January 31, 2011

Pfizer Agrees to Create Ombuds Program for Employees

In December 2010, the world's largest pharmaceutical company agreed to settle a shareholder lawsuit arising out of allegation of the illegal marketing of at least 13 of Pfizer's most important drugs. In addition to governance changes in financial considerations, the proposed settlement also provides for, "the establishment of an Ombudsman Program as an alternative channel to address employee concerns about legal or regulatory issues."

Jackson Community College Names First Ombuds

The community college in southern Michigan has appointed Leigh Ann Swihart as its first Student Ombudsman. Swihart has served as JCC's Head Coach for volleyball since fall 2007. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in kinesiology, where she began her coaching career in 1999. The website for the new Ombuds office is already online. (JCC Ombuds, Coach Profile.)

Ryerson University Ombuds Explains Slight Decline in Cases

In her annual report covering the 2009-10 academic year, Ryerson University Ombudsperson Nora Farrell said that the number of cases from the student body of 33,000 fell to 579. The total was down from 586 in the prior year and 606 in 2006-07.

Update: Town of Chapel Hill Will Involve UNC Ombuds in Creating New Office

The Daily Tar Heel is reporting that the Town of Chapel Hill will work with Wayne Blair to establish a new Ombuds Office for municipal employees. Blair moved to Chapel Hill in 2005 when he was hired to create an Ombuds Program for the University of North Carolina. Town council members have also asked Blair for help in recruiting and training an Ombuds. Blair said the search would be national. (Daily Tar Heel.)

January 28, 2011

Houston Community College Names New Ombuds

Christena Alcorn has been appointed as the new Ombuds for the Texas community college system. Alcorn serves as a resource for about 3,500 faculty, staff and administrators and succeeds Remmele Young, who established the office in 2007.

January 25, 2011

Northeastern University Appoints First Ombuds

The private, 20,000-student research university in Boston has named Donna M. Bishop as its first Ombuds. According to an organizational chart, the University Ombuds reports to the Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Additional details about the new program have not been published.

University of California Riverside Names Interim Ombuds

UCR has appointed Andrew Larratt-Smith as its Interim Ombudsperson while it conducts a search for a permanent candidate. Larratt-Smith recently earned his JD from UCLA Law School and MDRS from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University. He was the winner of the IOA student writing competition for his paper, "An Ethical Privilege: The Case for a Statutory Privilege for the Organizational Ombuds." (UCR Ombuds.)

January 24, 2011

Bauhaus-Universität Weimar Starts Ombuds Office for International Students

The German arts and engineering school that was the birthplace of the Bauhaus movement has appointed an Ombudsperson for International Students. The Ombuds, "functions as mediator between the university and students, and plays a major role in the dialogue with university teachers, students, and other entities of the university," while maintaining strict confidentiality.

Town of Chapel Hill Explores Ombuds for Employees

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is considering the creation of an Ombuds program to provide confidential, disinterested, third-party assistance to town employees with workplace issues and concerns. The municipality, which is home to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has fewer than 1,000 employees. According to a town news release, "A relationship has been discussed with UNC-CH to provide ombuds services to Town employees." No other details have been released. (Chapel Hill News.)

Fort Collins Realtors Join Colorado Ombuds Program

Board of Realtors in Fort Collins Colorado has joined the Colorado Association of Realtors' initiative to create a statewide network of locally trained Ombuds for Realtors and the public. The CAR program is meant to serve as an intermediary informal step for individuals with concerns about real estate transactions. 

January 20, 2011

Minnesota DOT Ombuds Office is Honored for Work

The National Partnership for Highway Quality has awarded the Minnesota Department of Transportation Ombudsman's Office the Silver Award for “Making A Difference - Breaking the Mold.” The Mn/DOT Ombuds program was established in 2008 in the wake of the 35W Bridge collapse and the decline of public trust in the public agency. The office help resolve conflict in a fair and timely manner, and identifies opportunities to close gaps in policies or practices that may not be contributing to the department's overall mission.  Debra Ledvina is the Mn/DOT Ombudsman.

Northern Illinois Ombuds Gives Input on Student Grievance Procedure

This week, the NIU Faculty Senate heard from campus stakeholders on the student grievance procedure and a proposed change in grading policy. NIU Ombudsman Tim Griffin was among those who addressed the senate.

January 19, 2011

IOA Announces 2011 Pre-Conference Courses

The International Ombudsman Association has released the details of the pre-conference course that will be offered on April 3 in Portland.

NASAA Ombuds Will Hear from Investors in Washington Next Month

Matt Neubert, the current Ombudsman for the North American Securities Administrators Association, will hold his biannual meeting during the 2011 Public Policy Conference in Washington, DC on February 28. The NASAA Ombuds program is a neutral and confidential resource for securities industry stakeholders with issues or concerns regarding NASAA and state securities regulation. Neubert also serves as the Director of Securities for the State of Arizona and was the Chair of NASAA's Broker-Dealer Section from 2006-2009.

