February 28, 2022

California's Teacher Retirement Plan Adopts IOA Standards

The California State Teachers' Retirement System has updated its website to reflect the adoption of IOA Standards for its Ombuds. CalSTRS is the largest teachers' retirement fund in the U.S. with nearly a million enrolled members and a portfolio of more than $250 billion. The CalSTRS Office of the Ombuds, which created by legislation in 1993, has generally acted as an Executive Ombuds by advocating for CalSTRS members. Now, for the first time, the CalSTRS Ombuds will practice to IOA Standards of independence, impartiality, confidentiality, and informality. 

February 25, 2022

Job Posting: Federal Bureau of Investigation

The FBI is seeking its next Supervisory Ombudsman. The position provides leadership and oversight of the FBI Ombudsman Office personnel as well as mentors and develops staff. The search was prompted by the departure of Monique A. Bookstein, who led the office for 12 years and before accepting the Ombuds position with the Prince William County Public Schools last fall.

Job Re-Posting: University of Oklahoma

The public research university in Norman has re-opened its search for an Ombudsperson "to get more candidates." The full-time position serves OU faculty and has been vacant since the untimely passing of Gloria Miller-White in 2018. The University Ombudsperson reports to the Vice President for Executive Affairs and practices to IOA standards. The requirements for the position have not changed.

February 24, 2022

Experienced Ombuds Moves to UC Merced

Hector Escalante will be the new Ombudsperson and Director for the growing University of California campus in Central California. He leaves the University of the Pacific, where he has served as the inaugural Ombuds for the past seven years, and fills a position vacated by Callale Concon, who moved to the UC Office of the President. He will join Assistant Ombudsperson, Chanelle Reese, to provide services to students, staff, and faculty.

February 23, 2022

Job Posting: Ivy Tech Community College

Indiana's community college system, the nation's second-largest community college with 40 campuses, has opened a search for a Student Ombudsperson. (Ivy Tech had a Student Ombudsman from 2010 to about 2013, but the program was discontinued.) The full-time position reports to the Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Services and Student Success and serves a student population of more than 165,000. It will practice to IOA standards.

Lamar University Selects First Faculty Ombuds

Jim Mann has been named the first Faculty Ombudsperson for the public university in Beaumont, Texas. The new Ombuds is a part-time position that serves about 635 faculty members. Mann has been an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Lamar since 2006. Prior to that he was a community mediator for the Dispute Resolution Center in Jefferson County. As the Chief Psychologist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, he also served as hostage negotiation team leader.

University of Oregon Ombuds Reports Decline in Cases in 2021

In her annual report covering the 2020-21 fiscal year, U of O University Ombudsperson Brett Harris says that her office saw an 18% decline in cases from the prior year. The decline to 306 cases was attributed to reduced staffing and outreach efforts. Notably, the report highlights 168 concerns involving diversity, equity and inclusion issues and 229 concerns relating to COVID-19. The full report is available online. (Oregon Ombuds Reports.)

Duke University Plans to Reconstitute Ombuds Office

Last week, the Academic Council at Duke considered a proposal to unify the current Faculty and Student Ombuds programs and expand the service to staff. The proposal is grounded in IOA standards, Ombuds practices at other universities (especially UNC), and input from past and current Duke Ombuds. The plan envisions two full-time Ombuds, one for primarily for faculty and staff, and the other for students. The unified Ombuds office would not serve the Duke Health System.

February 21, 2022

Job Posting: UC San Francisco

The health sciences campus of the University of California is hiring a part-time Ombuds. The UCSF Ombuds Office is lead by Ellen Goldstein, CO-OP, three other Ombuds and a staff member. This new contract position will work 65% time and is eligible for remote work.

Williams College Hires First Ombuds

Waged Jafer has been appointed to establish the Ombuds program at private liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She arrived on campus last month and introduced herself to faculty last week. In the new part-time role, Jafer reports to the college's president and serves faculty and staff following IOA standards.

February 18, 2022

North American Network Operators' Group Establishes Ombuds Program

The professional association for Internet engineering, architecture, and operations has appointed Tony Farmer as its first Ombuds. Although not explicitly following IOA standards, a webpage for the program explains that he will provide confidential and informal assistance to NANOG members and help identify systemic issues. 

Jim Huegerich: Founding Ombuds for the Town of Chapel Hill

James E. Huegerich, the Senior Ombuds for Chapel Hill, North Carolina, passed earlier this month. He moved to Chapel Hill for graduate school and then helped create and run the city's police department crisis unit. In 2012, he and Faith Thompson became the first full-time Ombuds for Chapel Hill. (This remains one of the few IOA-compliant municipal Ombuds programs in existence.) He served in the role until his passing. (Hall-Wynne Obituary.)

