December 29, 2011

IOA Announces Keynote Speakers for 2012 Conference

The International Ombudsman Association has announced that its annual conference in Houston will feature keynote speeches by: Michael Dues, Sherry D. Williams, and David Yamada. The seventh annual IOA conference is set for April 15-18, 2012, in Houston, Texas.

Premier Education Group Opens Ombuds Office

The privately held company that operates 19 vocational education institutes in the Northeast has added a webpage for a Student Ombudsman. The site says that the role of Ombuds, "is to assist our students in addressing any concerns that weren’t resolved at the campus level." 

Sacramento Association of Realtors Implements Ombuds Program

The realtor group for the California state capital has unveiled an Ombudsman service. It appears that the program follows the National Association of Realtors standards, which is based on the IOA standards of confidentiality, neutrality, independence and informality. One potential deviation is the role of the Ombuds as a complainant's representative at an ethics mediation.

December 21, 2011

Algonquin College Appoints an Ombuds

George E. Cole was appointed in September to be the next Ombudsman for Algonquin.  According to the recently updated website for his office, Cole has worked for many years in higher education as an administrator and faculty member.

December 20, 2011

The Ombuds Year in Review: 2011 (Part II)

This is the second installment of the top ten Ombuds stories of the year. The series will conclude on December 22.

December 19, 2011

Article Spotlights Work of Ombuds in San Diego

The San Diego Union-Tribune recently profiled Ombuds at four local universities. The newest is Derrick Crawford, who became the first Ombudsperson at California State University San Marcos earlier this year. Crawford serves the entire campus and also handles diversity and educational equity issues.

Michigan State University Selects Next Ombuds

The MSU trustees will soon consider the recommendation of Robert Caldwell to serve as the next University Ombudsperson. “Through his many years of service, Bob has demonstrated his long-term commitment to students on campus,” said MSU Provost Kim Wilcox. “By way of that commitment, he has earned wide respect from students, staff and faculty.”

UK Student Services Organization Skeptical About University Ombuds

AMOSSHE says that it is not convinced UK universities can introduce campus Ombuds programs, "that genuinely inspires user confidence that they are independent of the institution." Moreover, given the complaint systems that is already in place in England and Wales, AMOSSHE is not persuaded that adding an Ombuds component would be beneficial to institutions or complainants.

December 16, 2011

Longtime Sandia Ombuds Retires

Don Noack, who has served as the Corporate Ombudsman at Sandia National Laboratories for over 15 years, has announced that he will be retiring on December 23. Noack worked at Sandia for nearly 35 years and was very active in the Ombuds profession. In addition to giving conference presentations and trainings for IOA, Noack served on the Board of Directors and was Secretary in 2010. 

IOA Updates Course Offering for Santiago

The International Ombudsman Association has changed the specialized course it will offer offer in Santiago, Chile on January 18, 2012. The new course is: "The Power of Influence: The hidden strength of ADR to advance fairness and justice."

Journal Article Traces Ombuds History

An article by McKenna Lang in the Journal of Conflictology looks at the history of the Ombudsman institution. In "A Western King and an Ancient Notion: Reflections on the Origins of Ombudsing," Lang writes about how the Swedish King Charles XII started this enduring role in 1713. 

December 15, 2011

The Ombuds Year in Review: 2011 (Part I)

Overall, the past year has been a positive one for Organizational Ombuds profession. Several of the top stories of this year echo those of 2010. The list will be posted in three installments: today, December 20 and December 22.

December 14, 2011

Job Posting: University of California Merced

The newest UC campus (established in 2005), is hiring its first Ombuds. The position will serve as the director of the office, which will be a resource for students, faculty, staff and other university stakeholders. The campus currently has 5,000 students and is expected to grow to 25,000.

Review of Chuck Howard's Book at

James McRitchie, the publisher of the corporate governance site, has reviewed Charles Howard's book, "The Organizational Ombudsman: Origins, Roles and Operations-A Legal Guide." McRitchie's interest was piqued by the recent panel discussions about Governance Ombuds hosted by the Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University.

December 13, 2011

Past and Present Ombuds Defend University of Iowa Office

Lois Cox, the former UI Faculty Ombudsperson wrote an editorial that was published by the Iowa City Press Citizen on Friday, December 9. Cox responded directly to recent criticism that the Office of the Ombudsperson failed to sufficiently resolve cases of bullying.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Opens Ombuds Office

The federal agency that holds primary responsibility for regulating consumer protection in the U.S. has created an Ombudsman's Office to assist in the resolution of individual and systemic issues for depository and non-depository entities, and consumers.  Wendy Kamenshine has been appointed the Acting Ombudsman.

December 12, 2011

American University in Cairo Names First Ombuds

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Hanan Sabea has been appointed as the first Ombuds for the independent and sectarian university in Egypt. In an interview with the school newspaper, Sabea said that she will be defining her position from scratch. "It is not necessarily going to be the same role as ombuds in other universities in America," she said.