Former ICANN Ombuds to Speak at Inaugural .nxt Conference

Frank Fowlie will be featured as a panelist at a new conference on the proliferation of new Internet extensions. Fowlie and other experts will discuss issues of trust and community in the phase of the Internet revolution. The conference takes place February 9-10 at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco.

January 18, 2011

UC Santa Barbara Ombuds Reports Above-Average Caseload Despite Budget Cuts

Priscilla Mori, the Campus Ombuds at the University of California Santa Barbara, says that her office handled 330 cases in the 2009-10 academic year, well above the five-year average of 295 cases. Although cases were down slightly from the prior year, the latest figures were particularly significant because of furloughs that affected all campus staff, including those in the UCSB Ombuds Office. Mori said that 42% of visitors were staff, 38% were students, and 15% were faculty.

National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs Publishes Standards of Practice

NASOP, the nonprofit organization for state Long-Term Care Ombudsmen, has published aspirational standards reflecting its best practices. While LTC Ombuds have a different mandate than Organizational Ombuds, the format and content of the NASOP Standards of Practice reflect the common origins of the professions.

January 17, 2011

Olympic Ombuds to Speak at ABA Dispute Resolution Conference

John Ruger, the United States Olympic Committee Ombudsman, will participate in a plenary panel at the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution Annual Conference on April 14. The panel will discuss the domestic and international arbitration processes for Olympic and international sports dispute resolution and highlight the unique role of the USOC Ombuds. The largest dispute resolution conference takes place in Denver from April 13 – 16, 2011. (ABA Section on Dispute Resolution Conf. Info.)

Update: U.S. Attorney Drops All Charges Against Former Yolo County Ombuds

In March 2007, Yolo County in California hired Harrison Jack, a college professor and retired Army lieutenant colonel, to serve as the first Ombuds for the county's 1,600 workers. Less than three months later, Jack was arrested along with 12 Hmong immigrants and charged with conspiring to overthrow the government of Laos. Jack was accused of acting as an arms broker and organizer. Yolo County officials, who had conducted a background check of Jack, were shocked by the news and later terminated the Ombuds program. After the presiding judge threw out many of the charges amid allegations of misconduct by the prosecution, the U.S. Attorney has dismissed the remaining charges against all defendants. (Fresno Bee.)

January 14, 2011

Job Posting: University of Central Florida

The public, 56,000-student university in Orlando is seeking an experienced Ombuds to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of its first Ombuds, Vicky Brown. The position reports to the university’s vice president and chief of staff and will administer an office comprising an Assistant Ombuds and staff.

IOA Will Offer Ombuds Training In Portland

The International Ombudsman Association will offer two professional development courses at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower, April 1-3, 2011. Ombudsman 101 provides basic information and training for new and aspiring Organizational Ombudsman by emphasizing the principles of confidentiality, neutrality, independence, and informality.  

January 13, 2011

MD Anderson Gains an Experienced Ombuds

Susan Park, the former Ombuds for the University of Hawai'i Manoa has joined the Ombuds Office at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The office's Director, Anu Rao, said that Park started earlier this month. The office now comprises three full-time Ombuds, including Rita Burns, and one part-time Ombuds, Bill Brock.

FCO and IOI Discuss Potential Collaboration on Ombuds Training

Earlier this month, Suzanne Belson and Steve Olive, visited the International Ombudsman Institute's General Secretariat, Secretary Peter Kostelka. Belson was one of the founding members of the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman and Olive is the current FCO administrator. Kostelka and his guests said that they see great potential for cooperation between the two organizations, especially in the area of training. According to the IOI website, "It is envisaged that the FCO and the I.O.I. will exchange ideas on training concepts and programmes on a regular basis." (IOI News.)

January 12, 2011

Job Posting: Halliburton

The Halliburton Dispute Resolution Program is expanding and will be hiring an additional full-time Ombuds. The position reports directly to the Dispute Resolution Program Plan Administrator and provides conflict resolution services to employees and those doing business with the company.

California Pharmacists Association Creates Statewide Ombuds Program

CPhA has announced the creation of Ombuds program for employee pharmacists throughout the state. The CPhA Ombuds Employee Pharmacist Resource Program will provide serve as a resource for workplace issues such as lack of breaks, prescription quotas, or pressures to avoid counseling. CPhA CEO Jon Roth explained, “CPhA has struggled for years to create value for these pharmacists. This program will help them be better practitioners and create a value proposition that would encourage them to join CPhA.”

