April 19, 2024

U.S. Department of Education Acknowledges Confidentiality of Ombuds

The Education Department has issued updates to Title IX, the 1972 law that bars gender discrimination in federally-funded schools and, for the first time, clearly stated that Ombuds are a confidential resource for students. The inclusion of this language is a victory for the International Ombuds Association, which has advocated strongly for modifications to Title IX’s definition of confidential employees in order to better protect students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders.

April 18, 2024

CERN Welcomes New Ombuds

Marie-Luce Falipou has been named the new Ombuds for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire) in Switzerland. She is CERN's fifth Ombuds since the office was founded in 2010 and follows Laure Esteveny, who is retiring.

IOA Announces 2024 Honorees

At its annual conference last month, the
International Ombuds Association announced its 2024 Trailblazer and President’s Award recipients. “There are so many talented ombuds serving their communities in so many vital ways,” said Alicia Booker, 2023 IOA President. “We are thrilled to honor them for all that they contribute to our profession, and for their extraordinary leadership,” added Sarah Klaper 2024 IOA President.

April 17, 2024

NASA Retains Two Ombuds Consultants

Brian Bloch and Elaine Shaw, CO-OP, have been selected to provide consulting services for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Ombuds program. Together, they will provide training, develop materials and reports, manage a case management system, creating/analyze surveys, and provide policy and procedure support to 25-30 mostly collateral duty Ombuds. Their work comes through a contract between NASA and the McCammon Group, an ADR service provider that has recently added a panel of Ombuds, based in Richmond, Virginia. (McCammon PR.)

April 16, 2024

Job Posting: Clemson University

The public research university in Upstate South Carolina will expand its Ombuds office with the addition of an Associate Ombuds. The new, full-time position will report to the University Ombuds, Tessa Byer, CO-OP, and assisting in providing dispute resolution to faculty, staff, and students. (Gordon Halfacre is also a member of the office as the University Ombuds for Faculty and Students, and has a separate reporting line to the provost.)

Pan American Health Organization Selects Ombuds

In January 2024, Fernando Navarro Sánchez was appointed the World Health Organization's Regional Ombudsman for PAHO. He follows Bernardin Ndashimye and will serve an initial, renewable two-year term. As the Ombuds, Sanchez reports to PAHO's Deputy Director in Washington, DC, and provides services to employees in 27 country office following IOA standards.

Job Posting: Pennsylvania State University

Penn State has opened a search for an Assistant/Associate Dean for Graduate Student Academic Affairs and Professional Development. In addition to overseeing graduate student affairs, the position will also serve as "the university-wide ombudsperson, ensuring impartial and confidential resolution of student concerns." This broad description makes in unclear whether the position will replace the the Acting University Faculty Ombudsperson (Lisa Gatzke-Kopp, who was named in January) or the Graduate Student Ombuds (three faculty have served as collateral duty Ombuds for grad students since 2021: K.H. Fong, Deb Kerstetter, and Patrick Lee Plaisance). For the last two years, Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences has designated eight faculty as Ombuds for its graduate students and postdocs.

April 15, 2024

Carle Illinois College of Medicine Appoints First Ombuds

Ron Brewer has been introduced as the inaugural Ombudsperson for the "engineering-based" medical school of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He will serve over 200 students in the growing medical school. Brewer adds Ombuds duties to his continuing work as a Clinical Associate Professor of Biomedical and Translational Sciences. Brewer's office is only the second at UIUC; the Grainger College of Engineering has had an Ombuds since 2021.(Carle SOM Ombuds.)

ETH Zürich Adds Two Ombuds

According to an updated webpage, Jonas Nakonz and Annette Spiro have joined the Ombuds program at the public research university in Switzerland. The join Kathrin Teuscher and Margrit Leuthold, and fill positions vacated recently by Martin Hohmann (an External Ombuds), Gerhard Tröster, and Peter M. Frischknecht. Together, they serve over 30,000 faculty, staff, and students, and practice to IOA standards. (ETH Ombuds.)

