April 29, 2011

Interview With Kaiser Permanente Health Care Ombuds

The Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog features an interview with David Richardson, PhD. Richardson introduces himself and gives an overview of his the role of the Ombuds within the sprawling Kaiser Permanente health care system. (Kaiser employs 28 HCOMs in California across 35 locations.) "The primary focus when the Ombudsman is involved is to achieve a resolution concerning patient-clinician issues at the earliest possible opportunity and lowest possible level, well before they are elevated to a legal claim," he said.

Update: California State University San Marcos Appoints First Ombuds

CSUSM has appointed Willie “Derrick” Crawford to the newly created position of Associate Vice President of Diversity and Educational Equity and Ombudsperson. Crawford leaves a position as the Chief Diversity/EEO Officer at The Citadel in South Carolina. Previously, he was the National Football League’s director of human resources and senior compliance officer. (San Diego Union Tribune.)

Update: NPR Names Next Ombudsman

On June 1, 2011, Edward Schumacher-Matos, will replace Alicia Shepard as the Ombudsman for NPR. He was the founding editor and associate publisher of the Wall Street Journal Americas, and served as bureau chief for the New York Times in Madrid and Buenos Aires. Until recently, he wrote a syndicated column for the Washington Post. In 1980, he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the Three Mile Island accident for the Philadelphia Inquirer. (Poynter.)

April 27, 2011

Michigan State University Ombuds to Retire

Stan Soffin, who has served as the MSU Ombudsman for 13 years, has announced he will retire in August. Soffin said that he will continue as a consultant to the MSU Office of the Ombudsman for an additional year. His retirement will mark the end of 43 years of work at the campus in East Lansing.

April 25, 2011

Federal Court Dismisses Student's Lawsuit Against University of Cincinnati Ombuds

At a pre-trial hearing, a federal judge in the Southern District of Ohio has dismissed a civil rights and negligence case against UC, a professor and its Ombudsman, Lillian Santa Maria. Plaintiff Cynthia McConaughy, a student, claimed that the defendants wrongfully denied her pregnancy leave and then retaliated, causing her to drop out.

April 24, 2011

Job Posting: Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General

The DoD Office of Inspector General is hiring an Organizational Ombuds to serve as a resource for employees. The Ombuds will inherit an IOA-compliant office near Washington, DC, and will report directly to the Inspector General.

University of Georgia Hints at Changes to Ombuds Program

A statement from UGA President Michael Adams indicates that there may be changes in store for the campus Ombuds Office. Although he wasn't specific, Adams said that he will decide about changes to the university's sexual harassment response program -- which has included the Ombuds Office for the past three years -- this summer.

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Names Ombuds

Scott Deyo has been appointed as an Ombudsman for the U.S. Department of Defense agency that collects and analyzes satellite imagery. Deyo will serve 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

April 20, 2011

Call for Submissions: Conflict Resolution Symposium Hosted by Georgia State University Ombuds

The GSU Office of the Ombudsperson will be hosting its first annual Conflict Resolution Symposium on October 27, 2011. The symposium is designed to celebrate the Association for Conflict Resolution's annual Conflict Resolution Day. Symposium attendees and presenters will be undergraduate and graduate students, as well as local Conflict Resolution practitioners.

Interview with Northeastern University Ombuds

Donna M. Bishop, the first Ombudsperson at Northeastern, answers three questions about her new role. First off, she explains why it is important for a college or university to have an Ombuds. 

April 18, 2011

Proposed Federal Whistleblower Legislation Would Create Ombuds Programs

A bipartisan group of senators has reintroduced the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act to bolster protection for government employees. Among other things Senate Bill 743 would establish Whistleblower Protection Ombudsmen to educate agency personnel about whistleblower rights.  The proposed programs would be affiliated with inspectors general in non-intelligence agencies.

Cal Caucus Sets Date for 2011 Meeting

The California Caucus of Colleges and University Ombuds will hold its 38th meeting in Asilomar on November 6-9. Planning is still underway, but the theme for the caucus is "A New Day: 21st Century Social and Cultural Realities." Confirmed presentes already include Workshop presenters confirmed so far are Lisa Neale, Valerie White, Donna Clark, and Michael Dues. 

University of California Riverside Appoints Ombuds

Andrew Larratt-Smith, who has served as the Interim Ombudsperson for UCR since the beginning of the year, was selected as permanent Ombuds after a national search.

April 16, 2011

Petrobras Ombuds Launches Monthly Column

Paul Otto, the Ombudsman for the semi-public Brazilian energy company, has started a monthly column to, "to make public the Ombudsman's views on matters that give rise to some sort of special consideration or even detail the Ombudsman's own procedures, all in pursuit of coming even closer to the stakeholders." 

Bates College to Review Ombuds Program

In 2000, the highly selective, private liberal arts college in Lewiston, Maine created an Ombuds program serve staff with workplace concerns. The Ombuds program started with a network of volunteer staff, but that number has dwindled over the years to just one: Sarah Potter, the College's Bookstore Manager and Contract Officer. 