Update: University of Iowa President Speaks Out on Behalf of Ombuds Office

According to the Associated Press, University of Iowa President Sally Mason says she supports the Office of the Ombuds, despite a recent article that says it had "failed" to resolve bullying cases.  However, Mason also said that the university routinely reviews its operations so they can be improved.

Jeffrey Dvorkin Says Ombuds Must Adapt

Jeffrey Dvorkin, the Executive Director of the Organization of News Ombudsmen, says that the Occupy Wall Street movement presents a unique opportunity for Ombuds. Dvorkin observes that Ombuds of all types help create cultures of trust, candor and accountability. In particular, he acknowledges that, "value of corporate ombudsmen is evident: ombudsmen can act as an early warning system when financial and media organizations lose their sense of obligation to shareholders and/or the public." Nonetheless, he says, more needs to be done.

Job Posting: International Organization for Migration

The intergovernmental organization that promotes international cooperation on migration issues is hiring an Ombudsman for its office in Geneva. The position is within the IOM Office of the Director General and serves as a resource for employment-related problems of staff members. The one-year appointment starts March 2012 and operates in accordance with IOA Standards of Practice.

December 08, 2011

Oregon State University Names First Ombuds

The public research university in Corvallis has appointed Sue Theiss as its first University Ombuds. Theiss has been the Ombuds at the University of Arkansas since 2002 and previously was the Ombuds at the University of Arizona. She will report to the OSU President and begins her appointment on February 13, 2012.

Werner Institute Student Interns With University of Minnesota Ombuds

The latest issue of the Werner Institute Newsletter features an article about a student practicum at the University of Minnesota Student Conflict Resolution Center. Ombuds and Director of the UM SCRC, Jan Morse agreed to take on Werner student Janda Brittain as her first-ever intern.

December 07, 2011

Job Posting: Kaiser Permanente San Jose

KP is hiring a full-time Health Care Ombuds/Mediator for its facility in San Jose, CA. The Kaiser HCOM, "functions as a trained alternative dispute professional offering patients, family members, staff & providers a conflict management program to resolve patient/provider healthcare disputes early thereby improving patient safety & reducing the costs of health care dispute resolution."

December 05, 2011

AP Report Maligns University of Iowa Ombuds Office (Editorial)

A December 4 story by the Associated Press repeats a complaint by a local attorney that the UI Office of the Ombudsperson is “failing” to resolve bullying complaints.

The article puts this disparaging and misleading spin on the work of the UI Ombuds:

Journal of IOA Explores Issues of Confidentiality

The latest issue of the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association looks at the fundamental ethical duty of confidentiality. JIOA Editor David Miller says, “the provision of a safe place in which options for action and response can safely be heard, away from the clamour of police sirens and media-fuelled public approbation, can help to protect the individual and public interest by ensuring that matters have a greater likelihood of swift resolution.”

Red Cross Appoints Associate Ombuds

This post has been deleted. 

December 02, 2011

Job Posting: Pomona College

The private, liberal arts college in Claremont, CA is hiring its first Ombudsperson. The half-time position will report directly to the President of the College and will serve a campus population of about 2,100 faculty, students, and staff.

Election Opens for 2012 IOA 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.

November 30, 2011

Relocation of Ombuds at University of Western Ontario Raises Concerns

Administrators at UWO are displacing the Office of the Ombudsperson to make room for another program and moving the office to another, smaller space nearby. Jennifer Meister, the Ombudsperson, told the OWO Gazette that the move could compromise her ability to accommodate visitors. “The [new] offices end up being nine feet by nine feet. Once you get furniture in there, it’s difficult to meet with a group of students, or with a student and a parent or with anyone in a wheelchair in that small a space,” Meister explained.

Lee Preston: Former University of Maryland Ombuds

The former Ombudsman for Faculty and Staff at the University of Maryland, Lee E. Preston passed away on November 22, 2011. Preston served as the Ombuds from 2004 until 2010 after he retired from his faculty position in 1998. Preston had academic distinguished career after earning a PhD in economics from Harvard: he was the author or co-author of about 200 publications on management. A memorial service is planned for December 4 in College Park. (Smith School News.)

University of Texas Faculty Ombuds Caseload Eases

Mary Steinhardt, the Faculty Ombudsperson at UT Austin, says that she assisted 48 faculty members in 2010-11, down from 58 in the prior year. In addition, she began serving visitors holding postdoctoral fellowship appointments and assisted two in this category.

November 29, 2011

University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Opens Ombuds Office

The newest campus in the USF system has established an Office of the Student Ombudsman. Judith Sedgeman serves as the first Ombuds for a student body of 4,500. According to its website, the USF Sarasota-Manatee Ombuds "is accountable to the Regional Chancellor and serves as an alternate resource for students complementing existing channels of information and support."

Iowa State University Ombuds Posts Report for 2011

Elaine Newell, Ombuds Officer for ISU, says that the caseload for her office declined slightly one year after the campus struggled with layoffs and reorganizations. The total number of cases in the 2011 fiscal year declined 23% to 79. Professional and Scientific employees again were the most frequent visitors to the Ombuds Office this year, but also there was an increase in the number of faculty visitors.

