November 30, 2020

KU Leuven Announces Next Ombuds

Pol Ghesquière has been named the next Ombudsperson for staff at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the prominent research university in Flanders, Belgium. He succeeds Omer Van den Bergh, who held the position for nearly five years and saw cases rise from about sixty per year to between 450 and 500 in 2019. Ghesquière explained why he took on the Ombuds role:

November 27, 2020

UN Resolution Endorsing International Ombuds Organizations Notably Excludes IOA

Last week the United Nations adopted a resolution on, "The role of Ombudsman and mediator institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights, good governance and the rule of law." The resolution solidifies the relationship between the UN and the International Ombudsman Institute, and explicitly supports Classical Ombuds schemes in member states. Although the UN's own internal Ombuds and Mediation Service and most UN-affiliated entities with Ombuds programs practice to International Ombudsman Association standards, the IOA is not mentioned in the resolution.

Ombuds at University of Alberta Releases 2019-20 Annual Report

The Office of the Student Ombuds at UAlberta has posted its annual summary of activities for the most recent academic year. The report's focus is qualitative and leads with an explanation of the Ombuds' services and student testimonials. The data reflect a significant increase in casework: the office assisted 1,320 clients in 2019-20, an 11% annual increase. The report concludes with a review of its recommendations from 2018-19 and offers new recommendations. 

November 25, 2020

Call for Presenters: IOA's 2021 Conference

The International Ombudsman Association is inviting presentation and speaker proposals for its 16th annual conference, which will take place virtually, March 22-24, 20201. The theme is "Bridging the Distance: Paving the Way for Equity and Justice." Proposals are due by Monday, December 14, 2020 and should help attendees consider: How the ombuds field can expand its reach and impact; How ombuds can be “thought leaders” as well as conflict navigators in an increasingly polarized world; and How ombuds work plays a role in framing equity and justice issues for the constituents we serve.

ENOHE Occasional Paper: “Comparing Concerns: COVID-19 Webinar”

The European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education has published its 13th occasional paper, which summarizes a webinar on June 10, 2020. Ombuds from four different countries–Mexico, Spain, Germany and Poland–shared their experiences from their institutions during the COVID-time and discussed on how the current situation affects their roles and work directly or indirectly.

November 24, 2020

Job Re-Posting: Northwestern University

The private research university based in Evanston, Illinois has reopened the search for its first Ombudsperson. The job was originally posted in February 2020, but the it was shelved when the pandemic shut down the campus. The position will serve faculty, staff, and students, including those at campuses in Chicago and Doha, Qatar—about 30,000 people. The Ombuds will report to the provost and practice to IOA standards.

Asian Development Bank Ombuds Posts 2019 Annual Report

The ADB Ombudsperson, Wayne Blair., has published a report detailing the work of his office last year. He and his staff managed 497 cases in 2019, a 35% increase from the previous year. Blair said, "The issues raised by people who sought our office’s assistance and the trends and patterns of concerns we observed closely mirrored those from 2018," with significant numbers of women and first-year staff struggling with workplace issues. 

November 23, 2020

University of Twente's Ombuds Reflects on First Year

Han Warmelink was appointed to a two-year term as the first Ombuds Officer for students and employees at Universiteit Twente October 2019. He recently talked about his experience with the UTwente campus newspaper. Warmelink said that there was clearly a need for the new service. "In less than a year I had to deal with 39 cases. The confidential advisors receive twenty reports a year, the complaints committee a handful. Apparently there was room that had not yet been filled. In addition, the number of cases remains fairly stable, with an average of one new case per week."

IOA's First Conference Ombuds Hired for Pilot Year

Elaine Shaw, CO-OP, who served as the International Ombudsman Association's first Conference Ombuds, has been hired for a one-year pilot period. As the IOA Ombuds, Shaw will provide services to IOA members, conference attendees (virtually or on-site if the conference is held in in-person in Indianapolis, IN, as currently planned), and others in the IOA community. (IOA Ombuds.)

November 20, 2020

Job Posting: U.S. Census Bureau

The Department of Commerce agency is hiring two Associate Ombuds, who will report to the Census Bureau Ombudsman, Bill MaurerCO-OP. The positions are to be based in Suitland, Maryland and Jeffersonville, Indiana, and  occasional travel may be required. Telework may also be possible.

IOA Board Shares Three-Year Strategic Plan

The Board of Directors for the International Ombudsman Association has completed a strategic plan for 2021 through 2024. The Board engaged Solid Ground Consulting and solicited input from a range of IOA leaders, volunteers and members. 