April 14, 2011

University of Minnesota Ombuds Reports Substantial Monetary Benefits for Students

In an off-year review of the U of M Student Conflict Resolution Center, Director and Ombudsman Janet Morse said that office assisted in resolving 535 cases in 2010-11. The review also said that the Center had, "Obtained for students $332,500 in actual dollars based through Ombudsman interventions." The Ombuds function follows IOA standards and is performed by two full-time staff members and two students. (SCRC Off-Year Review 2010-11.)

Job Posting: University of Minnesota

The 50,000-student university in Minneapolis/St. Paul is hiring a part-time Temporary Ombudsman. Applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree or four years of mediation experience. The 50% position pays $15-17/hour without benefits. Applications are due May 6. Although not immediately evident from the posting, the position is intended for a graduate student. (U of M Jobs.)

University of Texas Hiring Graduate Assistant Ombuds

The Office of the Ombudsperson at UT Austin will hire a 20-Hour Graduate Assistant Ombudsperson for a 4½-month appointment. The position will assist students with university-related concerns following IOA principles, and assists in the office as needed. Compensation depends on experience and education, and includes benefits. Lauren Bloom is the Ombudsperson for Students. (UTexas HESPA Blog.)

April 12, 2011

Prince George's County Public Schools Hiring First Ombuds

The large school district in Maryland is hiring its first Ombudsman. According to the job description, the main function of the full-time Ombuds, "is to provide confidential and informal assistance to the public." In addition, the Ombuds, "will develop and monitor a neutral process for parent and public complaints and questions, act as a source of information and referral, and assist in the resolution of concerns and critical situations." The new Ombuds will head an office of four and has been given a budget of $411,000.

Class Action Lawsuit Against Eaton Cites Interaction With Ombuds

Two former employees of Eaton Corp. have filed a $150 million class action gender discrimination suit alleging that they were passed over for promotions and sexually harassed by three male supervisors. The complaint filed in NY federal court describes one interaction with Eaton's "Ombuds Department" that was generally positive:

University of Louisville Ombuds Gives First Report

On April 6, 2011, UofL's Ombudsperson Tony Belak gave his first report to the Faculty Senate. Belak said that he had about 30 inquiries during his first six months. About 50 percent have been from faculty, 35 percent from staff and the rest from grad assistants, who are eligible for his services as employees but not for student issues.

Southern California Ombuds to Gather at LAX for Spring 2011 Meeting

Theresa Prator, Ombudsman for the Los Angeles World Airports, will host the Southern California Ombuds Caucus on May 5. Details are forthcoming. (Southern California Ombuds Group.)

April 11, 2011

IOA Website Gets Major Upgrade

The International Ombudsman Association rebooted its online portal this week and the result is a richer and more dynamic offering for members, aspiring Ombuds and the general public. The new webpage features a video montage of Organizational Ombuds offering greetings in several language including French, Spanish, Hindi Bengali and American Sign Language. For the first time, the IOA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice are published in French and Spanish.

April 08, 2011

Coalition of Federal Ombuds Will Meet Next Week

The next regular CoFO meeting is scheduled for April 13, 2011 from 1 to 2:30 pm in Washington, DC.  Please RSVP to Wendy Kamenshine (wendy [dot] kamenshine [at-sign] dhs [dot] gov), the CoFO Chair if you plan to attend and directions will be provided. (CoFO Website.)

Corporate Secretary Magazine: Time for an Ombudsman?

The February 2011 issue of Corporate Secretary (the magazine for corporate secretaries, general counsel and governance professionals in North America) includes an article explaining why Organizational Ombuds are a logical response to recent whistleblower legislation.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Will Appoint New Ombuds

The Provost's Office at UW-Madison is seeking at least one retired employee for its Ombuds Program. The appointment will replace John Mather, who will step down on June 30 after serving in the office since 2008.

Annual Number Cases Rise for University of Victoria Ombuds

UVic Ombudsperson Martine Conway says that she handled 444 cases in 2010, an 8% increase from the prior year. In addition to summarizing cases and offering recommendations for the past year, Conway also reviews the past five years. The annual report is presented in a newsletter format with several "articles" on various aspects of the work of the Ombuds Office. (UVic Ombuds Reports.)

April 05, 2011

IOA Elects Board Officers for 2011-12 Term

At its annual conference in Portland, OR, the International Ombudsman Association has announced that its Board of Directors has elected officers to serve until next April.

April 02, 2011

Association for Conflict Resolution of Greater New York Presents Breakfast With Janis Schonauer

The next ACR-GNY monthly Roundtable Breakfast will feature AllianceBernstein Ombuds Jan Schonauer. The breakfast will take place at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 8:00 am.  Schonauer's topic is, "Top Ten Challenges for a Corporate Ombudsman." (Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Blog.)

Editorial Decries Loss of Portland State University Ombuds

The editorial board of the PSU Vanguard says that the decision to close the campus Ombuds Office was shortsighted and leaves the community without a valuable resource.
The Vanguard editors said: