January 31, 2012

Brown University Announces New Faculty Ombuds

Ruth Kohorn Rosenberg, currently director of student mediation in the Office of Student Citizenship at MIT, will become the next Faculty Ombudsperson at Brown University on February 22, 2012. The appointment reopens an Ombuds Office that was closed in 2009. Rosenberg will handle issues and concerns from the university faculty, postdoctoral research fellows and associates, and the University. 

Job Posting: Department Of Agriculture

The USDA is hiring a Food Safety Ombudsman. According to the job posting, "The primary purpose for this position is to respond to employee concerns related to the humane handling and slaughter of animals and other duties pertaining to the food safety mission as assigned by the Under Secretary." Duties will include implementing "an employee ombudsman program aimed at identifying and facilitating resolution of substantive and administrative program management issues raised by or of concern to employees and citizens as potentially threatening food safety effectiveness."

Ombuds Term Paper for Sale

TermpaperWarehouse is offering an essay titled, "Corporate Ombudsman." It was submitted by a user named Kwalters on January 29. Price available only to registered users. 

January 30, 2012

IOA Publishes Survey of Ombuds Compensation

The International Ombudsman Association has released its 2010 Compensation and Ombudsman Practice Survey. The year-long study of IOA members collected an unprecedented amount of data about the work done by and compensation of Organizational Ombudsmen. The data show that the 2010 median salary in the U.S. was $82,000 for Academic Ombuds, $150,000 for Corporate Ombuds, and $133,000 for Government Ombuds. The authors of the study believe the data will be valuable for individual practitioners and organizations interested in creating an Ombudsman Office.

University of British Columbia Students Vote to Fund Ombuds Office

The student society, AMS, passed a referendum to raise funds to ensure the continuation of the campus Ombuds Office. AMS mustered enough votes to approve the sale of art from its permanent collection and to impose an annual Ombudsperson fee in the amount of $1 CDN. The UBC Ombuds Office--which was established in 2009 and which is funded jointly by AMS, the university and the graduate student body--had been imperiled by a budget deficit facing the student society. (Ubyssey.)

Call for Proposals: ACR New York 2012 Conference

The Association for Conflict Resolution Greater New York Chapter seeks proposals for its annual meeting on Thursday, June 21, 2012. The overarching theme for ACR-GNY programs in 2012 is ‘Diverse Dispute Resolution in Tough Times.’ In past years, several Ombuds have presented at this conference.

January 26, 2012

IOA Opens Registration and Posts Agenda for 2012 Conference

Registration is now open for the Seventh Annual Conference of the International Ombudsman Association on April 13–18, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency in Houston, Texas. Special pricing is being offered for attendees who also register for Ombuds 101. Priority registration closes on March 23. IOA has also posted an expected agenda for the conference.

January 25, 2012

Yoshiko Takahashi: Founding Ombuds at Keio University

Professor Yoshiko Takahashi passed away on January 22, 2012. She established the first Organizational Ombuds office in Japan when she opened an office at Keio in 1998. Takahashi was director of the Keio Ombuds Office until 2002. She translated IOA materials into Japanese and helped coordinate other Ombuds programs in the Asia and Pacific Region. She was a speaker and contributor to many dispute resolution and Ombuds programs. (Takahashi Lab; IOA Newsletter, Dec. 2005.)

2012 ABA Dispute Resolution Conference in Washington

The twelfth annual meeting of the American Bar Association's section on dispute resolution will take place in Washington, DC on April 18–21, 2012. Perhaps because it conflicts with the IOA conference, no Ombuds are scheduled to speak this year. Nonetheless, there are sure to be topics to interest Organizational Ombuds at the country's largest dispute resolution event. (ABA DR Conf Info.) 

January 24, 2012

India's Universities Will Implement Ombuds for Students

India's Ministry of Human Resource Development has decided that higher education institutions shall have an Ombudsman to handle grievances from students and applicants. The new requirement will apply to all central universities, IITs, IIMs, NITS, IIITs, private and government-run deemed universities and all higher educational institutions under various Central government ministries. “The new system would be in place before the next academic year,” said HRD minister Kapil Sibal. 