Meet the Ombuds for One Acre Fund

Abah Etieno was appointed the inaugural Global Ombudsperson/Mediator for the Kenya-based nonprofit organization in February 2022. In this role, Etieno serves an international staff of more than 8,00, who support agricultural development programs in six Sub-Saharan African countries. She also serves on the DEI Council.

April 11, 2024

Job Posting (RFP): UN Funds and Programmes

The United Nations is seeking bids for a consultant to provide a review of Office of the Ombudsman for UN Funds and Programmes. The office is one of three components of the integrated Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services. It is a small office funded based on a cost-share agreement among the five participating UN organizations and currently has some staff presence in New York, Istanbul, Bangkok, and Dakar.

April 10, 2024

Job Posting: Zurich University of Applied Sciences

Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften in Winterthur, Switzerland, has opened a search for its first Ombudsperson. The part-time, contract position will establish a program to serve all of ZHAW's 3,700 employees. The Ombuds is expected to assist with workplace conflicts, including discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying, by offering individual advice to mediation. In addition, the Ombuds will make recommendations and prepare an annual written report. 

University of the Andes Selects Next Ombuds

The Rector at Universidad de los Andes, the private university Bogotá, Colombia, has announced the appointment of María Rengifo Fonnegra as the new Ombudsperson. She will serve for the next two years and follows Margarita Gómez Ordoñez, who served established the office in 2012. As the University Ombuds, Fonnegra will provide services to all members of the university community with academic, administrative or disciplinary concerns.

Longtime Grinnell College Ombuds to Retire

After nine years as Grinnell's inaugural Ombuds, Chinyere Ukabiala, CO-OP, will retire on June 20, 2024. College President Anne F. Harris said, “Chinyere’s legacy extends beyond her individual achievements to the lasting impact she has had on our campus culture. Her commitment to constructive problem-solving, effective communication, and conflict resolution has left an indelible mark on all those she has served.”

April 09, 2024

Job Posting (RFP): European Space Agency

The intergovernmental organization dedicated to space exploration and based in Paris is seeking proposals for its first Ethics Ombudsperson. The new Ombuds will "operate in an advisory capacity and be an independent contact point for individuals working at ESA, ... provide recommendations on addressing the allegations, under the applicable legal framework, to the individuals, the Director General (DG) and/or the relevant ESA Services, [and] provide an additional channel for solving issues, without formal decision-making powers." Services will be provided remotely from an ESA member state with some travel to ESA facilities. 

Journal of IOA Article Examines Circle Processes in Ombuds Work

Natalie C. Fleury
is the author of the latest article in the Journal of the International Ombuds Association: "The Center Will Hold: An Overview of Circle Processes and Their Potential Use in Academic Medicine and Other Organizations." Fleury's article draws on her decade of experience as an Ombuds at the Medical College of Wisconsin to offer guidance to other practitioners.

Call for Proposals: Cal Caucus 2024

The California Caucus of College and University Ombuds is seeking speaker proposals for its annual in-person meeting. The unique and intimate caucus is set for November 10-13, 2024, at the rustic and historic Asilomar Conference Grounds. This year's theme is "Piloting Stormy Seas to Safe Harbors." The deadline for proposals is May 3, 2024.

Associate Ombuds at UC Santa Barbara to Retire

Don Lubach, who has been an Associate Ombuds with the Office of the Ombuds at the University of California Santa Barbara, has announced his retirement. The Ombuds position capped a two-decade career at UCSB. Lubach had been the Associate Dean of Students and Director of First-Year and Graduate Student Initiatives before joining the Ombuds Office. He was fond of telling people that his jobs included campus tour guide, editorial writer, plate washer, and career counselor. UCSB Ombuds Director, Caroline Adams shared the news on LinkedIn. (LinkedIn.)

April 05, 2024

IOA Board Selects Officers for 2024 Term

The Board of Directors for the International Ombuds Association has announced the election of its officers for the 2024 term. All are long-time volunteers and professional Ombuds. The IOA Board meets at least monthly, with more meetings for the executive leadership.

