September 28, 2023
Linda Brothers has been named the first Staff Ombudsperson for the private research university in Washington, DC. In this new role, she will serve about 1,500 staff and academic & administrative professionals across five campuses and report to the Chief Operating Officer. Brothers joins several other existing Ombuds at Georgetown: Student Ombuds, Daniela Brancaforte, Faculty Ombuds Office, Catherine Langlois, and Ombudsperson for the School of Medicine, Stacey Kaltman (all with separate offices and reporting lines, and all also practicing to IOA standards).
Michael Steinberg has been selected as the next University Ombuds for Oregon State. He follows Sue Theiss, OSU's founding Ombuds, who moved to Seattle University earlier this year. Steinberg joins Associate Ombuds, Robynn M. Pease (who served as the Interim University Ombuds), and Program Coordinator, Jenni Allemann. The OSU Ombuds Office provides services to over 40,000 faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholders.
September 27, 2023
The Austria-based international development organization for children is hiring a Regional Ombuds to be based in Addis Ababa. As part of a team of Ombuds, the position will supervise National Ombuds throughout the East and Southern Africa region and report to the Global Ombuds (currently filled on an interim basis by Judi Fairholm and Andrew Azzopardi). The initial appointment will be for two years.
The Austria-based international development organization for children is hiring a Regional Ombuds to be based in Faridabad. As part of a team of Ombuds, the position will supervise National Ombuds throughout the Asia region and report to the Global Ombuds (currently filled on an interim basis by Judi Fairholm and Andrew Azzopardi). The initial appointment will be for two years.
September 26, 2023
The International Ombuds Association is inviting presentation proposals and speaker suggestions for its 19th Annual Conference, which is set for March 18-20, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Proposals are due by October 23, 2023 and will be considered by the IOA Conference Committee Programming Subcommittee. Proposals will be evaluated in consideration of several criteria (including being "relevant to the conference theme," which has not yet been announced). Presenters will be notified of the committee’s decisions in November 2023. (IOA Call for Presentations.)
As the search for its first full-time Ombudsperson stretches into a tenth month, UT Chattanooga has contracted with UT Knoxville to provide Ombuds services. UTK's Campus Ombudsperson, Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, and Associate Ombudsperson, Brooke Wichmann, will serve as Interim Ombuds for faculty and staff at UTC until the national search is completed.
September 25, 2023
The Ombuds Office at Colorado's flagship university is celebrating a half century of service on Wednesday, September 27th from 4-7 pm MT. For five decades, the University of Colorado Ombuds Office has served as a resource for campus stakeholders to surface, voice, clarify and discuss university-related issues. The 50th celebration will include remarks from the chancellor, provost, and chief operating officer as well as insights from guest speaker Laura Crawshaw, who will discuss "Managing Abrasive Conduct in the Age of the Unruly: The Power of Intervention." Following the program, guests are invited to enjoy music and dinner in the chancellor's hall as well as beautiful views of the iconic flatirons from the balcony.
September 22, 2023
Katharina (née Hülmbauer) Smith has been selected the Corporate Ombudsperson Deputy for Raiffeisen Bankengruppe, the international financial institution and Austria's largest banking cooperative. Her appointment marks the expansion of RBI's Corporate Ombuds-Office established in 2021 by Judith Klaiber. Smith is based in Vienna and provides Ombuds services to RBI Group’s staff. An initial contract of one and a half to two years is expected.
In or about March 2023, the public polytechnic and applied sciences institute in Edmonton abruptly closed its Ombuds Office. Alexia Wright had served in the position for three and a half years and the program had been in existence since 2015. (Wright also served as the Treasurer for ACCUO for at least a year in 2020.) NAIT made the closure without announcement and quickly removed references to the Ombuds from online policy materials. A Reddit post offers a few sinister allegations. (LinkedIn; ACCUO Bulletin; Reddit.)
CO-OP, and Willem Kweens, CO-OP, as Interim Association Ombuds. Their appointments fill a position vacated by Breanne Taylor, who recently stepped down. They will serve until IOA completes a current search. Shaw was IOA's first Ombuds in 2020 and Kweens was an Ombuds for Mars, Inc. in Europe.
September 21, 2023
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Jessica Maguire has been named the Executive Director of Student Affairs and Ombudsperson for the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Pitt. She follows Kellie Beach. In this role, Maguire assists graduate students and postdocs with academic issues and conflict. She joins several other collateral duty Ombuds serving grad students and postdocs across the university:
September 19, 2023
The University of California's law school in San Francisco (formerly known as UC Hastings College of Law) has reopened its search for an inaugural Ombudsperson. After an eight month national search, Lucia Galante Johnson was selected to be the school's first Ombudsperson in June 2023. The new, 37.5% part-time position (previously only 25%) will establish a program to serve all campus constituents and practice to IOA standards.
Erin F. Wright has joined the Ombuds Office at BU. She joins University Ombuds, Francine Montemurro, Associate Ombuds, Riley E. Barrar, and Consulting Ombuds, Howard Gadlin. This is Wright's first Ombuds job, but she brings experience from higher education and ADR program management.
September 18, 2023
Courtney Chicvak, a professional mediator and lecturer at Columbia University School of Professional Studies, has created a large language model chatbot that replicates an initial meeting with an Ombuds. Built on the Simulation Labs platform, the artificial intelligence simulates an employee with workplace concerns. The user plays the Ombuds and converses with "visitor" using a text interface. (Some users report adding speech recognition software to make the experience more lifelike.) The visitor's scenario is unique on each play and the interactions are driven by the Ombuds' questions and comments. At the end of the case, the visitor will offer feedback for the Ombuds. The model is free to use.
September 15, 2023
Spokane Transit Authority, the public transport authority in Eastern Washington state, is hiring its first Ombudsman & Accessibility Officer. According to the posting the position: "is a neutral resolution/dispute practitioner whose major function is to provide confidential, informal, and independent assistance to customers with concerns or questions. The Ombudsman will serve as neutral council by providing recommendations and educating STA’s management team on how policies and practice impact our customers." The job also includes a focus on accessibility issues. STA serves a population of nearly half a million and provides about 7 million rides per year. The new Ombuds will report to the CEO.
The public college of applied arts and technology in Ottawa is hiring an Ombuds Officer. The position reports to the University Ombuds and provide services services to over 21,000 students at three campuses across Ontario. The office is jointly funded by the college and the Algonquin Students' Association. Currently, the office is headed by George Cole and includes Barbara Carswell, Assistant Ombuds. Carley Davidson has held the title of Ombuds Officer since 2017, so this may be a search to fill her position.
The European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education is now two decades old. It has marked several milestones as it emerged as an important resource for college and university Ombuds worldwide. (The association has more than 100 members from four continents.) Now, after the recent elections earlier this month, the network moves forward with a new president and board members.
September 14, 2023
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority and the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit have appointed Alan Foreman as their Ombudsman. HISA and HIWU are nonprofit organizations established in 2022 to ensure integrity and safety in thoroughbred racing. Their reform efforts are modeled on those adopted by the World Anti-Doping Agency and Foreman's role is expected to be similar to WADA's new Ombuds. Foreman will serve almost everyone involved in professional horseracing (HISA's definition of "covered persons" include trainers, owners, breeders, jockeys, veterinarians, and others licensed by state racing commissions), which is over 21,000 people.
Roy Pereira has been named the first Ombuds for Students at the private Jesuit university in Los Angeles, California. He joins Ariane White, who has been the Ombuds for faculty and staff since January. Pereira takes on the Ombuds role in addition to his duties as the Special Assistant to the Senior VP for Student Affairs. He also teaches Neuroscience in the Post-Doctoral Professional Psychology program. His research includes studying the effects of social media on the bran and effects of meditation on health outcomes.
A report in the Daily Northwestern this week exposed the involvement of the University Ombuds in a new campus controversy. Northwestern University has been rocked this year by multiple allegations of hazing and other misconduct in multiple sports programs. Most recently, Northwestern's cheerleaders have complained about safety concerns and a culture of body shaming. The campus newspaper revealed that the University Ombuds, Sarah Klaper, worked on the issue last year:
UofL's University Ombuds, Diane Tobin, reports that she assisted 275 between July 2021 and August 2023. This is a significant increase over the past decade, when the office handled fewer than 100 cases in a typical year. In a report given to the Faculty Senate, Tobin identified ten emergent trends in her cases. She also offered some hope as the university has appointed several new leaders. (UofL Ombuds 2023 Report.)
September 08, 2023
The Austria-based international development organization for children is hiring a National Ombuds to be based in Vienna. As part of a team of Ombuds, the position joins other National and Regional Ombuds and serves constituents from locations in Austria, Estonia, Jordan, and North Macedonia. The position will report to the Global Ombuds (currently filled on an interim basis by Judi Fairholm and Andrew Azzopardi).
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston announced that its Ombuds Office will now provide services to all classified staff and administrative and professional (A&P) personnel. Previously, the University Ombuds, Robin Dickey, served only faculty, medical students, postdoctoral fellows, and trainees. Now, virtually all stakeholders have access to Ombuds services. (UTHealth Houston Blog.)
September 07, 2023
The public research university in Columbia, South Carolina, has opened a search for its first Staff Ombudsperson. The full-time position will serve nearly 15,000 staff and report to the Director of Organizational Development. The job description says that the Staff Ombuds is "neutral and confidential" and services include "informal mediations," but does not reference the IOA standards.
