December 31, 2019

11 Stories that Shaped the Ombuds Profession in the 2010's

Ten years ago, this blog posted a survey of the most important stories about the Organizational Ombuds field from 2000 to 2009. Many of those stories are echoed in this summary of the most recent decade and reflect improvements in the profession. 

Here they are, in no particular order:

December 30, 2019

Job Posting: World Health Organization, Republic of Congo

The UN agency that focuses on international public health continues to build out its Ombuds program. The current posting seeks a a full-time Regional Ombudsman based in Brazzaville for a two-year contract. The WHO Ombudsman is José Martínez-Aragón, but this new position reports locally.

December 27, 2019

The Ombuds Year in Review: 2019 (Part Two)

On balance, 2019 was a good year for the Organizational Ombuds profession. The field continued to expand and crises were either resolved or deferred. Perhaps the relative calm explains why there were fewer significant new stories than prior years.

Here are the top stories of 2019:

December 26, 2019

IOA Opens Registration for Pre-Conference Training in Portland

The International Ombudsman Association will offer a three training programs before its 2020 annual conference in Portland, Oregon. In addition to the signature training for new Ombuds, "Foundations," IOA is debuting a new half-day course for people considering the profession. The third session is a core course for experienced Ombuds.

Here are the descriptions:

Ombuds Office at Montgomery College is on Hiatus

According to the website for the Ombuds Office at the community college in Rockville, Maryland, the Ombuds position is temporarily vacant as of January 2020. Julie Schwartz Weber had served as the MC Ombuds since July 2016. The webpage says that a search will be launched to fill the position. (MC Ombuds.)

Brandeis University Increases Ombuds Hours

At the end of November, University Ombuds Don Greenstein transitioned from a part-time role to full-time. He and Elena Lewis, as a part-time collateral duty Ombuds, serve faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and others with a connection to the private university.

December 23, 2019

The Ombuds Year in Review: 2019 (Part One)

This tenth annual summary of the Organizational Ombuds news comes in two parts. Next week, the Ombuds Blog will publish a ten-year retrospective.

Here is the first set of stories from 2019:

Save the Date for ACCUO/ENOHE 2020 Conference in Athens

The Association of Canadian College and University Ombuds and European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education will hold their 3rd joint conference (and ENOHE's 16th annual conference) at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece on May 26-29, 2020.

December 17, 2019

Ombuds for Queen's University Posts New Terms of Reference

Lavonne Hood, who was named the Queen's University Ombuds a few months ago, has posted new Terms of Reference for her office. The publication completes one of the big tasks recommended by an external reviewer last year as part of the transitioned from the Office of Dispute Resolution.

USOA Sets 2020 Conference in Montana

The United States Ombudsman Association will hold its 41st Annual Conference at the Helena Great Northern Hotel in Helena, Montana. Pre-conference courses will take place on September 14-15, 2020, followed by the conference from September 16 to 18. The event will will be hosted by the Montana State Child and Family Ombudsman, Traci Shinabarger. (USOA Conf Info.)

December 16, 2019

Journal of IOA: Ombuds as a Mechanism for Civility in Higher Ed

The latest article in the peer-reviewed JIOA is by Clara Wajngurt, a Professor of Mathematics at the City University of New York, Queensborough Community College and an executive coach. The full article, "The Faculty Ombudsperson: Maintaining Civility and Academic Freedom in Higher Education," is now available online at the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association.

Job Posting: Salmon River Central School District

The small rural school district on the northern edge of New York State is hiring an Ombudsman. The position will work with administrators, staff, students, and families with "issues or conflicts, especially regarding diversity and cultural or social emotional concerns."  It appears that Kim Russell held a position with that title about five years ago, but the district's website does not reveal much about the work. 

December 13, 2019

Job Posting: University for Peace

The United Nations affiliated university in Costa Rica is hiring an Ombudsperson for a part-time (4 hours/week), one-year contract. UPeace conducted a similar search in August 2018 and there is no indication an Ombuds was selected for the past year. Many of the responsibilities are different from typical practices of university Ombuds or the UN Ombuds program. The position reports to the Office of the Rector and provides a range of services to students and staff, including: 

December 12, 2019

Job Posting: Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior's Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution (CADR) is hiring a full-time Conflict Management Specialist based in Arlington, Virginia. The position will promote and provide expert assistance and support for all bureaus and offices to increase and improve the use of collaborative decision-making and ADR processes. The position serves primarily internal stakeholders, and some travel is required. Applicants may also be considered for other CADR positions.

Rochester Institute of Technology Selects Associate Ombuds

In May 2019, Ashley Meyer was hired as the Associate Ombuds at RIT. She reports to John Johnston, the University Ombudsperson, and completes an office that serves over 24,000 students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Meyer has worked at RIT since 2011, most recently as an Academic Advisor.

Journal of IOA: Ombuds as a Resource for Collaborative Research

Nancy E. Day (Professor Emerita at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and former Faculty Ombudsperson), Mary Sue Love (Associate Professor in at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and former Ombudsperson), and Gregory K. Stephens (faculty at Texas Christian University and Ombudsman for the Academy of Management) have published an article in the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association. The full article, "Ombuds Interventions in Encouraging Covenantal Research Collaborations: I Am with You Always, Now and Beyond the End of Our Study," is now available online.

December 09, 2019

Journal of IOA: Research on the Ombuds' Role and Academic Incivility

The latest article published by the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association presents research by Hector Escalante, the Ombuds for the University of the Pacific. He looked at themes in instances of abrasive conduct in higher education and suggests how Ombuds can be more effective. The article is available free through the end of the year.

December 06, 2019

Brigham Health Announces Details of New Ombuds Program

On January 6, 2020, Brigham Health will launch a new program: the Office of Mediation, Coaching, Ombuds and Support Services. Headed by Donald Proby, "OMCOSS" will provide education, resources and services to faculty, staff, and trainees at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization in and around Boston. Details of the new program were announced in a series of articles in the organization's newsletter.

December 04, 2019

Job Posting: Transportation Security Administration

The TSA's Ombudsman Division (part of the Civil Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement Office) is hiring a full-time Program Analyst based in Chicago, IL. The position serves internal and external stakeholders, and some travel is required.

IOA's New Executive Director Writes First Advocacy Article

On Monday, Bloomberg Law Insight published an article by IOA’s new Executive Director, Chuck Howard. In the piece, Howard explains how Organizational Ombuds programs can protect whistleblowers and help organizations by providing a safe and confidential resource to surface issues. The full article, "Avoid Being a Whistleblower With Safe Place Ombudsman Programs," is available online. (BLI.)

December 03, 2019

American Finance Association Appoints Experienced Ombuds

Francine Montemurro has been named the inaugural Ombudsperson for AFA, the academic organization whose focus is the study and promotion of knowledge of financial economics. She has been a University Ombuds for over two decades and will be practicing to IOA standards. According to a charter for the position, Montemurro's primary focus will be to provide information and resources for matters related to AFA core activities, and for "assistance with concerns about AFA activities, an AFA member’s home institution, or the academic profession more broadly."

U.S. Ordo Templi Orientis Has an Ombuds Program for Members

This week, the U.S. Grand Lodge of secretive international fraternal and religious organization renamed its Ombudsman Office to the Ombuds. The program, "serves as an official liaison between the general membership of [Ordo Templi Orientis] within the United States..., assisting with resolution of problems and grievances." The U.S. Grand Lodge Ombuds Office was established by Frater Harmateus in 2007

December 02, 2019

Association for Jewish Studies Appoints First Ombuds

The largest academic Jewish Studies organization in the world has named three Ombuds as part of an effort to address long-standing complaints of sexual misconduct: Flora Cassen; Keren McGinity; and Mira Wasserman. All three are distinguished AJS members. As volunteer Ombuds, they will serve AJS members, conference registrants, and staff. The Ombuds Team members will provide information about resolution options within the AJS, work with complainants seeking informal resolutions, and "perform other relevant functions typical of an 'organizational ombudsman'."

Political Studies Review Article Traces Evolution of Modern Ombuds

The latest issue of the academic journal includes an article, "What Is an Ombudsperson? Global Diffusion, International Standardization, and Institutional Diversification." The authors, Norman J. Dolan and Colin J. Bennett, are on the faculty at the University of Victoria. 

November 29, 2019

Job Posting: Eastern Virginia Medical School

The independent public medical school in Norfolk is hiring an "Assistant Director, Training and Ombudsperson." This will be the first Ombuds for the school. In addition to providing diversity-related training for about 2,300 students, staff, and faculty, the position is also expected to provide Ombuds services 25% of the time.

November 28, 2019

Job Posting: Camosun College

The community college in Greater Victoria, British Columbia is hiring its next Student Ombudsperson. The search will fill a position held since 2008 by Carter McDonald, who is retiring. The full-time position single-handedly provides services to a student body of about 20,000 and reports to the VP of Student Experience.

