March 31, 2020

Experienced Ombuds Moves to University of Washington

The Office of the Ombud at UW has selected Ruthy Kohorn Rosenberg as its next Associate Ombud. She starts April 1, and report to University Ombud, Chuck Sloan. She fills a position vacated by Emma Phan, who moved to Seattle's new Office of the Employee Ombud. Rosenberg had served as the University Ombuds at Brown. Here's the announcement of her departure by Brown's President:

Brown University Appoints Interim Ombuds

Julie Weber, CO-OP, has been named the Interim Univeristy Ombudsperson, succeeding Ruthy Kohorn Rosenberg, who established the position eight years ago. Weber comes from Montgomery College, the large community college in Maryland, where she had been the Ombuds since 2016. She hosted a virtual Open House for her office at Brown yesterday. A national search for the permanent Ombuds is expected in the next few weeks.

Students at University of Ottawa Reject Budget Increase for Ombuds

Despite robust growth in its caseload, a referendum to increase funding for the U of O Ombuds Office failed last week. The proposed levy would have increased student fees from from $1.06 to $1.50 per semester. The referendum failed, with 57.5 per cent of voters against the increase. (The Fulcrum.)

Athlete Files Complaint Against Olympic Ombuds

Last week a nationally-ranked American badminton player , Mathew Fogarty, filed a complaint against the U.S. United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Athlete Ombudsman, Kacie Wallace. Fogarty, a frequent critic of his sport's national governing board, claimed that Wallace improperly gave legal advice to USA Badminton when he complained about being disqualified for the 2019 Pan American Games. The USOPC Director for Athlete Outreach and Engagement promised to investigate the complaint. (Long Beach Press-Telegram.)

March 30, 2020

New York Area Ombuds Group Sets Virtual Meeting

Joan C. Waters, Columbia's University Ombuds Officer, and Wendy E. Kamenshine, Ombudsman for CFPB Ombudsman’s Office, are organizing a meeting of the New York Area Ombuds Group via Zoom on April 24, 2020. 

Call for Presenters: Cal Caucus 2020

In an optimistic announcement, the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds said that it is planning its next annual meeting conference and is seeking proposals from speakers. The 47th Cal Caucus is set for November 11-14, 2020 at the Asolimar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove. The theme for the caucus is "Elevating Curiosity: Embracing Identities and Strengthening Community."

March 27, 2020

Colorado Ombuzz Blog Offers Virtual Work Pointers

Two recent posts in Ombuzz, the University of Colorado Ombuds blog, provide some timely suggestions for people working at home. The posts are by Liz Hill, the Associate Director of the Ombuds Office at the University of Colorado Boulder. 

Colorado College to Host Virtual Meeting of Colorado Ombuds

Colorado College Ombuds Paul Kuerbis will facilitate the Colorado Ombuds Group Spring 2020 Meeting on Friday, April 17, 2020 via Zoom. This is the group's first attempt at a virtual meeting and they are hoping to engage with more Colorado ombuds. The agenda includes case discussion, a presentation by Teresa Ralicki on Conflict Theory and the good, the bad and the ugly of virtual ombudsing. If you are an ombuds/ombudsman in Colorado and are not on the roster contact Liz Hill (elizabeth dot hill at colorado dot edu) for more information.

Trendspotting: Ombuds Virtual Open Houses

In response to coronavirus shutdowns, some Ombuds offices are hosting regular, virtual open houses to reach constituents. Here's a list, which will be updated:

March 26, 2020

Brigham Health's Coaching, Mediation, and Ombuds Program Goes Online

Earlier this month, Brigham Health debuted a website for its new Office of Mediation, Coaching, Ombuds and Support Services. The integrated office is headed by Donald Proby and managed by Pamela Galowitz, a long-time program manager at Brigham, but no staff are identified on the new website. It is also notable that the office debuted as a remote service, due to the COVID-19 crisis. (BWH OMCOSS; Linkedin.)

March 24, 2020

Ombuds Moves to UC San Francisco

Jon Lee, CO-OP, is the new Associate Ombuds at the the UCSF Office of the Ombuds. He had been in a similar position at the University of New Mexico and fills a vacancy left by Jeff Anderson. He joins Director, Maureen Brodie (who will retire this summer), and Ombudsperson, Ellen Goldstein. Lee gave the Mary Rowe Honorary Keynote Address at IOA's 2019 IOA Conference and has been an active advocate for the profession, especially through his volunteer work on the ABA Ombuds Committee.

Offer to Promote Regional Ombuds Meetings

The Ombuds Blog will help local Ombuds groups organize and advertise virtual meetings. Email or DM me with questions and details.

Related posts: IOA Posts List of Regional and Sector Ombuds GroupsUSC to Host Southern California Ombuds Group.

March 23, 2020

USC to Host Southern California Ombuds Group

The Office of the Ombuds at the University of Southern California will host a virtual meeting of the Southern California Ombuds Group on Friday afternoon, April 3, 2020. USC University Ombuds Katherine Greenwood and Tom Kosakowski will facilitate the meeting, which is still being planned. Please RSVP by email [kosakows at usc dot edu] for a link to the Zoom conference and more details. 

Student Protesters at SCAD Post Recording of Ombuds Meeting

An ad hoc student group, "A Choice SCAD," is protesting some of the pandemic responses by the Savannah College of Art and Design. Last week, a student leader met with SCAD's Ombuds, Sophia Alletto, recorded the conversation, and posted an excerpt. (Alletto has been the Ombuds since 2008.) A follow-up post by A Choice SCAD explained that the recording was legal under Georgia's wiretapping law, which follows "one-party consent" rule. SCAD's Dean of Students later requested the group take down the recording of the Ombuds. They refused and threatened to release the full recording. The situation continues to develop. (Twitter; LinkedIn.)

NEIU Ombuds Offers Conflict Management Tips for a Pandemic

Tyler Smith, the Northeastern Illinois University Ombuds has posted a video with "basic ideas for conflict prevention and management during a time of remote work/teaching/learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic." In his introduction, Smith predicts that the uncertainty and anxiety that come with the pandemic response may lead to new conflicts. His advice is intended is to help people prevent and manage conflict in a range of settings. (YouTube.)

March 20, 2020

JIOA: Article Traces the U.S. History of Student Ombuds

A new article in the peer-reviewed Journal of the International Ombudsman Association surveys the development of Student Ombuds in the United States. The author, Ryan Smith, serves as the Assistant University Ombudsperson at Michigan State University. The full article, "A Brief History of the Student Ombudsman: The Early Evolution of the Role in US Higher Education," is now available online.

March 19, 2020

IOA to Hold 2020 Annual Business Meeting Online

Although the International Ombudsman Association has cancelled its conference, it will convene its annual members-only business meeting virtually on April 1, 2020. In addition to the association's business, the meeting will host a open "community dialog" for participants to talk about the future of the profession.

Here is the full announcement: 

March 18, 2020

ACCUO/ENOHE 2020 Conference is Postponed

The Association of Canadian College and University Ombuds and European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education announced that their 2020 conference will be rescheduled. Organizers are considering October 2020 at the earliest, but plans are still unclear. (ENOHE Conf Info.)

NC State Ombuds Opens Virtual Open House for COVID-19 Response

Today, North Carolina State University Faculty & Staff Ombuds Roy Baroff launched a weekly virtual open house. Dubbed "Ombuds-19," the Zoom conference provides for NC State employees a place for engaging with conflict. The open house will run from noon to 12:19 pm (just 19 minutes long) for the next 10 Wednesdays.(NCSU Faculty Ombuds Blog.)

JIOA: A Plan for a National Ombuds for Consumer Dispute Resolution

The latest article in the peer-reviewed Journal of the International Ombudsman Association promotes the use of Ombuds as an alternative to the widespread mandatory arbitration in consumer dispute. The author, Mala Sharma, is a consultant and attorney and PhD candidate at the School of Law, University of Surrey. The full article, "A Fair Alternative to Unfair Arbitration: Proposing an Ombudsman Scheme for Consumer Dispute Resolution in the USA," is now available online.

March 17, 2020

Four-Part Series on Virtual Ombudsing

Teresa Ralicki, the Ombuds for the University of Colorado Denver and former IOA Board VP, is publishing a series of articles on how to Ombuds virtually. The first two installments have been posted to LinkedIn:

UC Santa Barbara Ombuds Offers Guidance for Virtual Meetings

Don Lubach, the Associate Ombuds at UCSB, has posted a helpful video, "Good Meetings From Your Desktop." The video is aimed at UCSB employees working from home. It's a good example of Ombuds responding to significant organizational changes and also an Ombuds modeling a resilient mindset. (YouTube.)

Florida International University Names Ombuds

In January, Lauren Christos was appointed next Faculty Ombuds for Florida International. She follows Barbara Bader, who served in the role for five years. Meanwhile, Sofia Trelles, who has been serving as the interim Student Ombudsperson since December 2018, has become the incumbent. (FIU Faculty Ombuds, University Ombuds.)

Separately, FIU has told students returning to campus after April 4 who have traveled to China, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Italy or Iran, that they must submit a Student Medical Clearance Form to the university Ombudsperson. (FIU Coronavirus FAQ's.)

March 12, 2020

Camosun College Selects Former Lakehead University Ombuds

Rob Thompson, who had served as a part-time Ombuds for Lakehead University, will be the next full-time Ombuds at Camosun College. He fills a position recently vacated by Carter McDonald, who retiring after a decade in the role. 

Ombuds Moves from UCSF to Department of Energy

Jeff Anderson, previously an Associate Ombuds at the University of California San Francisco, has moved to a similar post at the DOE. He fills a position recently vacated by Bill Mauer, who moved the the Census Bureau. This is Anderson's third Ombuds position; prior to UCSF, Anderson was an Associate Ombuds at the Department of State.

University of Idaho Ombuds Releases 2019 Report

Laura Smythe, who became the University of Idaho Ombuds in October 2018, has posted her first report. Smythe says that in her first nine months on the job, she handled 227 cases—a significant increase on an annual basis from prior years.

March 11, 2020

Update: IOA Cancels 2020 Conference

In an email sent late today, the International Ombudsman Association said it had finally decided to cancel its 2020 annual conference in Portland, Oregon. Registrants will be entitled to a full refund. Conference organizers are still working on ways to share content from conference speakers.

Here is the full email sent to IOA members:

Job Posting: Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

The independent federal that provides mediation services government agencies and other entities worldwide is hiring an Executive Ombudsman. The position will, "provide technical leadership and direction for the FMCS internal ombuds program [and] promote the use of ombuds services to FMCS stakeholders and provide ombuds services to other federal agencies." Some travel is required.

Update: ACCUO/ENOHE Still Planning for 2020 Conference

The Association of Canadian College and University Ombuds and European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education are still planning for their joint conference, May 26-29, 2020 at the National Technical University of Athens. Organizers have have sent out an email acknowledging the uncertainties because of the developing COVID-19 crisis in Europe.

Here's the full email:

Meet the Ombuds for Indiana University School of Medicine

Marly Bradley and Joe DiMicco are the Ombudspersons for about 5,000 students, residents, fellows, graduate students, and faculty and other academic appointees at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Bradley has been in the post for two years and DiMicco founded the program three years ago. They were just profiled in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology magazine, ASBMB Today.

March 10, 2020

Brandeis University Adds an Ombuds

Brandeis University Ombuds Office continues its expansion with the appointment of Mike Rozinsky as a part-time Ombuds Officer. He brings over 20 years of professional experience to the office and is a Master’s Candidate in Conflict Resolution at UMass Boston. Rozinsky is joining Brandeis Ombuds Don Greenstein and (collateral duty) Ombuds Elena Lewis

Podcast Interview With Ombuds at Eastern Michigan University

EMU Ombuds Associate Director Julia Heck and graduate Assistant Michayla Petel sat down for an interview with The Eastern Echo, the campus newspaper, last week. Heck said that her caseload has been increasing the past few years and that they see 450-500 students a year. Heck and Petel talk about the Ombuds' role and the kinds of issues they deal with most frequently. It's a good overview of the work done by campus Ombuds. (The Eastern Echo.)

March 06, 2020

IOA Extends Cancellation Deadline for 2020 Conference

In response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the International Ombudsman Association said that the deadline to cancel registrations has been  annual extended from March 9 to March 16, 2020.  No other changes for the annual conference have been announced. (IOA Travel-Safety.)

Update: IOA Cancels Foundations in Geneva

In the wake of travel restrictions affecting instructors and participants, the International Ombudsman Association has cancelled its planned offering of Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice course in Geneva, April 22-24, 2020. The course had already reached it's capacity of 24 participants and people were on a waiting list. IOA has not announced any new dates for a European Foundations course.

Updated 3/10/20: Embarrassing typos corrected.

March 04, 2020

Kennesaw State to Host Ombuds Professional Development in June

Kennesaw State University will host a two-day Ombuds workshop in Savannah on June 4-4, 2020. Based on feedback from last year's participants, organizers have developed an agenda with experienced Ombuds professionals delivering each session:

Long Read: Profile of Syracuse University's Ombuds

The multimedia news site, The Newshouse, has a long-form journalism piece about Neal Powless, the Syracuse University Ombuds. The focus of the article is on Powless's life and role as a community leader. He brings a perspective to his work that is rooted in his experience growing up in the Onondaga Eel Clan on a reservation not far from Syracuse. “I see how systems impact individuals. I understand how these big hierarchical systems grind people up—” He takes special care with those last three words, his voice dropping to a whisper. “And understanding how that same system has ground up my ancestors too, there’s something that we can all share.”

University of Ottawa Ombuds Posts 2019 Report

U of O University Ombuds Martine Conway said that her office saw an increase in cases of more than 12% in 2018-19. The year was also the first year of service for Conway and the new Assistant Ombudsperson, Evelyne Poisson. Together they heard from 335 students, 36 employees, 241 applicants, and 38 others. In addition to statistical data, the report also lays out half a dozen prominent issues and recommendations for the campus. (uOttawa Ombuds 2019 Report; The Fulcrum.)

March 03, 2020

IOA Names First Conference Ombuds

The International Ombudsman Association has selected Elaine Shaw, CO-OP, as its first conference Ombuds. She will pilot a new program of providing services to participants at IOA's annual conference, March 30-April 1, 2020, in Portland, Oregon. Shaw will be available at the conference and for a limited time following the conference.

Job Posting: Lakehead University

The public university in Thunder Bay, Ontario is hiring a permanent, part-time (25 hours/week) Ombudsperson. The position works with faculty, staff, and students (a total population of about 11,000) and reports to the provost. Rob Thompson has served in the position since September 2018.

March 02, 2020

City of Lublin, Poland Appoints Ombuds for Students

On January 30, 2020, the mayor of Poland's ninth-largest city, Krzysztof Żuk, appointed Philip Unilowski at the city's first Ombudsman for students. Żuk was inspired by the work of student Ombuds at Western Universities. Unilowski's tasks will include "facilitating communication between pupils, local authorities and teachers, clarifying and promoting the rights of pupils, providing assistance to pupils in the event of a violation of these rights and representing the interests of children and young people before the authorities."

Job Posting: Lesley University

The private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts is hiring an Executive Assistant to the Dean and Ombudsperson for Students. A prior identical search in April 2019 apparently was unsuccessful. In addition to providing executive administrative support to the Dean of Student Life & Academic Development, the new Ombuds position will serve a student body of more than 7,000 . Many of the duties are in direct conflict with the Ombuds role (i.e., prepare reports, maintain confidential student files, track sanctions and follow-up actions, and track Clery data).

March 01, 2020

IOA Adopting COVID-19 Precautions for 2020 Conference

In an email sent Friday night, leaders of the International Ombudsman Association said that the annual conference later this month will go ahead as planned. Nonetheless, preventive measures are planned for the event set for March 27 to April 1, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Separately IOA announced that registrations may be canceled up to March 9.