January 11, 2011

Job Posting: United Nations

The UN is accepting applications for the position of Director of the Office for Ombudsman and Mediation Services (UNOMS) in New York. In addition to serving as an Ombuds for UN staff, the Director also is responsible for managing UNOMS and serving as the representative to intergovernmental and other UN agencies.

January 10, 2011

Book Highlights Organizational Role of Ombuds

James T. Ziegenfuss, Jr., and Patricia O’Rourke have published a revised edition of their book, The Ombudsman Handbook: Designing and Managing an Effective Problem-Solving Program. The publisher's blurb says that the book, "presents the ombudsman in concept and in practice, offering full design and operational details from start-up to key activities and roles, as well as the benefits for the top executives, the employees and the customers." The book appears to cover the range of Ombuds practice, but especially Organizational Ombuds.

New Ombuds at Washington University in St. Louis Ombuds Unveils Website and Charter

The Office of the Ombuds at WUSTL has created a website with information about the pilot program that started in September 2010. The page includes a charter document that defines the scope and purpose of the program following the ethical tenants from the International Ombudsman Association.

Organization of News Ombudsmen Heads to Montreal for 2011 Conference

The international non-profit association of media Ombuds and readers' representatives will hold its annual meeting in Montreal, Canada from May 15 to May 18 under the sponsorship of Radio-Canada/CBC. An agenda has not yet been released. (ONO Conf. Info.)

January 09, 2011

Seneca College Appoints New Ombuds

The community college for applied arts and technology in Toronto has named George Fry as its new Ombudsperson effective January 10. Frey succeeds Liz MacLennan who has served as Seneca’s Ombuds since 2002. The announcement was made by Seneca's President, David Agnew, who previously was the Canadian Ombudsman of Banking Services and Investments.

AOMA Publishes First Electronic Newsletter

The African Ombudsman and Mediators Association has initiated a biannual newsletter. The official AOMA publication is intended to facilitate regular communication within the organization and to keep members abreast of relevant developments.

Representative Reintroduces Bill to Create Ombuds for Federal Air Marshals

On the first day of the 112th Congress, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) introduced a bill, HR 71, that would create an Ombuds office for federal air marshals. although the text of the bill has not been published, it appears similar to legislation introduced by Rep. Jackson-Lee and approved by the House in 2009. The earlier bill did not come to a vote in the Senate.

January 07, 2011

ICANN Review Team Says Ombuds Should Move to Applicable IOA Standards

On New Year's Eve, an ad hoc committee submitted a report to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers Board of Directors recommending a number of reforms to satisfy concerns raised by U.S. regulators. The reforms outlined by the Accountability and Transparency Review Team include changes to ICANN's governance, decision making, transparency, and review processes.  The report suggested specific changes for the ICANN Ombudsman.

McGill University Ombuds Issues 23rd Annual Report

Spencer Boudreau, who was appointed as the McGill Ombudsperson in September 2009, says that he assisted 268 students in the 2009-10 academic year. The number of cases declined slightly from the year before, but was 25% more than in 2005-06. In addition, Boudreau handled 25 cases from groups, faculty, staff and community.

January 06, 2011

Ombuds of Texas to Start Mentoring Program

The Ombuds of Texas will meet February 9, 2011, at the Southern Methodist University Legacy Campus in Plano. The group will kickoff a confidential mentoring program to match for developing Ombuds with experienced practitioners. The meeting will also feature two speakers: Ken Cloke, a well-known author of several conflict resolution books; and Gary Robinson, the director for the SMU Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management graduate program. (Ombuds of Texas Meeting Agenda and Calendar.)

Recommendations for Campus Mediation Clinics

University Ombuds who manage or work with campus mediation programs or who are considering creating one, should read an article by Cynthia A. Savage, a Practitioner in Residence and adjunct professor at the University of Denver Conflict Resolution Institute.  Savage's paper offers a comprehensive set of guidelines for designing an effective mediation clinic, including administrative, pedagogic and practice aspects.

January 02, 2011

University of Oregon to Provide Ombuds for Local Youth Sports Program

Competition not Conflict, a University of Oregon Law School Graduate program, will partner with a Eugene youth sports organization Kidsports to provide an Ombuds program for participants, parents, coaches, fans and referees. The Ombuds for Kidsports is Carly Brynelson, who is completing a Master’s Degree in conflict and dispute resolution at U of O. In addition to conflict resolution services, Brynelson will also be identifying areas of potential skills trainings for participants.

International Society for Krishna Consciousness Adds Ombuds

The conflict program for the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCONResolve, has expanded its scope adding a number of Ombuds to its ranks. ISKCON Ombuds are located around the world and provide confidential, impartial, informal assistance to devotees who have conflicts, complaints and issues arising from or affecting their participation in ISKCON. The names of the new Ombuds have not yet been published. (ISKCON News.)