November 27, 2019

Job Posting: VU University Medical Center Amsterdam

VU Medisch Centrum, the university hospital affiliated with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is hiring an Ombudsman. The position works to improve social safety, integrity, culture, and procedures/procedures for VUmc stakeholders through independent and confidential consultations, investigations, and upward feedback to the executive board. The position also manage an office comprised of one full-time (Martin Kersloot) and two part-time advisors (Käthy Blom and Sonja Snel).

November 26, 2019

Oakland County Circuit Court in Michigan Appoints New Ombuds

Julie I. Fershtman and Edward H. Pappas have been named the next Ombudspersons for the Oakland County Circuit Court. They follow Joel Serlin, who is retiring from the role he established in 2011. The Oakland County Circuit Court provides confidential, independent, neutral, and informal dispute resolution services for attorneys with concerns about the court, which is comprised of 19 elected judges and administrative staff in three divisions (civil/criminal, family, and business).

Meet the Student Ombuds at Kentucky State University

In late 2018, Sophia Rucker-Taylor was appointed the Student Ombudsperson for the public, historically black university in Frankfort. Last week, she was profiled for the campus newsletter. Rucker-Taylor is an alumnus of KSU and returned to work there in 2001 after nearly two decades at Texas Instruments. She is a first-generation college graduate and is especially gratified to help students complete their degrees. 

November 25, 2019

Several Colleges Gain Student Ombuds in Collaboration with University of Oslo

In August, Norway's legislature passed a law requiring Student Ombuds (Studentombudet) for all colleges an universities. Most large schools already have Ombuds in place, but the new law has presented a challenge to smaller schools. One solution emerged earlier this month. On November 18, the University of Oslo entered into a collaboration with six smaller colleges in Oslo for Ombuds services:

Ombuds for Frederick County Public Schools Posts Third Video of 2019

It's a video hat trick for Sabrina Nail, who opened the FCPS Ombuds Office in April. In her latest YouTube posting, Nail starts out by confronting employees with the question: "Do you know what an Ombuds is?" (following the humorous strategy of Jerry Nuesell at Wake Tech and Jen Schneider at USF). The second half of the video provides an overview of the Ombuds role. (FCPS YouTube.)

November 21, 2019

University of British Columbia Ombuds Reports Strong Growth in Cases in 2018

In an annual report that marked a decade of service to the large public university in Vancouver, UBC's Ombudsperson for Students, Shirley Nakata said that her office 546 cases in 2018. The caseload increased 21% from the prior year. Since Nakata was appointed and opened the office, cases have increased nine of ten years.

November 20, 2019

Emory University Selects Associate Ombuds

T. Brian Green has been named the first Associate Ombudsperson for private research university in Atlanta. In this full-time position, he will report to Lynell Cadray who was appointed the inaugural Emory University Ombudsperson last month. Based on the job description, it is expected that Green will be working with students and managing many of the administrative and strategic initiatives of the new office.

East Carolina University Names Faculty/Staff Ombuds

John Howard has been named the University Ombuds for ECU— a half-time position that provides services to faculty, staff, and administrators and report administratively to the Chancellor's chief of staff. Howard will be the first permanent University Ombuds; Mickey A. Herrin Sr., has served in an interim capacity since April 2019.

November 19, 2019

Job Posting: University of California Merced

The UC campus in Northern California is hiring an Assistant Ombudsperson. The position reports to Campus Ombuds Callale Concon and provides services to students, staff, and faculty at the fast-growing campus. The search will fill a position held by Valara Villanueva since January 2018.

Chevron Expands Ombuds Program With New Hire in Australia

Janet Vantriet has joined Chevron’s Global Office of Ombuds as an Ombuds Manager—the multinational company’s first Ombuds role outside the U.S. Vantriet is based in Perth and will report to the Global Principal Ombuds Manager, Sana Manjeshwar.

IOA Initiates Conference Scholarship for New/Aspiring Ombuds; Continues International Scholarship

The International Ombudsman Association is offering two scholarship programs for its 15th Annual Conference set for March 30 to April 1, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. The International Scholarship, which has been offered since 2014, will offer financial support for an Ombuds working in a country where the profession is not well developed. A new scholarship will support conference attendance for four people new to the Ombuds field or seeking to enter it, yet do not have organizational or institutional support to attend.;

November 18, 2019

Job Posting: Cold Spring Harbor Lab

The non-profit research and educational institution in Laurel Hollow, New York has opened a search for its first Ombudsman. The part-time, unbenefitted position will provide independent, confidential, neutral, & informal services to 1,200 staff members. The position has been created in part as a response to an endorsement by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for Ombuds to serve as a resource to address sexual harassment and discrimination.

