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History of Ombuds
Ely Center 113
As an advocate for fairness, the Ombuds Office shares information on institutional policies and provides guidance to our visitors in navigating conflicts and other issues. This is to support the visitor in developing a better understanding of the system at the university and learning alternative ways of identifying and communicating concerns related to conflicts.
The word “ombudsman” originated in Sweden during the 19th century. The original definition was a public official appointed by the Swedish king to review citizens’ complaints against governmental agencies and matters. The ombuds can best be described as “the person who has an ear to the people.”
As shared in the 9/20/2021 Hi5 (Gallaudet’s University Communication):
“The road to the establishment of the Office of Ombuds started in 2006 when students of color protested the University’s flawed process which eliminated Dr. Glenn B. Anderson, ’68 & H-’14, per paper screening without a chance for an interview. When Dr. Robert R. Davila, ’53 & H-’96, became the university’s ninth president in 2007, he saw an immediate need for an ombuds office.”
President Davila asked Edgar B. Palmer, ’77, to explore and collect information on establishing an ombuds office. Palmer was the first known deaf person to attend an International Ombuds Association conference. He also chaired the search committee which led to the hiring of Suzanne Singleton Rosen, E-’88, as Gallaudet’s first Ombuds. Rosen Singleton served until 2012, and was followed by Dr. Michael L. Moore, ’68, who served as Interim ombuds for one year while a national search was conducted. The position of ombuds was vacant for one year after Dr. Moore retired. In January 2015, Stone became the university’s third Ombuds.
Through many conversations, long waits, and two searches, the one-person Office of the Ombuds finally grew to three people in Fall 2021. According to Stone, it took 13 years of lobbying by three different Ombuds to make this possible for a more diverse office.
The Office of the Ombuds consists of highly trained practitioners with various content knowledge areas such as restorative practices, facilitative mediation, appreciative inquiry, culturally competent conflict resolution models and approaches, and more. We seek frequent training to keep up with the tools to help our visitors to navigate issues better.
To maintain and preserve our work, skills, a superior level of professionalism, and initiative, we also adhere to our field’s professional organization, the International Ombuds Association’s Standards of Practice.
The Ombuds Office is always looking for experienced facilitators from the University community and outside to help our facilitation work. The facilitators are screened based on the visitors’ preferences and needs. If you are interested in becoming one of our facilitators, please fill out the form here. If you have any questions about this process or the form, we would love to hear from you—please contact us.
In collaboration with the International Ombuds Association (IOA), Ombuds all over the world hosts an annual event to celebrate “Ombuds Day” which falls on the third Thursday of October each year. This day helps us to educate and raise awareness among the public about the history and practices of the ombuds profession including the various ombuds models, the roles they play, the services they offer, and the value provided.
Previous Annual Ombuds Day @ Gallaudet activities:
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
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