December 28, 2017

Ombuds Year in Review: 2017 (Part 3)

Without further ado, here are the three most important Ombuds news items of the year:

3. Posting for LSU Job Draws Most Interest and Hints at Deeper Issues -- The most viewed post of the year was an announcement in April that Louisiana State had opened a search for an Ombudsperson to restart its shuttered office. Eight months later, the position remains empty and there is no new information about the Ombuds office. A prestigious institution which once had a strong Ombuds program, surely received hundreds of applications. Then only silence. One can only guess at the politics that have derailed the process and hope that an Ombuds can once again work with stakeholders.

2. Special Interest Groups Begin Appointing Ombuds to Protect Members -- Professional associations and other special interest groups have started creating Ombuds to support and protect members who may not have any other formal mechanism to resolve conflicts. In many cases, the Ombuds are appointed to address a history of gender discrimination and sexual harassment that can occur at conferences.  Recently, the following groups have appointed Ombuds: Academy of Management; Fencing Officials Commission; Sex Workers Outreach Project-USANational Lawyers Guild; American Society of Mammalogists; American Political Science Association; History of Science Society; and Gallifrey One.

1. ETH Zurich Shuts Down Institute of Astronomy After Ombuds Warn of Bullying -- In October, one of the world's top universities entirely shut down its Institute of Astronomy after the Ombudspersons raised issues of bullying by a prominent professor. The decisive action by the Swiss institute of technology followed reports of widespread and prolonged bulling by a well-connected professor: a scenario familiar to all Ombuds who work in higher education. This is a remarkable case study and the details (but not the names of the accused faculty) were published by ETH. 

Related posts: Ombuds Year in Review: 2017 (Intro)Ombuds Year in Review: 2017 (Part 1);  Ombuds Year in Review: 2017 (Part 2)


  1. I love how you simply assert that these are the stories of 2017. You've surprised me with some observations and this is a good summary of the year. My biggest disagreement is number 3, which feels more like it should have been a runner up. But, thank you.
    -Angry Ombuds

  2. Tom, Angry is surprisingly (usually) very much in agreement with your selections even if she doesn't agree on the exact rankings, and I think we can all assume the IMHO part. I too appreciate your inferences and insights.

  3. On #3, FWIW, I was one of the applicants for the LSU position. I got an email a couple months ago (months after I had applied) asking if I was still interested. I said I was and then, once again, heard nothing.