April 04, 2024

VU Amsterdam Appoints Staff Ombuds

Jacqueline Schoone, has been named the new Staff Ombudsperson for Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She is expected to serve in the position from April 15, 2024, to July 1, 2025. She joins Pelin Zenginoglu, who has been the Student Ombudsman since October 2022. Schoone is an experienced Ombuds and has held the position at other Dutch Universities, most recently Wageningen University & Research and also the University of Amsterdam. ;

Austin Peay State University Begins Work on Faculty Ombuds Position

Faculty at APSU, the public university in Clarksville, are looking at creating an Ombuds program. A presentation at the latest faculty senate meeting included information from regional peer institutions with Ombuds programs (University of Memphis, University of Tennessee Knoxville, East Tennessee State University, and Baylor University). Professors Margaret Rennerfeldt and Mickey Wadia made the presentation. So far, the APSU faculty senate has not considered a motion regarding an Ombuds. (APSU Faculty Senate.)

April 03, 2024

Job Posting: Illinois State University

The large public university in Central Illinois has reopened its search for a a full-time Ombudsperson. It appears that this will be a new position for ISU, which has had a Ombudsperson Council comprised of three collateral duty Ombuds since about 2010. It is not clear whether the new Ombuds will replace or supplement the Council's work. The new Ombuds will serve nearly 30,000 faculty, staff, and students on the urban campus and is expected to start July 1, 2024.

Meet the First Ombuds at East Tennessee State University

ETSU, the public research university in northeast Tennessee, created an Ombuds program for its Faculty in 2023. Allan Forsman became the first Ombuds in March 2023 and was joined by Amber E. Kinser in the fall semester. Together, they provide services to nearly 1,000 academic staff following IOA standards.

University of Texas Arlington Rolls Out Faculty Ombuds Program

Jacqueline Ann Fay has been serving over 2,000 colleagues at UT Arlington since her appointment as the first Faculty Ombudsperson in September 2023. In the new role, Fay reports to the Provost and generally practices to IOA standards. This is not the first Ombuds program on the campus; UTA's College of Engineering created an Student Ombuds Team in 2021. 

April 02, 2024

Job Posting: Kaiser Permanente, Northern California

KP is hiring a full-time HealthCare Ombuds/Mediator for its medical facilities in Roseville, California. 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." Local travel is required.

Institute for Family Health Names First Ombuds

The non-profit community health organization in New York State, has appointed Theresa Goldsborough as its first Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Ombudsperson. In this new role, Goldsborough will "serve as a resource to the Institute’s staff to advance anti-racist practices in the organization, address questions and concerns related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB), and mediate disputes involving discrimination issues from an independent viewpoint." She will work closely with the Institute’s DEIB Committee and report regularly to the Anti-Racism Strategic Planning Group. The Institute's announcement and website offer no details regarding the standards for Goldsborough work as the Ombuds. 

West Virginia University Opens Internal Search for Faculty Ombuds

WVU, the land-grant public university in Morgantown, has opened a search for its next Faculty Ombudsperson. The internal search will fill a part-time position held by Christine Schimmel since July 2022. The Faculty Ombuds reports to the university provost and practices to IOA standards. The position is open only to full-time, permanent members of the faculty. (Higher Ed Jobs.)

Meet the Ombuds at University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine

Over the past two years, Joan R. Rentsch and Melody Cunningham have established an Ombuds program for Tennessee's flagship research university. Rentsch provides services to the Gradaute School of Medicine, which includes faculty, fellows, and residents affiliated with the medical and dental school. Cunningham serves as the Ombuds for the school of medicine students. (UTMCK GSM Ombuds.)

April 01, 2024

Partners in the Outdoors Conference Seeks Reset with First Ombuds

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has hired an Ombuds as part of reform efforts for its Partners in the Outdoors Conference. The annual event, which is intended to engage conservationists and recreational users of the state's natural resources, was derailed by allegations of racism in 2022 and then canceled in 2023. Conference organizers have contracted with MWI to provide Conference Ombuds services in Breckenridge on April 15-17, 2024. Jai Calloway will serve as the Ombuds for over 400 attendees and others, including staff, presenters, and exhibitors.