Brigham and Women's Hospital Names Director of New Ombuds Program

Donald Proby has been selected as the Director of BWH's new Office of Mediation, Coaching and Ombuds Services. Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital is a teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School and part of the integrated health care system Partners HealthCare, the largest private employer in Massachusetts. Proby will head an office that will (according to the job posting earlier this year) "provide employee support, facilitate workable solutions solutions to conflict and to support individuals building skills to address and transform conflict." He was appointed in July.

Altinbas University Opens Ombuds Office

The young non-profit university in Istanbul, Turkey (Altınbaş Üniversitesi, formerly known as Istanbul Kemerburgaz University), has appointed Gizem Güray as its first Student Ombudsman. Guray serves a student population of about 8,000 following standards that are similar to IOA best practices.

November 15, 2019

Job Posting: University of Newcastle, Australia

The public university in New South Wales is hiring its first Student Ombudsman. "Reporting to the Director Assurance Services, this newly created critical role requires comprehensive knowledge and understanding of relevant legislative educational frameworks and environments [and] expertise in supporting and working with students regarding their academic progression and assisting them dealing with their academic concerns." The University of Newcastle enrolls about 37,000 students across six campuses.

November 13, 2019

Webcast to Feature Three University Ombuds

On November 20, Higher Ed Live, a media platform for professionals in higher education, will host a webcast focusing on the work of University Ombuds. Host Heather Shea discusses the important partnerships between Ombuds Offices and Student Affairs with three panelists: Shannon Burton at Michigan State; D. A. Graham at the University of Kansas; and Jennifer Schneider at the University of South Florida.

November 12, 2019

Job Posting: Gila River Indian Community

The Indian reservation on the south side of Phoenix, Arizona is hiring a its first Ombudsman. The position will "provide services which include being a liaison between Community Members and the Tribal Government, listening to citizens’ complaints when they think the Gila River Indian Community has treated them unfairly, and coaching, assisting, and investigating the complaints received from Community Members."

Journal of IOA Call for Papers: Special Issue on Sexual Harassment

The Journal of the International Ombudsman Association is pleased to announce a call for papers for a Special Issue on Responses of the Organizational Ombuds to Sexual Harassment. How do ombuds respond to sexual harassment within their organizations? What methods and strategies do they use, why do they use them, and with what outcomes? The JIOA invites papers that will focus on organizational ombuds’ most significant and challenging experiences in responding to and assisting with sexual harassment concerns.

Northern Illinois University Erodes Ombuds' Confidentiality

After years of pushing back against university administrators, NIU’s University Ombudsperson Sarah Klaper said that she has been designated as a Clery Reporter. In remarks for the university's Operating Staff Council, Klaper said she is concerned the change will compromise her office’s confidentiality. NIU made the change despite Klaper's explanation that Ombuds does not fit the statutory designation.

November 11, 2019

Job Posting: University of Alabama at Birmingham

The public university in Birmingham is hiring its first University Ombudsperson. The full-time position will serve neutral and impartial dispute resolution practitioner at UAB for faculty and staff, mentored graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. Currently, the university has only a part-time Faculty Ombuds—a position established by Michelle Fanucchi in 2016 and held on an interim basis by J. Michael Wyss since last year.

Job Posting: D.C. Schools Ombuds

The Ombudsman for Public Education in Washington, DC⁠—a neutral and independent office that provides conflict resolution services related to public education⁠—is hiring an Assistant Ombudsman. The position responds to complaints and concerns and assists with facilitating or mediating conflicts.

November 08, 2019

World Health Organization Adds an Ombuds in Southeast Asia

Dolores Gómez-Morán, CO-OP, has been appointed the Ombudsman for the WHO Regional Office in Southeast Asian (WHO SEAR), effective September 2, 2019. This is a new position in the WHO SEAR Region and is based in New Delhi, India. Gómez-Morán practices to IOA standards.

Job Posting: Federal Reserve System

The governing board of the U.S. central bank is hiring an Assistant Ombudsman. The Executive Ombuds position 1) acts as facilitator for the fair and timely resolution of complaints related to the System’s regulatory activities; 2) receives, reviews, and decides claims of retaliatory conduct by System staff; and 3) reports to Board members and senior Board staff on issues that may have a significant impact on the System’s mission, activities, or reputation, including patterns of issues that occur in multiple complaints. In addition, there are collateral administrative duties.

November 07, 2019

Job Posting: Transportation Security Administration

The TSA's Ombudsman Division (part of the Civil Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement Office) is hiring an Ombudsman Specialist based in Arlington, VA. The position serves internal and external stakeholders and about 25% travel is required.