The IOA Strategic Direction includes five important elements:

November 19, 2020

Ombuds at Erasmus University Releases First Annual Report

Edith Weijnen has published a report marking her first year as the Ombudsman for students and staff at the large, public university in Rotterdam. Weijnen handled 122 employee cases and 22 student matters. More than half of the cases were about the culture at Erasmus University and a significant number related to stress brought on by the pandemic. She issued several specific insights and recommendations that were positively received by the administration. (Erasmus Magazine.)

Call for Presenters: ABA 2021 Dispute Resolution Conference

The American Bar Association's Section on Dispute Resolution is planning its Annual Spring Conference for Los Angeles, on April 14-17, 2021 (which does not conflict with the IOA conference).  The conference theme is "Agility, Disruption and Reinvention: ADR in a New World." This will be a hybrid event with in-person programing and virtual options. Organizers are inviting proposals in a variety of formats, including: Speed Share; Panel Programs; Roundtable Discussions; Resource Share; TechTools Presentations; and Workshops. Speakers will pay a reduced registration fee for the conference.  Programs proposals are due by November 30, 2020. (ABA Events.)

November 18, 2020

Job Posting: Arrow Alliance Industries

The project management company is hiring a Senior Conflict Resolution Specialist in Washington, DC. The position will "provide mediation, facilitation, coaching, or ombuds services" to an unnamed client. (Arrow Alliance Industries is a government contractor, primarily for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.) Applicants must have a minimum of 11 years of experience in mediation, facilitation, coaching, or Ombuds services; at least 40 hours of relevant training; and knowledge of Integrated Conflict Management Systems and administrative processes. Salary and application deadline not provided. (

TYPO3 Seeks Input for First Ombuds Program

The oversight board for the popular content management system is requesting community input for an Ombuds program. (TYPO3 has a prominent share of the CMS market in Europe, especially German-speaking countries. A competitor, Joomla! recently created an Ombuds program.) The TYPO3 Association Board has been looking into an Ombuds for the past year as part of an effort to respond to conflicts, harassment, and issues relating to inclusion, equality, and diversity in their communities. A task force has created a webpage with a survey to collect input from TYPO3 users and submit a proposal to the Board. (TYPO3 Community.)

Research Confirms that Preparation Improves Conflict Outcomes

A recent pair of studies found that people who prepared by thinking about others' perspectives and an outsider's viewpoint before an anticipated interpersonal conflict felt better about the other person afterward. The study, “Wise Reasoning About the Future Is Associated With Adaptive Interpersonal Feelings After Relational Challenges,” was authored by Johanna Peetz and Igor Grossmann, and published in the journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science

November 17, 2020

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Names New Ombuds

Dallas Brown has been appointed the next Organizational Ombudsman for the Department of Homeland Security agency that coordinates federal cybersecurity efforts. Brown joined DHS in 2008, serving initially as Chief Operating Officer and acting Under Secretary for CISA’s predecessor, the National Protection and Programs Directorate. Prior to that, he had a career in the Army that culminated at the rank of Colonel when he retired in 2005. His posts included serving Director for Multilateral Affairs on the National Security Council Staff at the White House. He follows Reggie McKinney, who held the position for about five year.

November 16, 2020

Job Posting: Grand Valley State University

The public, liberal arts university in Allendale, Michigan will hire its first Employee Ombuds. The position will serve faculty, staff, and administrators and coordinate with GVSU's Students Ombuds, Takeelia Garrett. Unlike the Student Ombuds, which reports to the Dean of Students, the new Employee Ombuds will report to the University President.

American Society for Aesthetics Reappoints First Ombuds

Jeanette Bicknell, who established the Ombuds program for the philosophical organization in 2018, has been reappointed to a second three-year term. As the ASA Ombuds, Bicknell is the primary resource and point of contact for members with concerns about discrimination, including sexual harassment. (ASA News.)

November 12, 2020

Georgetown Plans to Expand Ombuds Service to All Students

The Georgetown University Provost has announced that the campus Ombuds program will soon serve the entire student body. Previously, the Georgetown Ombuds have been a resource only for faculty and some graduate students. (Separately, Georgetown School of Medicine has an Ombuds for its students.) The new Ombuds will be a permanent staff in the Provost's office, reporting to the Vice Provost for Education and practicing to IOA standards. It does not appear that there is any plan for the Ombuds to serve staff. 