Applicants must have a relevant Bachelor’s degree and at least four years experience in an Ombuds or similar role (i.e. assisting employees with resolving problems or conflict management). Preferred qualifications include knowledge of the policies, processes and systems of SC would be helpful. The position will pay $59,581 to $70,000 per year and applications are due by September 19, 2023. (UofSC Posting.)
At DePaul's 2023 Fall Convocation, the former University Ombuds, Craig Mousin, was honored with the Via Sapientiae Award along with 23 other retired staff and faculty members. The award states, "This is the highest award that DePaul can bestow upon a community member. The award recognizes faculty and staff members with at least ten years of service who have retired from DePaul and made extraordinary contributions to DePaul during their time here." Mousin founded the Ombuds program for faculty and staff at the private
September 06, 2023
Annette (Fraser) O'Hara has been hired to establish the Ombuds program for UCW, a private, for-profit university in Vancouver, BC. She started in May 2023. As the inaugural Ombudsperson, O'Hara reports to the university president and serve the student body of 11,000. She comes to the position after nearly five years as the Ombudsperson for the University of Victoria.
Billy Struemke has been hired as the next Ombuds for the public community college in Rockville, Maryland. He will provide services to 3,000 administrators, faculty, and staff. Struemke follows Allison Monyei Whaley, CO-OP, who moved to a Federal Ombuds position last spring.
MWI has been selected again to provide Conference Ombuds services for WEFTEC, the Water Environment Federation's Technical Exhibition and Conference. MWI's Ombuds panel member, Caitlan Hendrickson, CO-OP, will return as the Ombuds for the Water Environment Federation’s 96th annual Technical Exhibition and Conference set for September 30 – October 4, 2023, in Chicago. She will serve as a resource for all attendees (over 9,000 last year), staff, exhibitors, and anyone else participating in WEFTEC.
September 05, 2023
Debra Marquez has been named the inaugural Executive Director, Office of the Ombuds for CUSM, a newly accredited, private medical school in Colton, California. She moves into the position after serving as the school's HR Director for the past three years. According to CUSM's student handbook, Marquez will serve all members of the medical school, including administrators, staff, faculty, and 520 students. (A website for the office is accessible only on the school's intranet.)
Ian McDonald passed away on August 25, 2023, at the age of 80. McDonald was a long-time Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Toronto. After he retired from the faculty in 2006, he was appointed the Interim Ombudsman and served through 2007. He followed Mary Ward and was succeeded by Joan Foley. (Legacy.com.)
September 04, 2023
Roel Notten has been named the first Student Ombuds for Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e) and Universiteit Utrecht (UU). Under a joint agreement, the two Dutch universities are sharing the cost of the part-time position. Notten will serve 12,000 students at TU/e and over 30,000 at UU and serve an initial three-year term. He joins existing Staff Ombuds at both universities: Annemieke Meijer and Frans Pieter Sprik at UU and Anna Soedira at TU/e.
In the Spring of 2021, Steen Erik Larsen and Benthe Legg were appointed the first Ombuds for A.P. Moller - Maersk, the Danish shipping and logistics company. Together, they provide Ombuds services for over 100,000 employees worldwide. Larsen is based in Copenhagen and Legg in Cape Town. A recent Maersk news item explained: "The Maersk Ombuds Function is an independent, neutral, confidential, and informal service to all employees offering a voluntary safe place for employees to seek guidance, voice concerns or discuss options for any work-related matter. The ombuds function is initially staffed by two experienced and senior Maersk employees."
The International Ombud Expo 2024 hopes to convene over 500 Ombuds Offices and other related organizations from over 100 countries on 29 July to 2 August 2024 in Gaborone. (The first event in 2019 attracted about 250 participants from 38 countries.) The theme for the 2024 conference is "Trusted Institutions: Righting Injustices, Bolstering Quality Governance."
September 01, 2023
Christine W. Yurgelun has been named the next Ombudsperson for the private women's liberal arts college in Northampton, Massachusetts. In this part-time position, she will provide services to the College's faculty and staff. She follows Michael Stephens, who served in the position for five years and recently moved to MWI as a contract Ombuds.
The 6th Annual Ombuds Day is coming up and planning is already underway. On October 12, 2023, the ABA DR Ombuds Day subcommittee is hosting a webinar featuring Thomas Zgambo, the Ombudsman for the International Monetary Fund. Zgambo has served as an Ombuds for 26 years, including stints at Polaroid, Coca Cola, MIT, and the World Bank. He will offer his insights and a conversation about the growth and evolution of the Ombuds profession. The webinar is one of several free events being planned for Ombuds Day 2023.