Purdue Appoints Ombuds for Biological Sciences Department

Shelli Taylor and Joseph Vanable, PhD,, have been named as the Ombuds for employees of the university's Department of Biological Sciences. According to a new website for the service, the appointment came as part of the department’s strategic planning and seeks to diminish issues amongst faculty, staff and students. The new Ombuds will, "offer informal, confidential help for all employees who have an issue that they are unsure of the appropriate channels to follow." 

January 23, 2012

Ombuds Of Texas Announces First 2012 Meeting with New Leadership

The OOT will hold its next meeting at the Lower Colorado River Authority's Dalchau Service Center in Austin on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. The morning session will feature a presentation on conflict coaching by Pattie Porter, LCSW, of Conflict Connections. In the afternoon, the new leadership team will be introduced, including co-chairs Lauren Bloom of the University of Texas and Andrew Canham of Texas Tech University. The afternoon will also include an update on the OOT mentoring program.

Three Questions for Hamline's Ombuds

Molly McAvoy, the Ombudsman for Hamline University, was recently interviewed by the Twin Cities Star Tribune. Although she helps faculty, staff and students work through their issues as a neutral third party, she says that coaching individuals to handle their own situations often yields better results. The newspaper asked her three questions. 

January 20, 2012

Follow-Up on Decision to Protest SOPA

Chris LaHatte, the ICANN Ombudsman, makes an excellent point related to my decision to take a position against the Stop Online Piracy Act (HR 3261) and related legislation. 

At his blog, he writes: 
Some of my ombuds colleagues have joined in the protest about legislation before the US Congress, expressing concerns about the effect of freedom in various ways. I am not a resident of the United States and would be hesitant to make submissions or protest legislation before a foreign government. I respect the right to free speech and the right to protest but I am not going to make comment either for or against this legislation. An important part of the role of an Ombudsman is neutrality, and a political campaign is no exception. Who knows when a protest like this might undermine a decision on fairness, if one of the parties was affected by something which happened in relation to the protest or the legislation? So I decline to participate, not because I support or oppose the legislation, but because I must maintain neutrality. (ICANN Ombudsman Blog.) 
I agree with his point and respect his decision on this issue. Neutrality is a critical attribute of Ombuds work. I know many ombuds who will not reveal their political, religious or social views–even to their colleagues. 

My decision to speak out on SOPA reflects only my work as the publisher of the Ombuds Blog. I felt it important that my readers know that the blog would probably shut down if SOPA were to be implemented as currently written.

Related post:  Ombuds Blog Goes 'Dark' to Protest SOPA.

January 19, 2012

Job Posting: Council of Europe Development Bank

The multilateral development bank located in Paris is soliciting applications for an Ombudsperson/ Mediator. The position will act as an impartial intermediary between CEB agents and the administration of the Bank. Services will be provided four times a year on three consecutive days each.

Save the Date for 2012 Summer Academic Ombuds Meeting

The tenth annual summer meeting of college and university Ombuds will take place on Monday, July 23, 2012 at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. It will be preceded by a New Ombudsperson Workshop on Sunday, July 22. This marks the first time the meeting will not be hosted by Northern Illinois University. 

Job Posting: Savannah State University

The historically black university in Georgia is hiring a "Student Ombudsman & Advocate." The position description does not conform to IOA standards--e.g., although confidential, it is expected to "provides advocacy" and to "maintain permanent and pertinent records." Nonetheless, this is a new position for the university. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and 2-3 years of experience in a college/university setting. No salary or application deadline indicated. (Higher Ed Jobs.)

Job Re-Posting: U.S. Coast Guard

For a second time, the Coast Guard has reopened its search for a Regional Ombudsman Coordinator to be stationed in Oakland, CA. The position 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. 

University of North Dakota to Reconsider Ombuds

The public university in Grand Forks is looking again at the possibility of a campus Ombuds program. The Standing Committee on Faculty Rights will meet today to resume consideration of an Ombuds. In 2009, a task force on diversity and bias-related incidents, recommended the university hire an Ombuds to report directly to the president. (UND Newsletter; Task Force Report.)