February 17, 2022

Meet the New Associate Ombuds at Florida Gulf Coast University

In June 2020, Charlotte (Fontes) Bingham became the first Assistant Ombuds at the public university in Fort Myers. She joins University Ombuds Monique McKay and serves as a resource for all FGCU stakeholders, a population of nearly 20,000.

February 16, 2022

Ombuds Institute Debuts First Professional Training

The Ombuds Institute, established earlier this year by Teresa Ralicki, CO-OP, just announced its first course: The Ombuds Field Guide. She explains that this is the first asynchronous, online course of its kind to be offered specifically for aspiring and practicing Ombuds. The course includes six modules (Setting the Stage; Getting the Ball Rolling; Conflict Analysis; Moving with Momentum; Considerations and Closing; and Self Reflection and Your Practice) and costs $1,495. Early registrants also get three interactive session, videos of visitors meeting with an Ombuds, and guided meditations for Ombuds.

February 15, 2022

Job Posting: U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Department of Agriculture agency is hiring a Conflict Management Specialist Ombuds. The new position is located in the Office of the Chief, Office of Work Environment and Performance Office, but a work site within 50 miles of a Forest Service will be negotiated with the candidate. Some travel is required although the position is also eligible for telework.

February 14, 2022

University of Houston Creates Ombuds Program for Grad Students

Funda Sahin has been appointed the first Ombuds for Graduate and Professional Students at the public research university in Texas. This is the first Ombuds service for any of the 47,000 students at UH, which has had an Ombuds (currently Richard Bond) for staff and faculty since 2006. Although she is a resource for students with workplace and academic issues, the university will preclude her from handling "allegations of unlawful discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct" (which is at least consistent with the Staff and Faculty Ombuds. 

February 11, 2022

Job Posting: University of Cape Town

South Africa's flagship public research university will hire its next permanent Ombud. The search will fill a position established by Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa, CO-OP, and currently held on an interim basis by Ihron Rensburg. (A history of the office is documented elsewhere on the blog.) The full-time position serves all members of the campus and will be appointed for an initial five-year term, with the possibility of renewal for a second term. The office practices to IOA standards.

Job Posting: Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento

KP is hiring a full-time HealthCare Ombuds/Mediator for its medical facilities in California's state capital. The Kaiser HCOM, "functions as a trained alternative dispute professional offering patients, family members, staff & providers a conflict management program to resolve patient/provider healthcare disputes early thereby improving patient safety & reducing the costs of health care dispute resolution."

University of Peace Introduces Ombuds

Nearly four years after it started a search, Laura Navarrete has been named the first Ombudsperson for United Nations affiliated university in Costa Rica. In addition to informally resolving conflicts, the UPeace Ombuds also manages the formal complaint process, duties that are not in line with most university Ombuds or other UN Ombuds programs.

Job Posting: Life Chiropractic College West

The private chiropractic school in Hayward, California is hiring its first Ombuds (unfortunately and unsearchably listed as "Omsbuds"). The part-time position (six to ten hours weekly) reports to the president and serves only employees of the college. The work generally conforms to best practices, with two significant exceptions:

Job Posting: Nightingale College

The private, for-profit nursing college in Salt Lake City, Utah is hiring its first Ombudsman. The new position is a mix of Organizational Ombuds duties (confidentiality, aggregate data reporting, mediating, impartial review, and independent judgment) and compliance/complaint management (reviewing grievances, detailed record keeping, and investigating). It is a full-time remote position that starts March 14, 2022. 

February 10, 2022

IOA Updates its Branding

Following its name change to the gender-neutral "International Ombuds Association," IOA has released a new branding scheme, including a new logo and color palette. In its announcement, IOA explained, "This logo leverages a stylized aperture that speaks to the constructive problem-solving nature of the profession. It represents an IOA that creates and sustains collaborative, empowering relationships by means of examination and focus on the things seen and unseen. The inward spiral elements hint at collaboration and a culture of engagement that drives progress from the core of the organization."

February 09, 2022

Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague Confirms First Ombuds

Faculty at Filmová a televizní fakulta Akademie múzických umění v Praze have elected Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková as the school's first Ombudsperson. FAMU is one of three branches of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and is the fifth oldest film school in the world. Laurenčíková established the Ombuds position last year and was serving in an interim basis before her confirmation by the faculty. The FAMU Ombuds serves all members of the school community and practices according to a charter with explicit standards for independence, neutrality & impartiality, confidentiality, and informality.

