to examine a wide array of issues surrounding the resolution of international work-related disputes.

December 01, 2010

Does the Ombuds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Intend to Follow IOA Standards?

A few weeks ago, the CPB Board of Directors approved a motion to solicit proposals for a new Ombudsman and to develop a new Charter for the CPB Office of the Ombudsman. Although the non-profit has had two Ombuds in the past, the plan is to keep the current arrangement of a single Ombuds. According to a CPB spokesperson, "Having a single ombudsman would help CPB conform with recommended standards of the United States Ombudsman Association and the International Ombudsman Association."

William Ury on TED Talks

Mediator and author, William Ury addressed the Technology Entertainment and Design conference in October. His presentation, "The walk from 'no' to 'yes'," offers an elegant introduction to neutral's ability to create agreement in even the most difficult situations. It's now available online and may be interesting to Ombuds. (TED Talks, via Campus-ADR Weblog.)

November 30, 2010

USOA to Hold 2011 Annual Conference in Jacksonville, Florida

The United States Ombudsman Association has announced that its thirty-first annual meeting will take place at the Crowne Plaza Jacksonville Riverfront Hotel on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 through Friday, October 28, 2011. As usual, there will be two days of pre-conference workshops on Monday, October 26 and Tuesday, October 27. Additional details will be forthcoming. (USOA.)

November 29, 2010

American University of Beirut Receives Funding for New Ombuds Office

The secular, private university in Lebanon has received a grant that will fund, in part, a proposed Ombuds program for the medical campus. An Ombuds program has been under consideration at AUB since at least 2004, when female faculty lobbied for an "an ombudsman office for addressing faculty concerns anonymously." In a November 2009 report to the University's trustees, AUB President Peter F. Dorman backed an Organizational Ombuds program for faculty, staff and students as a supplement for a updated grievance and harassment policy.

OO Blogger Predicts Growing Work for Ombuds in 2011

In his latest post at the Organizational Ombudsman Blog, Clayton Gilman finds reason to be optimistic about the Ombuds field next year. He believes the current economic conditions provide opportunity and a demand for Ombuds working with individuals, groups and small organizations.

November 23, 2010

Job Posting: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

ICANN has opened a search for an experienced professional Ombudsman. The winning candidate will have the responsibility of managing the Ombudsman conflict resolution program, fielding and resolving issues and complaints arising from the Internet community, and acting as a functional partner to augment and enhance the mission and goals of ICANN.

Ombuds at University of Western Ontario Explains Conflict of Interest Policy

A recent article in the UWO newspaper explains the University's conflict of interest policy. Jennifer Meister, Acting UWO Ombudsperson, offered her own example of dealing with a conflict:

Tips for Handling Defensiveness In High Conflict People

Ombuds regularly deal with and coach others to deal with high conflict people (HCPs). Attorney, therapist and mediator, Bill Eddy says HCPs are driven primarily by unconscious defensiveness. Understanding this will avoid frustration and prompting more bad behavior. Eddy says that HCPs' behavior is rooted in a Mistaken Assessment of Danger. The HCP perceives a threat and is trying to protect him or herself.

November 22, 2010

Cleveland State University Names Permanent Ombuds But Fails to Allocate Resources

Engineering professor Rama Gorla, PhD, has been appointed as Ombudsperson for CSU Ohio. The announcement completes the process of restoring the the Ombuds Office promised earlier this year by CSU President Ronald Berkman. Gorla will be paid a modest stipend to assist faculty, staff and students part time, but has no budget or staff.

Video Interview With Cornell Ombuds

Cornell has posted a lengthy interview with Linda Falkson, who has served as Assistant Ombudsman for 2½ years. The 19 minute video covers a wide range of topics including Falkson's career path and personal interests, the ethical tenets of her practice, the history of Cornell's Ombuds Office, and the types of cases she handled.