September 27, 2017

New Ombuds at Duke University to Practice to IOA Standards

Thomas Metzloff, a law professor who studies dispute resolution, has been appointed the Faculty Ombuds at Duke. A revised faculty handbook will allow him to practice to IOA standards. Metzloff teaches civil procedure, ethics, and dispute resolution, and has served as the Law School's senior associate dean for academic affairs.  As the Ombuds, he will work with nearly 1,500 faculty members.  

In an interview with the campus newsletter, Metzloff explained why more people do not know what an Ombuds does.
“Part of it is the word – ombuds. It’s a strange Scandinavian word,” Metzloff said in an interview in his law school office. “Ombuds is not a verb. We can arbitrate or mediate, but we don’t ombuds.
“That reflects a certain ambiguity in the position. The ombuds is in the constellation of processes for dispute resolution, but it’s not as well defined as the mediator or arbitrator.”
It’s not an arbitrator, who follows a clearly defined set of procedures to made a decision between two sides. But neither is it a mediator, one who has a neutral role “to help parties explore a resolution by finding a common interest,” Metzloff said.
Instead, the ombuds most often serves as a navigator to one or more parties involved in a dispute, Metzloff said.
Metzloff graduated from Yale and earned his JD at Harvard Law.  (Duke Today; Faculty Profile.)

Prior post: Duke Elects New Faculty Ombuds; Duke Reappoints Faculty OmbudsDuke Considers Moving Ombuds Office to IOA Standards.


  1. Wait...what?! 'Ombuds' is totally a verb. Everyone (okay, maybe a hundred of us) knows that.
    -Angry Ombuds

    1. Funny and true. Most people I know say they "ombuds."