October 30, 2010

ICANN Ombuds Will Step Down

Frank Fowlie, the Ombudsman for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has announced that he will leave his position on or before January 31, 2011. Fowlie established the ICANN Ombuds program in 2004 and has emerged as an expert in the areas of on-line dispute resolution and Ombuds office assessment.

University of Pennsylvania Updates Ombuds Website

The webpage for Penn's Office of the University Ombudsman received a complete overhaul. The new site provides significantly more detail about the office's services, principles, and staff. The four core tenets for Organizational Ombuds -- independence, informality, neutrality & impartiality, and confidentiality -- are carefully outlined.

October 28, 2010

The Difference Between an Ombuds and a Mediator

In the latest excerpt from an video interview, Howard Gadlin, the Ombudsman at the National Institutes of Health, discusses the difference between the roles of a mediator and an Ombuds.

Job Posting: FINRA

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc., is hiring a Case Manager for its Office of the Ombudsman. The position is responsible for responding to inquiries, reviewing complaints related to FINRA operations, and working with other FINRA staff to identify appropriate resolutions.

Job (Re-)Posting: MD Anderson Cancer Center

The medical center in Houston has reposted its opening for an experienced Ombuds with some notable revisions.

October 27, 2010

University of Louisville Hires ADR Expert to Head Ombuds Office

Kentucky's flagship public university has appointed Tony Belak, a prominent mediation and dispute resolution expert, to head its Office of the Ombuds. Belak will take over from Dennis Hall, who has served as UofL's interim Ombudsperson since the office was established in 2009 in response to an embezzlement scandal involving a former dean and allegations of a broken grievance process.

Saint Louis University Appoints Ombuds

The private Jesuit university in Missouri has named Cari Wickliffe as its next Ombudsperson for students, replacing John-Herbert Jaffry. She will continue to serve as Interim Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Director of Student Financial Services.

October 26, 2010

Journal of IOA Highlights Bullying Issues

The fourth issue of the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association focuses on bullying in organizations. In his forward, JIOA Editor in Chief David Miller notes that, “Ombudsmen have crucial advantages in enabling characterisation, definition and responses to reported bullying in organisations."

North Florida Community College Appoints New Ombuds

NFCC has named Sharon Brave Heart as its Student Ombudsman, replacing David Paulk. Brave Heart has taught a variety of accounting and business classes at the public community college in Madison, Florida.

Former Sandia Ombuds Will Address Colorado ADR Conference

Wendell Jones, who served as the Ombudsperson at Sandia National Laboratories for 11 years, will be the plenary speaker at the Fourth Annual Colorado Statewide ADR Conference, "Evolving Frontiers of ADR."

October 25, 2010

Job Posting: University of California San Francisco

The leading health science graduate school and medical center is hiring its first University Ombudsperson. The position will direct all aspects of the UCSF Ombuds Office and provide independent, neutral, confidential and informal assistance to faculty, staff and students in compliance with IOA standards.

Job Posting: Apollo Group

The parent corporation of the University of Phoenix is hiring an Associate Ombudsperson. The full-time position will provide, "confidential, impartial, and informal assistance to any Apollo staff that has concerns or conflicts that affect their work life." The Apollo Ombuds office is located in Phoenix, AZ and reports to the Chief Executive Officer.

October 22, 2010

Education Law Expert Explains Why Schools Should Have Ombuds

In an article for the American School Board Journal, Edwin C. Darden says that, "one important way school districts can help residents feel heard is to appoint an official ombudsman." He notes that most school Ombuds work in large, urban school districts, but argues that the benefits are of equal value to a suburban or rural school district.

Coke Ombuds Addresses International Bar Association

Earlier this week, David Talbott, an Ombuds for Coca Cola Enterprises, Inc., was a panelist at the IBA 2010 Annual Conference in Vancouver, BC. The session co-chair, F. Peter Phillips, an international commercial arbitrator and mediator, summarized Talbott's remarks.

Job Posting: American Red Cross

The Red Cross is hiring an Intake Coordinator & Program Analyst for its Office of the Corporate Ombudsman. The position provides professional and technical support for the Ombuds program -- generating and preparing data and data-related reports, performing research, and designing and implementing project plans.

October 20, 2010

Audit by University of Virginia Finds No Record of Bullying, Upholds Role of Ombuds

An internal audit by UVA has found that the University took "appropriate actions" in handling a situation earlier this year at the Virginia Quarterly Review in which an employee committed suicide. The case drew national attention when the decedent's relatives and friends alleged that the suicide had resulted from bullying by the managing editor of the award-winning journal. Now the University is defending its actions and is reiterating that it would have had no notice of complaints heard by the Ombuds.

Montana State University Ombuds Reports Robust Growth in Cases

Nancy G. Dodd, the University Ombuds for MSU, says that she handled 90 cases in 2009-10, a 29% increase over the prior year. Dodd found that number and percentage of visitors who are professional employees continued to trend higher. She theorizes that this is due to changes in the economy that have reduced job security for staff.