At Radboud University 'Sidelined' Staff Ombuds Exits, as Student Ombuds Arrives

Nancy Viellevoye, who was appointed the first Staff Ombudsperson for Radboud Universiteit in 2021, has resigned her position. In an interview with the independent campus newspaper, Viellevoye said that she was constantly sidelined in favor of external consultants. She also was understaffed for the number of cases she was expected to handle. The vice-chair of Radboud University’s Works Council observed "It is not a good look for the university if the person who’s put their heart and soul into their job leaves after two and a half years." (Radboud Vox.)

Ombuds to Tackle Bullying at State Department

The Ombuds for the U.S. Department of State, Jeanne Juliao, has received funding to expand her office to address bullying for the first time. When the Office of the Ombuds was established in 2014, it was intended to include a Workplace Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center (wCPRc). But the wCPRc has never been funded until this year.

March 29, 2024

Prairie View A&M University Names Inaugural Ombuds

In October 2023, Aundrea Cudjoe-Jackson was selected to serve as the first Ombudsperson for PVAMU. In this new position, Cudjoe-Jackson reports directly to the President & CEO and provides services to about 540 faculty members at the largest HBCU in Texas. 

Meet the Ombuds for Con Edison

In January 2023, Ed Conway became the Corporate Ombudsman for Consolidated Edison, Inc., the large energy company based in New Yorck City. He reports to Con Ed's CEA and provides Organizational Ombuds services 15,000 employees. Conway is a long-time employee and started as a mechanical engineer in 1989. Most recently, he was the Director of Learning for the past five years. 

ENOHE Opens Registration for 2024 Conference in Portugal

The European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education has announced details for its 19th annual conference. The event will be hosted by University Beira Interior in Covilhã, Portugal. The theme is "From Plato's Academy to Portugal: Democracy, Diversity, and the Role of the Ombudsperson in Higher Education." The conference will be preceded by a Training Activity Programme for up to 20 participants.

March 28, 2024

Dane County Selects First Ombuds

Diana Pastrana has been appointed the first Employee Ombuds for the county government in Wisconsin. (Dane County is home to the state capital of Madison and the University of Wisconsin.) As an independent contractor, Pastrana will serve as a resource for about county 3,000 employees. 

Meet the Ombuds Team at McKinsey & Co

The global management company has three Firm Ombuds who have been appointed in the past two years: Kathrin Braunsteiner, based in Germany, in October 2023; Gretchen Scheidler, based in Chicago, in April 2022; and Caz Williamson, based in London, in October 2023. All three moved from other roles at McKinsey. 

March 27, 2024

Ombuds to Return for American Planning Association Conferences

The American Planning Association has renewed its contract with MWI for conference Ombuds services for two APA events in April and May 2024. Nnena Odim will return for a second year to provide in-person conference ombuds services at the APA’s National Planning Conference in Minneapolis, April 13-16, 2024, and remotely from May 8-10. Odim served as the conference Ombuds services for the Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation and the American Economic Association. According to the contract with MWI, Odim will practice to IOA standards. (NPC24 Ombuds.)

University of Massachusetts Boston Adopts Ombuds Charter

UMass Boston has adopted a charter for its Office of Ombuds Services, which was established by Martha Nelson Patrick, CO-OP , in June 2023. The charter assures that the office will practice entirely to IOA standards, including complete confidentiality and access to outside counsel. (UMB OO Charter.)

Meet the Newest Ombuds at the World Bank

Jules Baughns was added to the World Bank Office of Ombuds Services on May 1, 2023, and is based in Nairobi, Kenya. He joins three other Ombuds: Caroline Nekesa Wanyonyi in Bangkok, Thailand; Doris Cecilia Campos-Infantino in Washington, DC; and Axel R. Peuker in Washington, DC. 

