December 12, 2012

The Ombuds Year in Review: 2012 (Nos. 8-10)

The Organizational Ombuds profession and individual practitioners enjoyed a good year.   The top ten stories of 2012 show that the profession continued to improve and expand. The list will be posted in three installments: today, December 18 and December 20.

In Memoriam -- Several notable Ombuds passed away in 2012, including: Yoshiko Takahashi, the first Founding Ombuds at Keio University;  Elizabeth ("Libby") Kingsbury Davenport, a former Ombuds at the University of Michigan; and Todd Simon, past Ombuds at Kansas State University. Their contributions to the field and to their organizations were invaluable, and they will be missed.

Notable Retirements -- This year also saw the retirement of many prominent Ombuds, including:
  • Claudia D'Albini, program director of the University of Arizona Ombuds Program (we missed her actual retirement in 2011);  
  • Tim Griffin, Northern Illinois University Ombudsman; 
  • Albin Swenson, Manager of Chevron Corporation's Global Office of the Ombuds;  
  • James Harris, Ombudsman at Montclair State University;  
  • Sheryl E. Smith, the Dean of Students and Student Ombuds at Kent State University;  
  • Justine Sentenne, Corporate Ombudsman for Hydro-Quebec;  
  • Laurie McCann, Ombudsperson at the University of California, Santa Cruz; and  
  • Priscilla Mori, Ombudsperson at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

[Runner Up] Among Other Things, Paula Broadwell Was an Ombuds -- Who know that one of the year's most intriguing newsmakers once worked as an Ombuds? Readers of this blog, that's who.

10. Offices Openings Outpace Closures -- The number of new offices far outstripped the few closures in 2012.  Ombuds programs were established at:
These were offset by one notable closure at:
Update 12/13/12: John Zinsser also notes closures of Ombuds programs at:
  • Ricoh; 
  • TIAA-CREFF; and 
  • Pure Water Dynamics.
9.  Study Concludes Ombuds Aren't the Right Fit for English Universities -- After an extensive survey, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator concluded that the North American Ombuds model was not viable for English and Welsh universities.

8.   Ethics Resource Center Says Ombuds Have Role Under Federal Sentencing Guidelines -- The independent advocacy group recommended that the U.S. Sentencing Commission Guidelines should explicitly recognize Ombuds as an important and appropriate resource for U.S. corporations.

Related posts: The Ombuds Decade in Review; The Ombuds Year in Review: 2010The Ombuds Year in Review: 2011 (Part I); The Ombuds Year in Review: 2011 (Part II)The Ombuds Year in Review: 2011 (Part III).


  1. Kerry Egdorf12/13/2012 7:21 AM

    Great summary. Thanks, Tom!

    Happy holidays!

  2. Maybe we've reached the tipping point in higher ed. It seems like ombuds programs have become more common than not. Most of the openings are at colleges and universities, while corporate and government programs lag.

    Guess I'm pointing out the obvious.

    -Angry Ombuds

  3. Excellent review, Tom! Thanks. Don Noack