June 30, 2020

Job Posting: Global Water Partnership

The intergovernmental organization based in Stockholm, is hiring its first Ombudsperson/Mediation Specialist. The position will, "offer informal services for resolving potential disputes/conflicts arising between GWPO as an employer and GWPO’s staff, as well as between GWPO staff." In addition to employment applications, GWPO will consider proposals from consulting firms. Geographical proximity to Stockholm is preferred and services will be provided as needed.

FOIA Request Reveals Ombuds Feedback About Ole Miss Confederate Monument

On June 18, 2020, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning voted to remove a Confederate monument from the University of Mississippi campus. The decision followed years of outcry from students, faculty and others. This week an Ole Miss professor posted emails from the University Ombuds, Paul Caffera, conveying feedback from visitors to the Ombuds Office. The emails were obtained through a public records act request and posted on Twitter by James M. Thomas.

ACCUO Statement Endorses Black Lives Matter

After hearing from its members the annual general meeting on June 17, 2020, the executive committee of the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudsperson issued a Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter. The statement includes recommendations for Ombuds to support anti-racist efforts.

Here is the full text:

June 29, 2020

University of Denver to Close Ombuds Program on Retirement of Jenna Brown

The private university in Colorado abruptly announced that it will discontinue its Ombuds position at the end of the June. Jenna Brown, who established the position in 1999, will retire and there are no plans to find a replacement. 

An announcement from DU's Chief of Staff recounted Brown's effective work at DU and significant professional reputation and achievements:

June 26, 2020

COFO Announces 2020 Conference and New Officers

The Coalition of Federal Ombudsman will hold a virtual conference on Friday, October 16th, 2020. For the past several years, the annual event has been available for attendees in person or online, but coronavirus concerns have forced the change. Organizers are seeking more volunteers for the conference committee.

IOA Press Release Highlights Multiple Studies Recommending Ombuds for Sexual Misconduct Response Programs

In a press briefing this week, the International Ombudsman Association touted the "growing number of prominent research organizations that recommend ombuds programs for confronting sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and for helping whistleblowers and others who come forward with concerns over misconduct." IOA pointed to studies released over the past by year by the Urban Institute, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the National Academy of Sciences, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

June 25, 2020

Organizers Cancel In-Person 2020 Cal Caucus

Due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the leaders of the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds have decided not to hold an in-person event this year. The move follows similar decisions by other Ombuds organizations including the IOA, IOI, and USOA. 

Here's the full text of the email announcement sent to members:

June 24, 2020

JIOA Article: Securing the Ombuds Office Through Upward Feedback

A new article in the peer-reviewed Journal of the International Ombudsman Association looks at the role of Ombuds as they serve as change agents for their organization. The authors, Susan S. Raines and Tavia Harrison, developed their findings together at Kennesaw State University, where Raines is a& Professor of Conflict Management and Harrison is completing her Master of Science in Conflict Management. ;The full article, "Overcoming Groundhog Day: Changing Organizational Culture while Institutionalizing the Ombudsman Role," is now available online.

June 22, 2020

IOA Publishes Guidance for Ombuds During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The International Ombudsman Association has published a memo addressing COVID-19 and how contract tracing may affect Ombuds practices. IOA Executive Director, Chuck Howard, was responding to inquiries from Association members, but the memo was posted on the IOA blog, which is open to the public.

Pitt School of Medicine Agrees to Black Students' Petition for Reforms, Promises Ombuds

Last Thursday afternoon, the Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine agreed to a wide range of demands from Black students. Over 400 students had signed a petition seeking changes such as scholarships for Black students to additional support staff to reforming curriculum and policies. According to an email obtained by The Pitt News, Anantha Shekhar, the Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and the School’s Dean, agreed to many of the demands, including the appointment of an Ombudsperson.

June 18, 2020

Asia Society’s 2020 Symposium to Feature UN and Chevron Ombuds

The Asia Society’s 2020 Global Talent, Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Symposium includes two prominent Ombuds as speakers: Shireen Dodson, United Nations Ombudsman, and Sana Manjeshwar, Global Principal Ombuds Manager, Chevron Corp. The two-day event next week

June 17, 2020

First Ombuds Named at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

Usman Asghar has been appointed the first Studentombud for Høgskolen I Innlandet, a public technical university in Norway. Ashgar will work with about 12,000 students across six campuses. His office has four values: independent, neutral, accommodating (imøtekommende), and confidential.

