June 30, 2010

University of Ottawa Publishes Ombuds Terms of Reference

Subsequent to appointing its first Ombuds, the University of Ottawa has posted the chartering document for the program. The document specifies an Organizational Ombuds model that serves all members of the uOttawa community.

The Terms of Reference were approved by the Senate of the University and the Board of Governors of the University and the Student Unions in May 2009, long before the job search was conducted. (uOttawa Administration and Governance.)


  1. Hello Tom. I was curious about the statement that the chartering document at U of Ottawa specifies an Organizational Ombuds model. I didn't see the word "organizational" in the document. Was it used somewhere else?

    I also noticed that you no longer have a link to the ACCUO information on "Developing Terms of Reference for the Ombuds: a Sample of Clauses from Canadian College and University Ombuds" available at http://www.uwo.ca/ombuds/assoc.htm
    (I think you had it before?)

    Your site features a definition of "organizational" and reference to IOA SoPs, so I assume these are your benchmarks for "organizational". The charter document for the ombuds office at U of Ottawa goes beyond those definitions to include roles consistent with the Canadian approach (e.g. investigation, written recommendations) that do not seem to be part of the IOA approach to "organizational" as an "informal" mechanism (e.g. SoP 4.2 or 4.5). So I'm also a little confused about the use and the meaning of "organizational" in this post.

    Thanks for clarifying. Best,


  2. Martine-
    You have picked up on the change in my personal definition of "organizational ombuds" which has been expanding since I started this blog. You are correct that the UofO charter does not include the word "organizational" and also includes other features more typical of Canadian ombuds programs. Nonetheless, I feel that an "organizational" designation is appropriate because the UofO ombuds serves only the university community while following the tenants of confidentiality, neutrality and informality. Yes, the charter does give the ombuds power to conduct investigations, but this seems to be available in exceptional circumstances. On balance, there is more in common with other "organizational ombuds" than not. I probably also should point out that these reflect only my own evolving perspective and not that of IOA or anyone less in particular.
    As for the ACCUO document, I can't recall why or when it was dropped from the page. I did some remodeling recently and that may have been an inadvertent result. I'll return it shortly. Thanks for pointing that out and thank you for the thoughtful feedback. I'm very honored that you read my blog.