Volume 4, Number 1, Oct. 2003
A Composite Campus
Ombudsing presents many challenges. It is tough at times
to not favor one side or another and remain neutral/impartial.
The campus ombuds finds it difficult at times to leave work
at work and not take things home. It can be frustrating cutting
through red tape, dealing with close-minded and difficult
clients, and encountering individuals committed to "winning"
or "being right". Additionally, the work may leave
one feeling isolated, and emotionally drained.
Important tools found in the ombuds toolkit include: listening,
patience, persistence, balancing creative and analytical problem
solving skills, and debriefing with colleagues.
The campus ombuds is also a visionary. On the horizon she/he
sees an ombuds office in every university and college. Ombudsing
has gained legitimacy in higher education as a useful and
important alternative for managing and resolving conflicts
and promoting justice within institutions. A continuum of
experience exists in the office. One year terms have been
extended, and the appropriate staffing provided in order
to optimize the campus benefits from ombudsing. The office
respected, well known, and is a "first thought"
for the campus community when seeking assistance in resolving
The ombuds knowledge base has increased, and more specialization
among the skill sets has occurred. Ombuds have effectively
met the challenges of increased enrollment, budget cuts,
and an increase in the complexity of issues, both legal
The ombuds concept has evolved, is readily understood by
the public, and very few individuals have difficulty pronouncing
the word. Clear boundaries are defined between the different
categories of ombuds, types of ombuds, their primary function,
Many research and special interest projects have been finished
and new projects have begun. State wide shield laws legally
guaranteeing ombuds confidentiality have been created. The
areas of disagreement between ombuds working in different
have been resolved and a common "language" has been
created that enables ombuds scholars to make legitimate comparisons
of ombudsmanship in different institutions. The Ombuds Profile
Project, The Case Study Project, and The Ombuds Oral History
project have expanded as research resources to include the
work of all categories and types of ombudsing.
The California Caucus of College and University Ombuds continues
to meet at Asilomar. The conferences are well document and
select transcripts are available online as learning resources.
The Caucus Journal has published an anthology which is found
in the library of every major university. It has also been
made available online. Alternative Dispute Resolution has
become a field of study within Political Science Departments
and an emphasis in ombudsing is offered. Peer ombuds groups
join the efforts of peer mediators in high schools. An international
ombuds is appointed and joins a team of international alternative
dispute resolution practitioners to problem solve for acts
of injustice and unfair processes. Progress is made toward
problem solving for world peace.
This is what a campus ombuds looks like in 2002.
Misa Kelly is the Assistant Ombusperson at the University
of California - Santa Barbara Ombuds Office. She can
be reached at (805) 893-3285 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org