July 10, 2015

Sinclair Community College Needs Help With its Ombuds Search

The large community college in downtown Dayton has just opened a search for its next Ombudsman. Unfortunately, the position description is seriously out of line with IOA standards (which are followed nearly universally in U.S. higher education). 

At first, the job posting is encouraging, the summary says, "The Ombudsman works with a broad constituency across the college to collaboratively solve problems, identify policies, and procedures needing review. The services are neutral and respects privacy." Unfortunately, the list of other responsibilities compromise even these fundamental tenants of neutrality and confidentiality. 

Other duties include: 
  • Serve on teams, task forces or committees to design or redesign programs, procedures and policies that address student success issues. 
  • Act as students’ advocate to help them resolve student related issues, concerns or complaints. 
  • Provide campus-wide in-service training to Sinclair staff and faculty to better understand how to resolve student issues and conduct student support groups/workshops that promote student academic and personal growth. 
  • Conduct parent and community orientation sessions to better assimilate students into the Sinclair environment. 
  • Coordinates the required prevention training for all students relative to Title IX using both web based and in-person methods of delivery. This position will be required to inform students on the Title IX process as well as the confidential and mandated reporters. 
  • Work closely with offices providing primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention resources to ensure that appropriate services and supports are in place for complainants and respondents.
(Sinclair Jobs.)

Responsibility for these programs would make the "Ombudsman" an agent of notice and create a perception of bias or conflict of interest.  The Ombuds office at Sinclair has been configured this way since at least 2008.  Perhaps the search presents the opportunity for a change.


  1. Your exact concern has come to pass.
    A student went to the Ombudsman and discussed a sensitive issue about an experience. The ombudsman then reported it to the college. The ombudsman did not tell the student this was going to happen. Therefore, the student had no knowledge that it was going to be reported (or should be). The person the student had discussed then called the student, started to harass the student. It was not until later in the week that the student even found out how it "got out".
    It is now a very ugly mess, and no one trusts the new Ombudsman, because of this, and because the position appears to be the pawn of administration.

  2. I had our college ombudsman actually get involved in the grade appeal process and suggest a grade change without the faculty knowledge of it. Luckily an honorable and astute Dean forwarded it to faculty who ate now grieving it. And the ombudsman appears nowhere in the grade appeal policy for the college.

    1. Because an Ombuds is an informal resource, it is rarely mentioned in formal processes like a grade appeal.