March 31, 2011

Journal of IOA Focuses on Fairness and Equity

The latest issue of the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association takes up the theme of, “Fairness and Equity.” JIOA Editor David Miller says the idea was sparked by Associate Editor Tom Sebok, who asked, “How do we reconcile Ombudsman neutrality with being ‘advocates for fair and equitably administered processes’”?

National Institutes of Health Appoints Deputy and Two Associate Ombuds

The Office of the Ombudsman, Center for Cooperative Resolution at NIH has named David Michael as Deputy Ombudsman and Linda Myers and Lisa Witzler as Associate Ombudsmen. The new appointees join Howard Gadlin, Ombudsman and Director of the Center, and Associate Ombudsmen Linda Brothers, Samantha Levine-Finley, and Kathleen Moore.

March 30, 2011

Twitter Hashtag Collects Tweets from IOA 2011 Conference

Twitter users can post and follow updates from the International Ombudsman Association annual conference in Portland, OR from April 1 through 6, with the hashtag #ioa2011.  (Clicking on the link will show tweets even for those without Twitter accounts.)

University of Georgia Report on Sexual Harassment Faults Ombuds Office

A committee appointed to review how UGA handles student and staff harassment complaints says that a flawed Ombuds Office established two years ago is not helping the campus. "By not providing a properly constituted (ombudsman program), UGA is failing to uncover and address the full extent of sexual harassment on campus," said the special committee appointed by UGA's University Council.

IOA Updates Election Results to Include One More Board Member

The International Ombudsman Association has announced that Anamaris Cousins has been elected to the Board of Directors. Cousins joins Sara Thacker (Director) and Brian Bloch (Associate Member Representative) who were elected to terms starting in April 2011.

George Mason University Ombuds Reports Continued Growth in Caseload

Dolores Gomez-Moran, the Mason Ombudsman, says that her office received 182 visitors during the 2009-10 academic year, a 14% increase from the previous year and a 35% increase from two years ago. The report also marks the adoption of IOA unifirm reporting categories.

March 29, 2011

IOA Receives Trademark for CO-OP Designation

On March 22, 2011, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registered CO-OP as a trademark owned by the International Ombudsman Association. Consumers are now assured that the mark certifies that the Ombuds has demonstrated competency by meeting certain educational and experiential standards. The legal designation also provides IOA with additional remedies for unauthorized use of the designation. (USPTO Trademark Document Retrieval, US Serial No: 77827746.)

Eaton Ombuds to Present Program on Running a Global Office

On April 14, Ilene Butensky and Sophia Qiao will speak at the American Bar Association's Dispute Resolution Section annual conference in Denver. Along with Chuck Howard, the two Ombuds for Eaton Corporation will discuss, "Implementing a Global Corporate Dispute Resolution Program."

University of Cincinnati Ombuds Co-Sponsor Anti-Violence Campaign

Next week, several UC organizations will a join to support the national campaign to stop violence with a week of activities. A call to action will highlight Wednesday’s agenda on April 6 with a clinic on civility and mediation presented by the University Ombuds, Lillian Santa Maria and Jean Griffin. (RAPP: UC's Social Justice Forum.)

March 28, 2011

Bridgepoint's Ashford University Closes Ombuds Office

The private, for-profit coeducational liberal arts university owned by Bridgepoint Education has announced that it is closing the Ombuds Office it opened three years ago. To replace the Ombuds program, Ashford will open a Student Dispute Resolution Center on April 1, 2011. The new resource will provide, "expedited informal resolutions, confidential facilitated negotiation services and a formal grievance process."

New Ombuds Office at Ivy Tech Community College

Indiana's community college system, the nation's second-largest community college, has created an Ombudsman for student issues. Anila Din was appointed in early 2010, but the website for her office only went online last week. Din, the former Director of Academic Affairs Support for Ivy Tech, reports to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and serves a student population of more than 165,000.

American University in Cairo Plans Ombuds Office

In the wake of the Egyptian Revolution earlier this year, the independent and sectarian American University in Cairo plans several reforms to address concerns about the right of free expression on campus and labor standards. These initiatives include an Ombuds Office.

Ombuds for U.S. Defense Dept Inspector General Issues Second Annual Report

Scott M. Deyo, the Ombudsman for the Department of Defense IG employees worldwide, says he met with 325 individuals in fiscal year 2010, a 45% increase from the prior year. According to the annual report, issues about the agency's mission, strategy and organization became the top major category of concern.