March 26, 2024

Job Posting: Toronto Metropolitan University

The public university formerly known as Ryerson University, is seeking an Assistant Ombudsperson for a full-time, six month contract. (In April 2022, TMU became the first college or university in Northern America to change its name to address its colonial history.) The search will fill a position temporarily vacated by Ombudsperson Maureen Helt and will report to Acting Ombudsperson Gemma Kerr

Job Posting: SOS Children's Villages, Zimbabwe

As the Austria-based international development organization continues to build out its Ombuds program, it is seeking a National Ombuds to be based in Harare. As part of a global team of Ombuds, the position will report to a (yet to be named) Regional Ombuds. The initial appointment will be for one year.

Meet the First Ombuds for the African Union Commission

Fouad Hendel was named the inaugural Head of Ombudsman and Mediation Division for the African Union in August 2023. Based at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Hendel provides a of conflict management and employee relations services to Union employees throughout the continent. His appointment is contracted for three years, including an initial one year period. 

March 25, 2024

Job Posting: GAVI

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (formerly known as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, a public–private global health partnership that promotes immunization in poor countries), has issued a request for proposals for an Ombudsperson. Gavi conducted a search for a full-time employee Ombuds in December 2022, but did not make an appointment. The new, part-time contract position will assist internal stakeholders for an initial two -year term and is based at Gavi's headquarters in Geneva.

Austria's Student Ombuds Reports Surge in Cases in 2023

In her latest annual report, the head of the Austrian Student Ombuds Office (Ombudsstelle für Studierende), Anna-Katharina Rothwangl, said her office handled 777 cases in 2022-23, a 21% increase from the prior year. In addition to her statistical report to the Parliamentary Minister for Education, Science and Research, Rothwangl also made 23 proposals to improve higher education. Nine prior proposals were adopted by legislators or institutions last year. The Austrian Student Ombuds Office serves 405,000 students at 77 universities. (Austrian Student Ombuds 2022-23 Report to Parliament, Proposals, Facts & Figures.)

March 22, 2024

Journal Article Connects Ombuds and Organizational Health

A new, peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Community Safety and Well-Being explains how Ombuds create a more resilient and inclusive workplace culture with a positive impact on the organization’s overall health and success. The authors of "Enhancing Organizational Well-being and Growth: The Value of Ombud services and the Development of Ombud Consultation Evaluation Survey" are Katy Kamkar and Mario Baril. Both are Ombuds with Public Services and Procurement Canada.

ENOHE Report Documents Two Decades of Progress

The European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education is commemorating its 20th anniversary with a special publication had been prepared, “20 Years ENOHE. Looking Back – Looking Forward.” The book was edited by Josef Leidenfrost and Jean Grier and is now available for download.

Young Harris College Assigns New Ombuds Duties to Title IX Officer

The private liberal arts college in Georgia has created an Ombuds program for students and named its Associate Vice President for Policy and Compliance and Title IX Coordinator, Laura Whitaker-Lea, as the inaugural College Ombuds. According to the current student handbook, the Ombuds provides typical services, but confidentiality does not cover Title IX and campus safety issues. 

March 21, 2024

Job Posting: SOS Children's Villages, Uganda

The Austria-based international development organization continues to build out its Ombuds program. Currently, it is seeking a National Ombuds to be based in Kampala. As part of a team of Ombuds, the position will report to a (yet to be named) Regional Ombuds. The initial appointment will be for one year.

CppCon Names 2024 Conference Ombuds

Colleen Passard will serve as the first Ombudsperson for the annual, week-long conference for the C++ community in Aurora, Colorado, September 15-20, 2024. The event is sponsored by Standard C++ Foundation and usually draws over 700 attendees. Passard has or will serve as the Ombuds for other software conferences, including CloudNativeCon, KubeDay, and cdCon+GitOpsCon. (CppCon Ombuds.)

Kent State University Appoints Faculty Ombuds, Adopts Charter

After an 11-month search, Shannon Driscoll was selected as the first Faculty Ombuds for the public research university in Ohio. She joins an existing Student Ombuds, Amy Quillin, and will serve the university's 2,700 faculty members. Kent State also adopted a charter for the program. According to the independent campus newspaper, Kent Wired, the Ombuds will be required to report Title IX matters.