Alumni Candidate for Penn State Board Suggests Ombuds

Prompted by the recent controversy involving its football program and allegations of child abuse, thirty alumni have applied to run for three open positions on the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees. One of these alumni, Richard Marshall, wants the university to create an Ombuds for employees and others. Marshall is head of transformation services for AllianceBerstein, which hired its first Ombuds in 2004. Penn State currently has an Ombuds network for faculty issues headed by University Ombudsperson Deborah F. Atwater. (Philadelphia Inquirer.) 

January 17, 2012

Ombuds Blog Goes 'Dark' to Protest SOPA

This blog is joining the protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (HR 3261) and related legislation pending before the U.S. Congress.  Although SOPA seeks to protect intellectual property, it would prevent me from linking to any other website unless I first confirmed that website was entirely free of any infringing links. The consequences of failing to take this onerous precaution would be extreme.  In short, this blog could not exist if SOPA were implemented.  Major websites such as Wikipedia, Reddit, and Boing Boing are going entirely dark on January 18, 2012. This is the best I can do.

Learn more at OpenCongress and Wikipedia.

Interview of Oberlin Ombuds

Oberlin College Ombudsperson Yeworkwha ("YB") Belachew is interviewed in the most recent edition of the campus newsletter. The conversation focused on the Oberlin College Dialogue Center (OCDC), which Belachew established shortly after she opened the Ombuds Office 11 years ago. OCDC trains students, staff, and faculty, and promotes social change through conflict transformation, mediation, community building, and dialogue. Belachew says that working with OCDC students is the most satisfying part of her job. (Around the Square.) 

Lessons From a Case of Sexual Harassment

An anonymous MIT alumnus blogs about her first incident of workplace sexual harassment and offers nine salient pieces of advice. For example: 3. Know your allies, and use them; 6. Whatever you do, don’t lie to Human Resources; and 7. Protect your reputation. Most especially, her advice regarding the use of an Ombuds office is right on.

Portland State University Six Months Post Ombuds

An article in the PSU Vanguard explains how the campus has tried to fill the role of the Ombuds Office six months after it was closed. Most of the Ombuds matters are being diverted to other offices such as the Dean of Student Life, Human Resources, and Academic Affairs. However, Michele Toppe, Dean of Student Life, admits that there are very few people on campus who are truly confidential. 

January 12, 2012

Albuquerque Realtors Launch Ombuds Program

The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors has implemented an Ombudsman Program for local members, and their clients and customers. According to the new website, the GAAR Ombudsman Program, "provides a neutral, informal, and flexible avenue to address a wide range of concerns with a variety of tools and approaches."

Day in the Life of the ICANN Ombuds

In his latest blog post, Chris LaHatte, the Ombudsman for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, reveals his daily routine. Organizational Ombuds serving a local population will find that LaHatte, who serves stakeholders around the globe, has a very different day.

January 11, 2012

IOA Makes Further Upgrades to Website

The Communications Committee of the International Ombudsman Association has announced several improvements to the IOA website, which was completely revamped less than a year ago. Although most of the resources are available only to IOA members, an abridged version of "Making Ombuds Offices Accessible," is available to the public.

Interview of New Ombuds for Medical College of Wisconsin

Milwaukee Public Radio has posted its conversation with Peter Layde, the newly appointed Ombudsman for the private medical and graduate school. Layde distinguished his role from the more familiar Ombuds in media and explained how he works with faculty, staff and students.

Chuck Howard Article for Constitution Daily

The leading attorney for Organizational Ombuds has written an article for the National Constitution Center’s blog. As he has in other pieces, Howard explains the incentives that discourage people from reporting workplace misconduct. He concludes that more Ombuds would fill the governmental need for corporate governance reform while safeguarding the interests of individuals.

January 09, 2012

IOA Elects Six to Board in 2012

The International Ombudsman Association has announced the results of its recent board election. The following individuals who have been elected to serve three-year term as Directors starting on April 14, 2012: Ilene Butensky, Doris Campos-Infantino, Isabel Calderon, Indumati Sen, and Ted Williamson. In addition, Nora Farrell, was elected to a two-year term as Associate Member Representative.

Ohio State Ombuds Publishes First Report

Jack A. Rall, who was appointed the Faculty Ombudsman at OSU on October 1, 2010, has posted his first annual report. Rall said that during 2010-2011 academic year, he had a 64 interactions with 35 faculty from 24 different campus units and regional campuses.