Guide to Oregon Ombuds Programs

With IOA holding its annual conference in Portland and the mayor declaring April 3, 2011 to be 'Ombuds Day,' the Ombuds Blog presents this list of regional Ombuds offices:

March 24, 2011

Friday Poll: Ombuds, Why Are You Not Attending the IOA 2011 Conference?

Many American and Canadian Organizational Ombuds will meet up in Portland, Oregon for the sixth annual International Ombudsman Association conference. However, some Ombuds will not attend. (Last year, 55% of respondents cited "insufficient office budget" as the reason.) This week's poll asks why not this year?

Job Posting: Medical College of Wisconsin

The private medical and graduate school in Milwaukee is hiring its first Ombuds. The part-time position (40% FTE) reports to the president and will serve as a resource for faculty, staff and 1,300 students.

Job Posting: U.S. Coast Guard

The Coast Guard is hiring two Regional Ombudsman Coordinators to be stationed in Oakland, CA and Norfolk, VA. The positions will administer and develop all aspects of the CG Ombudsman Program, and provide feedback to the local Health, Safety and Work-Life Service Centers and the Ombudsman Program Manager.

March 23, 2011

ENOHE Annual Conference Slated for Madrid

The European Network for Ombudsman in Higher Education will hold its ninth annual conference in Madrid, Spain on June 27-29, 2011 at the Universidad Europea de Madrid. ENOHE coordinator Josef Leidenfrost points out that Spain was the first European country to appoint University Ombudsmen by law, under “Ley Orgánica 6/2001” and has become a model also for Ombuds in higher education.

Emory University Begins Consideration of Ombuds Program

An ad hoc committee of the Emory Faculty Council has started a review of the university's grievance policies. Professor of Law William Buzbee, who is chairing the committee, indicated that the committee should examine the possibility of an Ombuds for the campus. Information on other universities’ analogous structures or procedures and best practices will be collected as part of the process. (Emory Faculty Council Concerns.)

AAA Offers Online Course on Workplace Bullying

Ombuds may be interested in an online course by the American Arbitration Association, "Workplace Bullying: The Role of Policies and ADR Systems," on March 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm Eastern. One of the two instructors, Loraleigh Keashly, is Academic Director for the ADR program at Wayne State University and wrote about her research on bullying in the latest issue of the Journal of IOA.

March 22, 2011

Florida International University Creates Ombuds for Department Chairs

The public university in Miami has opened a second Ombuds Office: John Stuart has been appointed as the Department Chairs' Ombuds. In his role as part-time Ombuds, Stuart serves as an independent, neutral, informal, and confidential, resource for all chairs of university departments and directors who serve as chairs. The new program supplements the work of the existing FIU Ombuds for Students.

UC Berkeley Staff Ombuds Says Financial Worries are Impacting Caseload

The latest biennial report from the University of California Berkeley Staff Ombuds Office says that visitors in 2008-10 declined 15% from the prior two-year period. Sara Thacker, Director and Ombudsperson, attributed the decrease to campuswide staff reductions — which led to “increased fear, conflict avoidance and workload demands” — and to staff reductions in the office itself, which resulted in “substantially reduced outreach activities.”

Princeton University Ombuds Guests on Radio Show

Last week, Princeton University Ombuds, D.A. Graham, was a guest on "The Problem is the Answer," a radio show about communication and conflict management by Bathabile K. S. Mthombeni, relationship coach, divorce mediator and former Columbia University Associate Ombuds.

March 21, 2011

Job Posting: University of Texas Medical Branch

The medical center in Galveston is seeking again accepting applications for its first Faculty Ombudsman. The 20% position will serve as a confidential and informal resource for the faculty. Applicants must have a PhD or MD, and have held a faculty appointment in an academic institution. Preferred qualifications include formal training in conflict management or alternative dispute resolution; experience at a university medical center; record of prior contributions in providing institutional service in a private of public sector health care setting.

House Bill Could Revise TSA Ombuds Program

Legislation introduced by Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) has the potential to change the features of the existing Ombudsman Office at the Transportation Security Administration. HR 1165 would amend Title 49 of the U.S. Code, "to establish an Ombudsman Office within the Transportation Security Administration for the purpose of enhancing transportation security by providing confidential, informal, and neutral assistance to address work-place related problems of ... employees...."