June 16, 2020

Harvard Grad Students Complete Consultation with University of Cincinnati Ombuds

This spring, two students in the Dispute Systems Design Clinic at the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program conducted an external review of the University of Cincinnati Ombuds Office. Peter Daniels and Katie Cordova conducted a "rigorous review of the office’s functions, its perceived effectiveness, and its reputation with campus stakeholders" to help the UC Ombuds Office advance its strategic goals following the appointment of a new director, Kim Fullbright.

Mary Rowe on What Employees Need Now

Rowe, a former Ombuds at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and adjunct professor at the Institute's School of Management, recently offered her thoughts on "one critical action or change that could improve the lives of working people in the United States during and after the COVID-19 pandemic." Not surprisingly, she said that employees need more say in the conditions they face in returning to work and that Ombuds are critical.

June 09, 2020

Long-Time Ombuds Retires from University of Western Ontario

Anita Pouliot, who was the Assistant Ombudsperson at Western for over two decades, retired last month. In addition to her work as the Ombuds for the public university with 25,000 students, Pouliot was a leader and key volunteer with the Association of Canadian College and University Ombuds. She helped create ACCUO create its first website in 1999 and served on many committees. Currently, Pouliot is the association's Treasurer and Archivist. 

June 08, 2020

ICRC Selects First Ombuds for Middle East and North Africa

The International Committee of the Red Cross has appointed Waged Jafer as its first Regional Ombuds for the Middle East and North Africa Region. In the position, Jafer is one of five full-time Ombuds who collaborate with more than 60 Ombuds Relays to serve 19,000 ICRC colleagues. Jafer will be based in Dubai and serve a three-year term.

Lakehead University Names Experienced Ombuds to Interim Position

Kim Morgan has stepped in as the Interim Ombudsperson for the public university in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She retired earlier this year after serving as the Ombudsperson at Confederation College for 12 years. Morgan follows Rob Thompson who moved to Camosun College in March. (Lakehead Ombuds.)

Interior Dept Ombuds to Speak at IACM 2020 Conference

Two Ombuds from the U.S. Department of the Interior will speak at the 33rd Annual Conference of the International Association for Conflict Management, which will be held online July 12-15, 2020. William Hall and Mary Chavez Rudolph from the DOI's Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution will give a session: "Did The Ombuds do It?: Evaluating Organizational Ombuds Services At The U.s. Department of The Interior."

June 04, 2020

IOA Calls for Fairness and Justice

Today, the International Ombudsman Association released a statement to its members in response to the protests following the killing of George Floyd. The letter by IOA Board President, Melanie Jagneaux, has been posted to the association's (now public) blog, The Independent Voice.

Cal Caucus Releases Statement on Black Lives Matter

Yesterday, the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds released a statement on Black Lives Matter. Here's the full text of what was sent in an email to members:

June 02, 2020

ENOHE to Host Online Forum to Discuss Pandemic Strategies

The European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education will host an online conversation to consider the effects of COVID-19 on universities and the work of Ombuds. The free Zoom meeting, "Comparing Concerns in COVID-times," will take place on June 10, 202 at 15:00-16:30 CET.

West Chester University Appoints First Two Ombuds

The public university in Chester County, Pennsylvania has named Joan Woolfrey as its first Faculty Ombuds and Lisa (Lisa Michelle Scott) Montgomery as its first Student Ombuds. WCU is the largest of the 14 state universities of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, with about 1,000 instructional staff and 17,000 students. Both offices practice to a published charter following IOA standards.

June 01, 2020

Retirement of Student Ombuds at TU Delft May Lead to Consolidated Ombuds Office

Niek Graafland, the Student Ombudsperson at the Delft University of Technology, has retired after serving in the role since 2016. Graafland acted as an independent intermediary for 21,000 students at the nation's leading university. According to a report in the campus newsletter, recruiting for a replacement has not started and administrators are now considering letting the current Staff Ombuds also serve students. Currently, Job van Luyken is halfway through a two-year pilot period as TU Delft's Staff Ombuds. (TU Delft Delta.)