April 01, 2010

Update: University of Texas President Asks for Recommendation on Staff Ombuds

After several years of interest in an Ombuds to “represent” staff, UT Austin President Bill Powers has asked Staff Council Chair Ben Bond to review the subject and make a recommendation. 

UT already has an Ombuds for faculty and students. The Staff Council has already appointed an ad hoc committee to study the Ombuds proposal and is expected to prepare a report by May. (Tower Talk.)

This sounds like a promising development that will bring UT in line with many other research universities that have Organizational Ombuds programs for their entire campus. The predominant model of university Ombuds programs is a unified service for faculty, staff and students. Rarely does an issue or conflict involve only one of these subgroups. Therefore, it makes sense to have Ombudsperson who are able to work with all constituents. Most university Ombuds also practice to the IOA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice which mandate four essential characteristics: confidentiality, neutrality, independence and informality. For these reasons, university Ombuds should not be seen as “representing” individuals or the institution.

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