August 31, 2021

Atlanta Public Schools Relaunches Ombuds Program

Deirdre Smith and Quinton Stroud have been selected to reestablish the Organizational Ombuds Office for the public school system in Georgia. Smith is the Organizational Ombuds and Stroud is the Equity Policy Analyst. Together they serve as a resource for 55,000 students and their families, and also employees and community stakeholders. The Atlanta Public Schools previously had an Ombuds program from 2014 through 2017. (APS Ombuds.)

Consultants Recommend Ombuds for School District 57

A Special Advisors Report for the public school district in central British Columbia, including urban Prince George, recommends creating an Ombuds program. The review was commissioned by BC’s Minister of Education, Jennifer Whiteside, in response to concerns about funding and graduation rates for Indigenous students in the district. The report found a wide range of concerns, including "No real mechanism for resolving disputes or addressing discrimination and systemic racism" and "a need to ensure that all District employees work in an open and free manner without fear of retribution." 

August 30, 2021

New Book Examines Work of Dutch University Ombuds

This week, VU University Press releases Ombudswerk in het hoger onderwijs: een praktische wegwijzer (Ombudswork in Higher Education: a Practical Guide) by Lies Poesiat, the Ombudsman for students and staff at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

The book looks at all aspects of Ombuds work:

Norfolk State University Announces New Ombuds

Ernestine A.W. Duncan has been named the Interim Faculty Ombuds at the HBCU in Virginia. She follows Erick S. Cage, who served as Ombuds since 2018. As the Faculty Ombuds, Duncan will serve as a resource for faculty, staff, and other members of the NSU community. 

August 27, 2021

Utrecht University Selects Two Staff Ombuds

Universiteit Utrecht, the public research university in the Netherlands, will redesignate its two current Confidential Advisors for Staff as Ombudspersons for Staff. The move bring UU into line with a new labor agreement that requires Staff Ombuds at major Dutch universities. Annemieke Meijer and Frans Pieter Sprik, who have been the Confidential Advisors for Staff for less than a year each, will move into the roles immediately. 

New Ombuds Will Restart Office at Wright State University

Greg Scharer, WSU's current Executive Director of Alumni Relations, has been selected the new Ombudsperson for the public research university near Dayton. He will restart a program that has been paused since the retirement of the founding Ombuds, Hazel Rountree, three years ago. As the Ombuds, Scharer will serve over 20,0000 faculty, staff, and students following IOA standards. He will continue to oversee the university's alumni relations program.

Registration Opens for Ombuds Day 2021

Ombuds Day 2021 registration is open! This year’s theme is “Ombuds: exploring options to resolve conflict together.” On October 14th, join ombuds and leaders from the tech, immigration, K-12 education, and long-term care sectors to understand how ombuds help stakeholders resolve problems. 

August 26, 2021

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Names Ombuds Team

Fulfilling a promise made to students last summer, Pitt Medicine has introduced a panel of six faculty who will serve as Ombuds. A website for the new program explained that, "Students may contact the Ombuds Office to discuss difficulties that have been unresolved elsewhere (such as the Offices of Learning Environment, Student Affairs, Medical Education, or Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) or directly if for any reason they are fearful, embarrassed, or unwilling to contact those offices." The office appears to generally follow IOA standards and will serve as a resource for about 1,000 students.

New Ombuds at Northern Arizona University Posts Annual Report

Monica Brown stepped in as the NAU Faculty Ombuds in September 2020 after Bruce Fox completed his three-year term. According to an annual report Brown just released, she recorded 75 visits during the 2020-21 academic year, representing 50 unique visitors. This represents a 61.3% increase in unique visitors from the prior academic year and the highest utilization rate in four years.

Lehigh University Welcomes Two New Ombuds

Jennifer Swann has joined Anne Meltzer in the Ombuds Office at Lehigh. Together, they will serve about 9,000 faculty, staff, and students at the private research university in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

August 25, 2021

Job Posting: University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The public research university in central North Carolina has issued a request for proposals for an individual or company to serve as its Ombudsman. The search marks the culmination of years of advocacy by faculty and other stakeholders at UNCG for an Ombuds program. The initial contract will be for one year and may be extended. The UNCG Ombuds will report to the Office of the Provost and provide services to nearly 25,000 faculty, staff, and students. The contract will be awarded October 11, 2021. 