Cornell University Ombuds Retires, Prompting Internal Search for Replacement

Cornell University President David J. Skorton announced that Professor Emeritus Walter Lynn is stepping down after serving for 12 years as University Ombudsman. The university has called for nominations for internal candidates to lead the office that includes Linda B. Falkson, Associate Ombudsman, and Adam B. Kleinberger, Assistant Ombudsman.

March 20, 2011

University of Cape Town Opens Ombuds Office With IOA Standards

Africa's leading university has appointed Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa as its first Ombud. Makamandela-Mguqulwa says that her office will provide a safe and informal space to be heard and an alternative to the other formal modes of dispute resolution at the university. Moreover, she will practice to IOA standards, thereby becoming the only University Ombuds on the continent to do so.

Annual List of Top U.S. ADR Law Schools Largely Unchanged

The annual ranking of the best law school ADR programs by US News & World Report was populated by familiar names. The only surprise for 2011 was Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law, which had not ranked in the top ten in the past few years, appearing at number six on the list.

March 17, 2011

Chuck Howard on YouTube

The author of "The Organizational Ombudsman: Origins, Roles and Operations--A Legal Guide" has made multiple appearances to promote his book and the Ombuds profession generally. Nonetheless, most people who might want to hear him speak would have to travel a long way and/or pay an event fee. Fortunately, the Quinnipiac University School of Law has posted his latest presentation in its entirety--1 hour and 35 minutes.

Georgetown Medical School Ombuds Practices Mind-Body Medicine

Nancy Harazduk is the director of the Georgetown University School of Medicine Mind-Body Medicine Program and has served as the Ombuds for Georgetown medical students student since 2006. She says that her personal mission of “healing the healers,” one person at a time has been a perfect fit for her Ombuds work.

Ombuds Office at Algonquin College Will Move to New Building in 2012

The Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology in Ottawa expects to open a 110,000 square-feet, LEED certified building for non-academic offices in Fall 2012. In addition to a theatre, student club offices and a store, the Student Commons will include a new home for the Ombuds office. Hervé Depow has served as Algonquin's Ombudsperson since 2003. (Algonquin College Student Commons.)

Financial Services Ombudsman Will Hold Annual Conference in Vancouver

The International Network of Financial Services Ombudsman Schemes will hold its sixth annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia on September 19-22, 2011. Canada’s Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments is serving as host organizer for the event. An additional day of professional development day is being offered in Whistler, BC on September 23. (INFO 2011.)

March 16, 2011

North Georgia College & State University Opens Search for First Ombuds

The four-year public university in Dahlonega, GA is accepting applications from internal candidates for its first Ombudsperson. NGCSU faculty approved the proposal for an Ombuds based on IOA standards on August 24, 2010. The new Ombuds will serve only faculty and staff and reports directly to the president. The proposal is being shepherded by Associate Professor Elizabeth Combier, who recently joined the Georgia State University Ombuds Network.

Electronic Eavesdropping at University of Iowa Highlights Role of Ombuds

Earlier this week, the University of Iowa launched an investigation into complaints that supervisors at at a medical clinic used a hidden baby monitor to eavesdrop on employees to determine whether they were talking too much. The situation was initially reported to the university's police and Ombuds, and the employees' local union.

ACCUO Holds First Ever Mid-Year Meeting

In Febraury, University of Calgary Ombuds Robert Clegg and Mount Royal University Ombuds Judy Collins hosted the first mid-annual conference of the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons. Ombuds from the University of British Columbia (Shirley Nakata), Camosun College (Carter McDonald), University of Alberta and the University of Victoria also attended.

ICANN’s Adjunct Ombudsman is Keeping the Lights On

Herb Waye, the Adjunct Ombuds for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers for the past five years, is ensuring the Office of the Ombudsman continues operations while a search for a permanent Ombudsman continues. Waye has been handling Ombuds cases and is attending the ICANN Silicon Valley meeting this week. Waye continues to serve as the Ombudsman for the Council of Country Code Administrators. (ICANN Ombudsman Blog; CoCCA News.)

Google Research Uncovers "Rules" for Better Managers

In 2009, Google began a study of its managers' performance reviews, feedback surveys and nominations management awards. Like most social science research, Google's results confirm what people know intuitively. What was most surprising, especially given the technical nature of the work at Google, was that technical expertise was the least important characteristic for a good manager.  Ombuds may want to use this list as part of their conflict coaching or organizational feedback.