February 08, 2022

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Opens Internal Search

The federal agency that issues patents and registers trademarks has opened an internal search for an Senior Associate Ombudsman in Alexandria, Virginia. Reporting to Paul Sotoudeh, the USPTO Chief Ombudsman, the position is currently 100% remote and is eligible for telework in the future. Only current USPTO employees may apply.

Trinity College Brings in an Interim Ombuds

Kathryn Bender has been named the interim Staff Ombudsperson for the private liberal arts college in Hartford, Connecticut. She takes over the role from Kristin Bierly Magendantz and Carrie Robinson, who served as collateral Ombuds and continue at Trinity, and joins the Faculty Ombud, Shane Ewegen. Bender also serves as the Ombudsperson at Wellesley College and previously provided training for Trinity’s Ombuds .

February 07, 2022

University of São Paulo Appoints Next Ombuds

Marilia Seelaender has been named the Ouvidoria for the Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil's largest university. As the Ombuds, Seelander practices to IOA standards and serves "members of the USP community and citizens in general who do not consider themselves satisfactorily served by the usual channels [with] suggestions, complaints and denouncements regarding the activities and University functions." USP has had an Ombuds office since 2018 and Seelander follows Maria das Graças Bomfim de Carvalho.

February 04, 2022

Germanna Community College Names First Ombuds

Keyanna Hawkins has been appointed the first Student Ombudsperson for the community college in Virginia. GCC has 10,000 students and five campuses between Richmond, VA and Washington, DC. Despite Hawkins title, a webpage for her office explains that she "responds to concerns and complaints from faculty, staff, and students." The GCC Ombuds is located within the Equity Advancement Office. 

Society for American Archaeology Names Ombuds for 2022

The professional association for the archaeology of the Americas has selected David Rasch, CO-OP, and Kathleen Canul, as its Annual Meeting Ombuds. Together, they will provide services to participants at SAA's 87th annual meeting on March 30 - April 3, 2022 in Chicago. Rasch, who is also the Associate Ombuds at UC Santa Barbara, was an Ombuds for SAA last year. Canul is the Campus Ombuds for UCLA and has served in the role for several other professional associations. (SAA Ombuds.)

Ombuds at University of Nevada Las Vegas Releases First Annual Report

David G. Schwartz became the Employee Ombuds for UNLV in June 2021 and set about restoring a program that had been closed for two years. This week, he posted an update on is progress. In addition to creating a physical office, hiring support staff, writing a charter, and conducting outreach, he also had 219 contacts with faculty, staff, and student employees. (UNLV Ombuds Blog.)

SHRM Article Touts Effectiveness of Ombuds

An article posted to the Society for Human Resource Management website this week explains that, "Alternative complaint systems can be an effective way for organizations to address and resolve harassment and discrimination disputes without resorting to formal legal channels." The article includes quotes from Elizabeth Schwartz Hill, Associate Director of the Ombuds Office at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Donna Douglass Williams, the new Ombudsperson at Pinterest. (SHRM Employee Relations.)

February 02, 2022

Job Posting: Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

CGIAR, the international partnership that coordinates organizations engaged in research about food security, is hiring its first Ombudsperson. The external consultant will be hired for a six-month trial, which may be extended. 

Job Posting: UN Funds and Programmes, Senegal

The United Nations' global development network (which comprises UNDP / UNFPA / UNICEF/ UNOPS / UN Women) has opened a search for an Ombudsman in Dakar. The position reports to the Deputy Ombudsman for UN Funds and Programmes, Kentaro Kanyomozi. Frequent travel to UNDP field offices throughout Africa is required.

Texas A&M Transportation Institute Creates Ombuds Program

The state transportation research agency and member of the Texas A&M University System has appointed its first two Ombuds: Becky Carranza and Chris Slape. Together they will serve about 700 TTI employees and students following IOA standards. They take on Ombuds duties in addition to their on-going work at the agency. Carranza is the Director of Risk and Compliance and Slape is an Ethics and Compliance Officer. (YouTube.)

February 01, 2022

Job Posting: World Anti-Doping Agency

The international foundation that coordinates the fight against drugs in sports is hiring its first Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds. The part-time, contract position will be based in Europe, report to WADA's Executive and Athlete Committees, and serve athletes world-wide. The new Ombuds "will be a neutral, impartial dispute resolution practice whose major function will be to provide confidential and informal assistance to Athletes bound by anti-doping rules under the World Anti-Doping Code." The position was created as part of a range of governance reforms implemented last year.