Job Posting: Daemen College

The private liberal arts college in Amherst, New York is hiring its next part-time Faculty Ombudsperson. The search will fill a position established by William C. Barba in 2018. The independently contracted position will serve an initial one-year term, with a possible three-year renewal. The Ombuds will report to Daemen's Vice President for Academic Affairs and practice to IOA standards. 

August 24, 2021

Job Posting: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command

The major Army command that operates 37 schools and centers for over half a million U.S. soldiers and other personnel is hiring its first Ombudsman. The position is located in the Chief of Staff's Office in Monterey, California. Travel is required and telework is also an option. 

University of Cape Town Vindicates Former Ombuds

Six months after being ousted from her job as UCT's founding Ombud, Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa, CO-OP, has been entirely exonerated of the spurious complaints against her. In July 2020, Makamandela-Mguqulwa's annual report publicly revealed widespread complaints of bullying by the University's Vice Chancellor. The matter quickly escalated when the VC initiated disciplinary charges and threatened litigation. The conflict drew significant press coverage in the legislative capital of South Africa and the university ultimately let Makamandela-Mguqulwa's contract expire. Now, the University of Cape Town has dropped its investigation and paid Makamandela-Mguqulwa her performance bonus. Moreover, UCT has adopted an inti-bullying policy.

Job Posting: Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA's Alternative Dispute Resolution Division (in the Office of the Chief Counsel) is hiring for two positions: Full-Time Deployable Field ADR Advisor and Intermittent On-Call Reservist ADR Advisor. Both are assigned to the Washington, DC office. but deployment to disaster locations is routine. Some telework may be permitted.

Job Posting: Guilford County Schools

The public school district in North Carolina with 72,000 students and 10,000 employees is hiring an Ombudsman. The position reports the Chief of Schools and serves as a key conduit between the community, parents and students and the district office and school teams. 

August 23, 2021

Job Posting: United Nations, New York

The Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services is seeking consultant to undertake a four-month "assessment of the organizational health of the program, starting with the group comprising the senior staff."  The work also will include facilitating a tailored two-day meeting among the senior group and providing a documented roadmap with specific activities and milestones for transforming the team’s health.

University of Michigan-Dearborn Names First Ombuds for Staff

On September 1, 2021, Jacqueline Bowman will become the first Ombuds for non-represented staff at UM-Dearborn. She will supplement existing Ombuds programs for faculty and students. Bowman meanwhile will continue as the Ombuds for staff at UM's flagship campus in Ann Arbor and will assisted by Donna Hooper, who previously helped create the Staff Ombuds program at UM Medicine. 

(Guest Post) Mary Rowe's Further Comments on the Proposed IOA Bylaws

The following commentary was submitted by Mary Rowe, IOA Distinguished Emeritus and former Ombuds at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was a founder of the Corporate Ombudsman Association, the first professional group for Organizational Ombuds, Adjunct Professor of Negotiation and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and thought-leader in the Ombuds profession.

August 16, 2021

Franklin University Switzerland Appoints First Ombuds

Earlier this year, Olivia Della Croce, was named the first Ombudsperson for the private, independent liberal arts university in Lugano. In addition to teaching Italian as an adjunct lecturer, Della Croce provides Ombuds services to about 50 FUS employees. A recent news release explained, "As Ombudsperson, Della Croce supports Franklin Staff and Faculty in cases of conflict or disagreement between colleagues, either organizing single sessions or a mediation discussion between the parties."

A Case Study from Turkey's Only University Ombuds

Gizem Güray, the first Student Ombudsman at Altinbas University (Altınbaş Üniversitesi) in Istanbul, has published a study of her work. The article "Student Ombudsman in Turkey: A Case Study" (Türki̇ye’de Öğrenci̇ Ombudsmanliği: Bi̇r Örnek Olay İncelemesi̇") appears in the June 2021 edition of the journal Academic Ombudsman (Ombudsman Akademik). 

Here's the abstract:

August 12, 2021

ENOHE and ACCUO Open Registration for 2021 Virtual Conference

Details are now available for the joint conference of the European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education the Association of Canadian College and University Ombuds. "Looking Forward: The Role of the Ombuds in the Post-Covid Recovery" will take place online September 21 and 22. Here is the program:

August 10, 2021

Northern Virginia Community College Creates Ombuds Office

Earlier this year, Tanneh Kamara was named the first Ombuds for the public community college, the third largest multi-campus community college in the U.S. and the largest educational institution in Virginia. Kamara serves a student body of 75,000 across six campuses and four centers. She moves into the role after serving as the Director of Student Success for the past five years. She has also taught business and management courses at NOVA as an adjunct faculty. 

August 09, 2021

Linguistic Society of America Creates an Ombuds Program

The professional society for the linguistics field has established an Ombuds program for its members. LSA has designated 30 people to serve on its Ombuds Committee. Most are faculty members at universities with Ombuds programs, although none appear to have ever worked as an Ombuds before. According to an announcement, the committee members "have received training materials that will help them prepare for their roles." The Ombuds Committee will be guided by IOA standards (although not explicitly).

MWI Roundtable to Spotlight Ombuds

On October 20, 2021, Chuck Doran will host a Mediator Roundtable for MWI, the dispute resolution firm based in Boston. Doran, who is currently serving as an Ombuds for Iowa State University, will present on, " The Role of the Organizational Ombuds." The Zoom event is free for MWI members and $50 for non-members. 

August 06, 2021

Job Posting: Nazarbayev University

The autonomous research university in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan, is hiring its first Ombudsperson. The full-time position will serve all members of the NU community, including 5,500 students, following IOA standards. (Nazarbayev University was established in 2010 and its international faculty and staff provide instruction in English.) 

August 05, 2021

Job Posting: Baylor College of Medicine

The private health sciences university in Houston, Texas will expand its Ombuds office with the hiring of an Associate Ombudsman. The full-time position will report to Melanie Jagneuax and serve all members of the BCM community, including 5,500 faculty members and 1,600 students. 

August 04, 2021

IOA Resumes In-Person Foundations Course in October 2021

The International Ombudsman Association's signature, in-person training course will be offered in Indianapolis on October 25 through 27, 2021. IOA's "Foundations," which provides the primary training for new Organizational Ombuds, has been available only virtually since October 2020. Due to the expected high demand for this course, registration will be limited to people currently practicing as Ombuds or will begin practicing within the next three months. 

August 03, 2021

Job Posting: Montgomery County Public Schools

The Montgomery County Board of Education in the Washington, DC suburb is hiring its next Ombudsperson. This full-time position reports to the school board of Maryland's largest school district and serves parents, community members, 28,000 employees, and 160,000 students. the MCPS Ombuds "is considered an independent or neutral party who seeks to resolve school-related problems as quickly and efficiently as possible, especially for those for which a formal resolution process does not exist." 

COFO Seeks Presenters for 2021 Conference

The Coalition of Federal Ombudsman will hold its 2021 Annual Conference virtually on October 15, 2021 (the day after Ombuds Day), and its Conference Committee is now accepting presentation proposals. COFO's annual conference is focused on the needs of Ombuds practitioners serving in the federal government, but the day is always an Ombuds-wide family affair and open to anyone either practicing as an Ombuds or interested in ombuds to join us as an attendee or presenter.

August 02, 2021

IOA Board Sets Feedback Sessions on Bylaws Revisions

In an email to members on Friday, the International Ombudsman Association's Board of Directors announced two Member Dialogues focused on the proposed amendments to the IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation. The email signals that the board sees member engagement as critical for its efforts to update the bylaws. IOA members are invited to register for one of the two meetings on August 12 at 8:00-9:30 am PDT or 4:00-5:30 PDT. After these meetings, the board will consider the members' input and present another proposal at a special member meeting in September 2021.