March 15, 2011

Radio Interview of Ombuds at University of North Carolina

As part of its coverage of the Town of Chapel Hill's plan to create an Ombuds program, a local radio station interviewed UNC's Ombudsperson, Wayne Blair. The town has committed to creating an Ombuds program for its employees, who number fewer than 1,000. Although Blair has agreed to assist local officials, there is no timetable for implementation of the Ombuds program. (1350 WCHL News.)

Someone Needs a Ride to the IOA Conference

Here's a recent posting on the San Francisco Bay Area Craigslist:

African Ombudsman Research Centre Opens in South Africa

Earlier today, the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association opened the African Ombudsman Research Centre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The center will study, support and archive information on issues related to the ombudsman institution in Africa. 

March 10, 2011

Friday Poll: Do You "Google" to Supplement Case Information?

The IOA Standards of Practice assert that Ombuds should have, "access to all information and all individuals in the organization." For many Ombuds, this means being able to access employee and academic records when relevant to the resolution of a case. But many Ombuds also use the Web or an intranet to access additional information about their visitors, parties and situations that may or may not be necessary for a resolution of the presenting concern. Background information is available from departmental webpages, Facebook, LinkedIn, employee newsletters, and local media. So how often do you look up information online as part of your case work?

Iowa State University Ombuds and Librarian Create Online Conflict Guide for Staff

ISU Ombuds Officer Elaine Newell and librarian Jeff Kushkowski are the co-creators of a new online resource for employees. The guide was built with software designed for creating class resource guide contains information about university resources and conflict resolution.

Researcher Calls for Ombuds to be Regular Part of Disaster Response

Later this month, a PhD candidate at the George Mason University's Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution will defend her dissertation examining the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Cindy Mazur argues that future emergency response activities would benefit from the inclusion of an Ombuds be in the management of large scale disasters.

March 09, 2011

Externship: American Red Cross

The Red Cross Office of the Corporate Ombudsman in Washington, DC is accepting applications for a summer intership. The opportunity is open to graduate students working towards a degree in Sociology, Psychology, Law or Conflict Resolution.

Profile of State Department Ombuds

An article in the latest issue of State, the US Department of State Magazine, features the work of Shireen Dodson, the Ombudsman for Civil Service Employees. She explains that Congress established her office in 1987, but the position was not filled on a full-time basis until she was appointed in July 2009.

March 08, 2011

Kennesaw State University Ombuds Announces Retirement

Dorothy Graham has announced that she will be retiring on May 1, 2011, after 15 years as the University Ombuds at Kennesaw. Graham said that the Associate Ombuds, Bernard Anderson, will continue in the office, and that the university administration may be considering another faculty member to fill her position.

Video Interview With Ombuds at University of Texas at San Antonio

Carol Gonzalez, the Student Ombudsperson at UTSA, is the subject of an interview posted by the school's office of student affairs. In the two-minute piece, Gonzalez explains her role and offers some advice for other university employees who interact with students. Gonzalez established the UTSA Ombuds Office in September 2005 and she currently assists more than 300 students a year. (USTA Student Affairs Spotlight; Paisano Online.)

International Ombudsman Institute Posts North American Newsletter

The IOI North American Region Newsletter highlights the work of Vice President and Ontario Ombudsman, André Marin.  The newsletter lists the 14 current institutional and 8 individual IOI members in North America.  It also reveals that IOI is planning a "World Conference" in Wellington, New Zealand for November 2012 to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the Ombudsman institution in New Zealand.  (IOI North American Newsletter Feb. 2011.)

March 07, 2011

Pomona College Revisits Ombuds Proposal

After a failed search for its first Ombuds two years ago, the liberal arts college has reopened discussion of the issue. According to a statement by the President’s Advisory Committee on Diversity, “One of the reasons the search was not successful is that there were different understandings among community members/groups as to the role of an ombudsperson.”

University of Oregon Offers Symposium on Apology to Coincide with IOA Conference

The Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center at Oregon Law is presenting a symposium featuring presentations by former Ombuds and conflict management systems designer Carole Houk and University of Illinois Professor Jennifer Robbennolt on "Apology, Settlement and Systems Design: Learning from Medical Mistake Cases."