University of Western Ontario Appoints Interim Ombuds

The public research university located in London, Ontario has named Jennifer Meister as its Acting Ombudsperson. Meister is filling in for UWO's Ombuds, Adrienne Clarke, through September 2011.

Settlement of Class Action Filed by American Indian Farmers Will Create New Federal Ombuds Program

A class action lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Agriculture by Native American farmers alleging discrimination from 1981 to 1999. According to the terms of the settlement, which is expected to be confirmed by the federal court, a new Ombuds program will be created to address farm program issues relating to Native American farmers and ranchers as well as all other socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

October 19, 2010

Fully Staffed UN Ombuds Program Issues Report on 2009 Activities

In its second annual report, United Nations Office of the Ombudsman and Mediation Services said that all staff positions have been filled. Regional Ombuds and case officers have been appointed to stations in Bangkok, Geneva, Khartoum, Kinshasa, Nairobi, Santiago and Vienna. Case volume continues to grow as the Ombuds and Mediation Programs become better known: 1,287 cases were opened in 2009, and there was a 33% increase in the first five months of 2010.

October 18, 2010

Oregon State University Will Create an Ombuds Program

At his annual "State of the University" address, OSU President Ed Ray said that the university is on firm financial ground despite the state's budget woes. The institution has been bolstered by tuition from nearly 2,000 additional students and expects become more independent of the state government. The budgetary improvement will allow OSU to hire more faculty and, for the first time, an Ombudsperson.

October 15, 2010

Friday Poll: Should Organizational Ombuds Disclose Their Interests?

The Legal Ombudsman is an independent service for complaints about lawyers in England and Wales that opened its doors on October 6. The service is independent and impartial. Although it is empowered to conduct formal investigations, it seeks to resolve complains informally. The office employs ten professionals, including eight Ombuds. One unique feature of the program is a detailed, quarterly disclosure of interests that may conflict with their work -- board interests, self employment, charities, public appointments, political activity, membership, close family links, etc. This level of disclosure is unprecedented in the Ombuds profession. No other Classical or Organizational Ombuds publishes potential conflicts of interest. On the other hand, many professional mediators indicate their interests for potential customers.  (Legal Ombudsman UK; BBC News.)

Organizational Ombuds share the same duty of independence and impartiality. However, most do not disclose potential conflicts until they become apparent and then usually only verbally. Do you think Organizational Ombuds should be more proactive about disclosing their interests?
  • Yes, this is an important issue.
  • No, I disclose verbally if needed.
  • No, my public profile is sufficient.
  • No, my private life is private.
Comments are always welcome in addition.
Prior: Friday Polls.

Texas Ombuds to Host Chuck Howard at November Meeting

The author of The Organizational Ombudsman: Origins, Roles and Operations—A Legal Guide will be the guest speaker at the next Ombuds of Texas meeting. Howard will talk about the issues facing Ombuds today. The meeting takes place at Department of State Health Services in Austin on November 10, 2010.

University of Cincinnati Ombuds Seeks Closer Ties to Student Leaders

Jean Griffin, Associate Ombuds at the UC Ombuds Office, reached out to the Undergraduate Student Government this week hoping to improve relations between the two campus entities. In a presentation , Griffin said that demographic and trend data from the Ombuds could help to student leaders identify issues. The Ombuds Office would then help Student Government find ways to solve problems.

Students at Clark University Petition for Employee Ombuds

Workers at the private research university in Worcester, MA went out on strike this week, complaining about low wages, unaffordable health plans, and a pattern of intimidation and coercion by the vendor who employs them, Sedexo. Clark students, faculty, staff and alumni, and local political leaders are calling on the university to allow the workers to unionize and to implement other reforms including the creation of an Ombuds for employees. (SEIU Blog.)

October 14, 2010

Update: BP Ombuds Comments on Decision to Shut Down Office

The Anchorage Daily News says that BP Ombudsman Stanley Sporkin was interviewed earlier this week regarding the decision to close his office next summer. Although ADN provided only a few quotes from Sporkin, he did not criticize the company or the Ombuds program he founded.

Job Posting: Cleveland Metropolitan School District

Ohio's largest school district is hiring two Ombudsman Specialists for its Office of the Ombudsman. The primary role for these new positions is "to understand and seek to resolve concerns raised by parents and guardians of children enrolled in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District." According to its website, the CMSD Ombuds Office is "fair, impartial and confidential."

Interview With University of Central Florida Ombuds

Vicky Brown, who founded the UCF Ombuds Office in 1994, is profiled in the campus newspaper. Brown explains that a primary objective is identifying options for her visitors. "If you come here with a huge problem, I can help break it down in several parts," she said. "I can help you imagine different outcomes if you don't know which way to go."

October 13, 2010

Washington University in St. Louis Appoints First Ombuds

The private research university in Missouri has named Susan Frelich Appleton, a Professor of Law, as its first Ombuds for faculty-related conflicts or concerns. Professor Emeritus of Political Science James W. Davis will serve as her associate. During the pilot phase of the program Appleton will serve faculty members with appointments on the Danforth Campus.

October 12, 2010

Job Posting: Southern University

The private, historically black college in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is hiring its first permanent Ombuds to provide confidential informal assistance to students and to advise the University Administration regarding its policies and practices affecting students. This position will direct the SUBR Office of the Ombudsperson; manage the "one-stop-shop" help desk; and serve as the Chairperson of the Ombudsperson Advisory Committee.

October 11, 2010

BP Closing Its Ombuds Office

Various news agencies are reporting that BP will shutter its Office of the Ombudsman effective June 2011. The decision comes less than two weeks after the petrochemical giant announced it was setting up a new, beefed-up internal safety function and months after the company denied targeting the Ombuds for closure.

Shawnee State University Restores Ombuds Program

The 4,300-student public university in southern Ohio has reopened the Ombuds program that was closed in 2003 due to lack of demand for services. John Whitaker, PhD, a popular Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics, has been named to the position.

October 08, 2010

Ombuds for African Development Bank Outlines Plans to Improve Services

In a just-released interview, AfDB Ombuds Amabel Orraca-Ndiaye said she will make a number of changes to make her office more effective. She explained that her aim is to involve a wider number of people in nurturing a more peaceful and harmonious work place environment.

University of Texas Ombuds Sees Another Jump in Faculty Cases

Mary Steinhardt, the Faculty Ombuds at UT Austin, reports handing 58 cases in the 2009-10 academic year, a 26% increase from the prior year. According to her report to the faculty senate, Steinhardt resolved nearly 90% of the cases last year through mediation, counseling and coaching.

October 07, 2010

Follow the USOA 2010 Conference on Twitter

The United States Ombudsman Association 31st annual meeting is in full swing in Dayton, Ohio. A few of the participants are using Twitter to comment on the proceedings including Wendy Ray and Sue Haslam of the Ontario Ombudsman Office.  Follow them using the #USOA hashtag.

Despite Relatively Calm Year, University of Iowa Ombuds Report Record Caseload

The Ombuds at UI, Cynthia Joyce and Susan Johnson, were somewhat surprised by a record number of visitors, 517, during the last academic year. After the two prior years which saw a campus flood and budget impacts from the worldwide financial crises economic collapse, the 2009–10 academic year seemed calmer to the Ombuds. But cases were up 6% nonetheless.

October 06, 2010

Job Posting: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The U.S. Department of Defense agency that collects and analyzes satellite imagery is hiring an Ombudsman for its headquarters in Bethesda, MD. The position functions as an Organizational and Executive Ombuds informally, independently, objectively and confidentially addressing NGA-related concerns received from internal and external sources. The position reports directly to the NGA Inspector General.

New Ombuds at Florida Gulf Coast University

After a prolonged search to replace the founding Ombuds, Charles McKinney, FGCU has hired Helen Mamarchev to serve as Assistant to the President and University Ombudsman.

Ombuds at University of South Carolina Posts Fourth Annual Report

Jim Augustine, the University Ombuds at USC, has published a report on his activities for the year ended August 31, 2010. The report highlights Augustine's efforts to raise awareness of faculty bullying on his campus, within the Southeastern Conference Academic Consortium, and as part of IOA training.

October 05, 2010

Northwestern Appoints First Faculty Ombuds for New Ombuds Program

With the appointment of three volunteer faculty Ombudsmen, Northwestern University has established its first Ombuds program. The new Ombuds are Albert Farbman and Neena Schwartz, from the Department Neurobiology & Physiology; and Irwin Weil, from the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature.

October 04, 2010

Pennsylvania State Faculty Ombuds Issues Annual Report

The faculty Ombuds program at PSU, which comprises dozens of college and campus Ombuds and a University Ombudsperson, has issued its annual report for the 2009-10 academic year. The Ombuds program handled 44 in the last year, compared to 46 in 2007-08 and 43 in 2006-07.

October 01, 2010

Update: Amherst School District Adopts Organizational Ombuds Model

Last month the Amherst Regional Public Schools appointed Barry Brooks as its first Ombuds. The appointment was received positively by the community, but the new Ombuds role was only vaguely defined. Now, ARPS has created a website for the District Ombudsman that explicitly defines an Organizational model.

Howard County Schools' Ombuds Reports 100 Cases Last Year

Rose Dennison, the Ombuds for the Howard County Public School System, handled 100 cases in the past year according to a report delivered to the Board of Education last week. The caseload for the 2009-10 school year increased 16% from the prior year.

Navy Increases Childcare Benefit for Ombuds

As Navy spouses, most Navy Ombuds have easy access to free childcare.  In some situations, however, Navy childcare is not available.  Recognizing the significant time commitment the volunteer Ombuds make, the Navy has now authorized local commands to reimburse Ombuds for local child care at market rates.