York University Ombuds Announces Retirement; Interim Appointed

John D. McCamus, who has served as Ombudsperson at York since March 2009, has retired. McCamus began his career as a Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in 1971 and eventually served as Dean. He retired from the faculty in 2013, but continued in the Ombuds role. Maureen Armstrong has been appointed Interim University Ombudsperson. She was York's University Secretary and General Counsel from 2014 until her retirement in 2019. (YorkU News.)

November 09, 2020

Job Posting: Ubisoft, Canada

The French video game company is hiring its first Ombuds for its Canadian studios in Montreal. "The Ombuds’s role is impartial and independent of the organization, and they report directly to the President of the Nominations, Compensation and Governance Committee of the Ubisoft Group’s Board of Directors. As this is an external position, they will work in collaboration and complementarity with the company’s various internal processes and departments, such as human resources, to ensure cohesion and transparency for studio employees and senior management."

Clark University Names First Ombuds

The private university in Worcester, Massachusetts has appointed Israela Brill-Cass as its first Ombudsperson for 500 plus faculty and staff. Clark has been considering an Ombuds since at least 2010, when students petitioned for an Ombuds after a staff strike. Brill-Cass starts on November 12, 2020 and will report to Clark's new President, who started this summer. Meanwhile, she continues as the Ombuds for Wesleyan University, a position she established in 2017.

November 06, 2020

Job Posting: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The federal agency that issues patents and registers trademarks is hiring a Senior Ombudsman in Alexandria, Virginia. Reporting to Paul Sotoudeh, the USPTO Chief Ombudsman, the position serves, "USPTO employees and managers, including bargaining unit and non-bargaining unit employees, supervisors of all experience levels, and senior executives, and working to help prevent, address, and facilitate resolution of workplace conflict." Some travel is required.

Job Posting: United Nations, New York

The Office of the Ombudsman for UN Funds and Programmes (which comprises UNDP / UNFPA / UNICEF/ UNOPS / UN Women) is seeking a Conflict Coaching Consultancy. The consultant will provide conflict coaching services to funds and programmes’ staff members and non-staff personnel at the direction of the Deputy Ombudsman, Giuseppe De Palo. Some travel to field offices is required. 

Office for the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to Consider Group Complaints from Students

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, the Ombudsman for university students in England and Wales, is proposing a rule change to allow complaints from large groups.  The change could open the door for OIA investigations where a particular problem has impacted a many students, including students who have not completed their university's internal grievance procedures.

Ombuds at Northern Illinois University Reports Surge in Mediation Work

In a report to NIU’s University Council, Ombudsperson Sarah Klaper said she conducted a record number of mediations and facilitationsin the 2019-20 academic year. “I was involved in 74. A lot of it was involving respect, ethical concerns, discrimination issues, fears,” she told the student newspaper, Northern Star

November 04, 2020

Policy Magazine: The Future of Ombuds in Canada

The bi-monthly magazine about Canadian politics and public policy features an analysis by Howard Sapers, the former Correctional Investigator of Canada, and Daniel Johns, Manager of Institutional Knowledge and Research with the Alberta Ombudsman,: "The Future of Ombudship in Canada." The authors write, "At a moment in history when trust in public institutions has been depleted by corruption and democracy is under siege in many parts of the world, the role of the public ombuds as mediator between citizens and their governments has never been more crucial."

Independent Coalition Campaigns to Restore Dartmouth Ombuds

An independent group of students and employees has launched a petition to reinstate the Ombuds Office at Dartmouth College. The leadership of the group is identified and it is not clear whether the current effort is related to an advocacy group, “Dartmouth Community Against Gender Harassment and Sexual Violence,” that made sought restoration of the Ombuds as part of a broader set of demands in January 2019. The current petition is supported by a white paper that details the history of the Dartmouth Ombuds, an explanation of why the current resources are insufficient, a value proposition, and policies and structure for an Ombuds office.

November 02, 2020

WSIB Fair Practices Commission in Ontario Selects Next Commissioner

Tom Barber has been named the Commissioner of the Fair Practices Commission of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board in Ontario, Canada. Barber has worked for WSIB since 2017, and previously served as the Acting Commissioner for about nine months in 2018. He will serve a five-year term leading an office that serves as the Organizational Ombudsman for injured workers, employers, and service providers with complaints. Barber succeeds Anna Martins has served as the Commissioner since 2016. 

Ron Slater: Former Ombuds at University of Pittsburgh

Ronald J. Slater Jr., passed away on October 27, 2020, after a long battle with pancreatitis. He for most of his three-decade career, he served as the Student Ombudsman. As of earlier this year, Slater was the student appeals coordinator. 

A few years ago, a former student, Donald E. Collins, wrote about the help he received from Slater: