May 29, 2020

Save the Date for Ombuds Day 2020

The third annual Ombuds Day will be October 8, 2020. The event seeks improve public awareness of Ombuds, connect Ombuds in their respective communities, and celebrate their important professional work. The theme is once again, "Ombuds: Unusual Name, Important Service." Updates are available from the ABA Ombuds Committee. (LinkedIn; Twitter; Facebook.) 

American Philosophical Association Names Ombuds for 2020-2023

The professional organization for philosophers in the U.S. has appointed Adam Omar Hosein as its next Ombudsperson. He takes over from Laurie Shrage, who just completed a three-year term (and who also established the position in 2008). The APA Ombudsperson serves as a resource for discrimination complaints from the association's 9,500 members. 

May 28, 2020

Pandemic Slows Hiring of First Ombuds at Northwestern University

Coalition NU, an ad hoc group of "underrepresented and underserved graduate students demanding justice," reports that the private university has paused its search for an Ombuds. The report is based on statements made by the interim Provost at a town hall meeting earlier today. 

IOA Past-President and Halliburton Ombuds Moves On

Anamaris Cousins-Price, who served as the President of the IOA Board of Directors in 2014-15, has announced that she is stepping down from her position as Corporate Ombudsman for Halliburton. Cousins-Price had been the Latin American Regional Ombudsman for the oil industry multinational for over 16 years. In addition, she had been a prominent speaker and advocate for the Organizational Ombuds profession. 

May 22, 2020

Job Posting: UN Funds and Programmes, Thailand

The United Nations' global development network has opened a search for an Ombudsman Specialist based in Bangkok. The position reports to the Office of the Ombudsman for UN Funds and Programmes and provides conflict managment services to staff members and non-staff personnel of the UN Funds and Programmes (including UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOPS and UN Women). Frequenttravel to field offices in Asia is required. The appointment is for one year and may be extended.

University of Texas Austin Opens Internal Search for Next Faculty Ombuds

UT Austin is seeking applications and nominations for its next University Faculty Ombudsperson. The search will fill a position held by Mary Steinhardt, since 2008. As the Faculty Ombuds, she operated independently from the Student Ombuds office. p;In October 2018, Steinhard, a Professor of Kinesiology and Health Education, received a $3.3 million NIH grant to continue her research on diabetes.

JIOA: Book Review of Virtue at Work

The latest article in the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association is a review of book relevant to Ombuds practice, Virtue at Work: Ethics for Individuals, Managers, and Organizations, by Geoff Moore. The reviewer, Elizabet Wendt, is a graduate of the University of Washington and currently works on issues of charter school compliance at Oakland Unified School District (which has a Classical Ombuds Office).

May 21, 2020

Title IX Director to Serve as First Ombuds for West Contra Costa Unified School District

The school district based in Richmond, California has designated Rhonda Haney as its first Ombudsperson. In this new role, she will serve as "an independent and confidential resource, assisting parents and community members in addressing complaints, conflicts, and other school-related issues." On the other hand, the Ombuds Office also "is responsible for the intake and monitoring of all formal District complaints." In addition to the Ombuds role, Haney serves as WCCUSD's Director of the Office of Educational Equity and Title IX. (WCCUSD Ombuds.)

IOA Opens Access to Blog

Since 2006, the International Ombudsman Association has produced a newsletter for its members: The Independent Voice. Initially a quarterly physical newsletter, it became a blog in 2007. This week, IOA has moved it from the members-only area of the website and made it public. "The Independent Voice" is currently edited by Jennifer S. Schneider, Student Ombuds at the University of South Florida, and Bryan J. Hanson, Ombudsperson for the Graduate School at Virginia Tech.

May 19, 2020

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 DOI bureaus and offices to increase and improve the use of collaborative decision-making and ADR processes (work that includes Ombuds services). Some travel is required (1-5 nights per month) and the position is also eligible for telework.

May 18, 2020

Job Posting: California Lutheran University

Cal Lutheran, a private liberal arts university in Thousand Oaks, California, has issued a request for proposals for Organizational Ombuds services. The university established an Ombuds program early last year with the appointment of Helena Goto and Alice Sarfati as Ombuds for its 445 staff members. The RFP indicates that the Ombuds program will now expand to 450 faculty and 4,300 students. 

West Texas A&M Names New Ombuds

Gary L. Byrd has been appointed the next Faculty Ombuds for the public university in Canyon, Texas. He succeeds Harry R. Hueston, who established the position in 2013. Byrd is a Professor of Psychology and has been a WTAMU faculty since 1975.

May 15, 2020

New Labor Agreement Will Create Staff Ombuds Positions at Leading Dutch Universities

The week, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (Vereniging van Universiteiten which was originally called Vereniging van Samenwerkende Nederlandse Universiteiten "VSNU") reached an agreement with four employee organizations. A significant concession was the appointment of Ombuds for Staff at all member institutions starting July 2021. Currently, Just half of  VSNU members have Ombuds for Staff. 

Study Finds Ombuds are 'What Works' for Diversity and Inclusion

A new study published by the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst aims to answer the question: What steps to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion are actually working. Sociologists David Pedulla (Stanford) and Devah Pager (Harvard) convened leading experts on bias, technology, discrimination, and organizational design. From this research, they found five key insights that can serve as tools for making their workplaces more diverse and thriving: 

May 12, 2020

Connecticut College Hires Dedicated Ombuds for Staff

Amy Sereday has been selected as the first Staff Ombudsperson for the private liberal arts college in New London. Sereday joins David Dorfman, Professor of Dance, and Christine Chung, Associate Professor of Computer Science, who serve as part-time Faculty Ombudspersons for three-year appointments. Sereday will available year-round for all employees, faculty and staff.

Podcast Features Contract Ombuds

Last week, Jennifer Crittenden interviewed a contract Ombuds for her podcast, Dear Discrete Guide. Her guest, Selina Shultz, owns a consulting practice, the Conflict Lab, that provides a range of dispute resolution and organizational services. The podcast is available free from Podomatic.


May 11, 2020

University of Utah Health Sciences Appoints Next Two Ombuds

The academic health care system based in Salt Lake City has named Casi A. Morales and Joan Sheetz as its next Ombudsmen. Together, they serve more than 14,000 faculty and staff, and take on Ombuds duties part-time. They succeed Jim Ruble and Michael Cohen, who established the program five years ago. (University of Utah Health Ombuds.)

Webinar to Introduce New Ombuds for Federal Contractors

On May 20, 2020, JD Supra (a publisher of legal content) will host an online meet and greet with the new Ombudsman for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Marcus Stergio. The event is free and takes place at 2:00 pm Eastern. 

Comics Studies Society Names First Ombuds

Andrew Kunka has been appointed the first Ombudsperson for CSS, the professional association for the critical study of comics. Duties for the position have not been made public, but the Society is following the recent trend by appointing an Ombuds to help address historic gender bias. As the Ombuds, Kunka is a member of the CSS executive board; he also is a member of the Code of Conduct Committee. Kunka is a Professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter. (CSS Board; USC Bio.)

May 08, 2020

Job Posting: University of North Carolina

UNC Chapel Hill has opened a search for an Associate Ombuds. The position is part of an office that provides Ombuds services to more than 40,000 students, staff, faculty, and administrators. The position reports to the University Ombuds, Dawn Osborne-Adams.

Winthrop University Appoints First Ombuds

Earlier this year, Jackie Concodora was selected as the first Ombudsperson for the public liberal arts university in Rock Hill, South Carolina. In the new part-time position, Concodora will serve 850 faculty and staff, practicing to IOA standards for an initial three-year term. She takes on the Ombuds role and continues as Winthrop's Director of Health and Counseling Services.

May 07, 2020

Work of American University Ombuds Largely Intact After Title IX Rule Changes

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education issued long-awaited changes to its Title IX rules, which will give new of protections to people accused of sexual assault on college campuses. The Departments new rules, which go into effect on August 14, were laid out in a 2,000 page memo. The rules explicitly address the role of Ombuds in higher education, prompted in part by public comments from the International Ombudsman Association and others in the Ombuds field. (Title IX only applies to schools that receive federal funds, so the new rules have no impact on Ombuds working in other sectors or jursidictions.) 

McGill University Selects Next Ombuds

Last week, Patricia Faison Hewlin began a five-year mandate as the Ombudsperson for Students. In the half-time appointment, she will head a office that serves over 40,000 students and handles about 200 cases a year. She succeeds Dimitrios Berk and joins Carmela Parzanese, the Assistant to the Ombudsperson. 

May 05, 2020

ENOHE Publishes Proceedings of 2019 Conference in Spain

In June 2019, the European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education and the University of León, Spain, held a joint conference.  The proceedings from the event, "Defending and Protecting Rights within Higher Education: Stocktaking, Looking Ahead“ are now available online.

May 04, 2020

Dutch Association of Higher Education Ombudsmen Creates Website

The Association of Higher Education Ombudsmen (Vereniging Ombudsmannen in het Hoger Onderwijs, "VOHO") comprises two dozen Ombuds at colleges and universities across the Netherlands. The association was formed officially in 2019, but originated in 2001 as the National Consultation Ombudsmen in Higher Education (Landelijk Overleg Ombudsmannen in het Hoger Onderwijs). The new website provides a history, news items, articles, and other information. Previously, VOHO's web page had been hosted by the European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education.

May 01, 2020

MacEwan University Suddenly Closes Ombuds Office

According to multiple Twitter accounts, the public undergraduate university in Edmonton, Alberta, shuttered its Ombuds office on April 30. Cathryn Heslep served as the Student Ombudsperson, serving a population of about 20,000, since establishing the role in May 2016. She had worked at the school in a variety of positions for over three decades. MacEwan has not yet made an official announcement, but has been eliminating positions due to a budget crisis that predated the pandemic. (Twitter @MinnieSherret95, @almcm_; Edmonton Journal.)

IOA Online Community Forums Launch Next Week

The International Ombudsman Association Board of Directors will begin offering a series of online "Community Connections" next week. These will be similar to sector forums that are part of the IOA annual conference, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Community Connections will continue through the summer. 

Haverford College Ombuds Works to Improve Name Recognition

Steve Watter, who became the first Ombuds for the private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania last year, was profiled in a recent article for the campus newspaper. He admits that, despite a successful first year, the office continues to struggle with name recognition. “Has it caught on to the extent that I had hoped? I guess the answer is not quite,” said Watter. But, he added, “I think we’re getting there.” His efforts are complicated now as he is now working remotely. (Haverford Clerk.)