November 28, 2011

IOA Offers Ombuds Training in Santiago

The International Ombudsman Association will offer its signature training for Organizational Ombuds in conjunction with the United Nations in Santiago, Chile on January 15-18, 2012.  The offerings will include the 2½-day Ombuds 101 and a specialized course.

FINRA Offers Spring 2012 Externship

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is offering an unpaid externship in its Rockville, MD office. The extern will work with FINRA Ombuds staff in the spring 2012 semester for 15-20 hours per week.

ICANN Ombuds Explains a Non-confidential Mediation

Chris LaHatte, the Ombudsman for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, blogs about a recent mediation that was not confidential. He acknowledges that, while most mediations are confidential, the parties in this particular case wanted the mediation recorded so it would be available for review.

November 25, 2011

University of KwaZulu-Natal Opens First Ombuds Office

The top-tier South African university has created an Organizational Ombuds office and appointed former SA Chief Justice Pius Nkonzo Langa as the first Ombud. According to its terms of reference, the UKZN Ombuds Office serves more than 40,000 students, staff and academic staff. UKNZ is home to the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association, which is primiarily composed of Classical Ombuds, but the Ombuds Office explicitly practices to IOA standards for Organizational Ombuds.

Association of Ombudsmen and Mediators of La Francophonie Elects New Leader

Senegalese Ombudsman, Serigne Diop, has been elected to lead the association for meditors and Ombuds in French-speaking countries. The announcement was made at the AOMF conference in Luxembourg on Wednesday. Diop is a professor of Constitutional law and a former Senegalese minister and he was elected unanimously. (Afrique en Ligne.)

Connecticut Law Tribune: Ombuds Offer Option for Whistleblowers

The latest article by Chuck Howard appears in the Connecticut Law Tribune.  Howard explains that Organizational Ombuds offer significant benefits for potential whistleblowers.

November 23, 2011

Job Posting: Coca-Cola Refreshments

The American multinational beverage corporation is hiring a full-time Ombudsman. The position provides a wide range of professional support to the office, including working with associates to develop options for resolving problems, identifying organizational systemic issues that are causing conflict, and participating in mediation sessions in California and Canada.

November 22, 2011

Goethe University Creates Ombuds for Doctoral Issues

The Graduate Academy of the leading German university has appointed Henner Büsching as its first Ombudperson for doctoral students and supervisors. The position "acts as a confidential advisor and mediator to whom doctoral students and their supervisors can turn to in case of conflicts surrounding their doctoral projects."

Northern Illinois University Ombuds Posts Annual Report

Tim D. Griffin, University Ombudsman at NIU, reports that his office provided advice and assistance to 1,025 individuals during the year ended May 15, 2011. Griffin said that, "The number of people contacting the Office of the Ombudsman over the past year for assistance regarding matters related to class instruction was considerably higher than the prior year." The majority of visitors were students (71%), but the office was also consulted by faculty (10%), staff (10%), and family members (6%).

November 21, 2011

Algoma University Reappoints Ombuds

Cheryl Henshaw has been reappointed the Ombudsperson for Algoma University. Henshaw opened the Ombuds Office for the undergraduate university in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario last summer. She previously served as the Ombuds for the University of Windsor. (Algoma Staff.)

Michigan County Court Launches Pilot Ombuds Program

The Oakland County Circuit Court has appointed an Ombudsman to serve as a liaison between the judiciary and local attorneys for a six month trial period. Joel H. Serlin, an attorney with "a stellar reputation as a lawyer, mediator and arbitrator" will serve as the Ombuds. He will seek to address and facilitate issues and concerns raised by attorneys regarding active matters before the court.

Ombuds of Texas Posts Details of Mentoring Program

Earlier this year, the regional, multidisciplinary Ombuds group launched a mentoring program to match for developing Ombuds with experienced practitioners. The OOT website now provides details of how the program works. It is the organization's desire that the mentor and mentee both grow personally and professionally as a result of participating in the OOT Mentoring Program.

November 18, 2011

Minnesota Department of Transportation Creates Ombuds for Employees

Mn/DOT has appointed Wendy Friede as its first-ever Employee Ombudsman. In her role as employee ombudsman, Friede will serve as a complement to department’s current formal resources, rather than a competitor or duplicate. “If you know where to go and feel comfortable going there, go directly there,” Friede said. “If you’re not comfortable with those resources and want someone to talk to, the employee ombudsman is an option for you.

Texas Tech Ombuds Uses Facebook to Reach Campus

The Ombuds Office at the Texas Tech University launched a Facebook page at the end of October 2011. The page provides information about the office and periodic reminders of important campus dates. A recent update stressed that the Facebook page is strictly informational and that the office strives to uphold IOA's Standards of Practice. (TTU Ombuds Facebook.)

November 17, 2011

Job Re-Posting: Internal Revenue Service

The IRS has reopened its search for a Director for its Proactive Resolution and Ed Division, a new program that will engage in conflict prevention outside of the EEO complaint and union grievance processes. In addition to overseeing several dispute resolution processes, the position will serve as the Organizational Ombudsman for IRS personnel.