I’m delighted to announce the appointment of UT’s first staff ombudsperson. The Staff Ombuds Search Committee conducted a national search this spring, and on their recommendation I have appointed Jennifer Graf Sims as staff ombuds effective July 20. An ombuds is a neutral third-party who assists in problem solving and conflict resolution.
Jennifer’s prior experience as an ombuds in higher education makes her an ideal choice for our staff ombuds position. She comes to us from Bridgepoint Education, where she was associate ombuds. Jennifer also served as an ombuds officer at the University of Hawai’i-Manoa. I am very happy to welcome her to the 40 Acres. You can read more about Jennifer’s experience and education, as well as more description of the role of her office here.
As many of you know, the creation of this position has been several years in the making. I’d like to take a moment to thank the search committee for its work: Chair Charles Roeckle, deputy to the president; Jennifer Smith, student affairs administrator in the College of Natural Sciences; Del Watson, director of human resources planning in the McCombs School; Mary Steinhardt, faculty ombudsperson; and Lauren Bloom, student ombudsperson.
I’d also like to thank the UT Staff Council leaders and the Staff Council ad hoc committee that conducted an extensive study of the staff grievance process as well as the role of a staff ombudsperson. Without their hard work and perseverance, establishing this position might not have been possible.
The staff ombuds will report directly to my office. Formal staff grievances will continue to be handled by the Human Resource Services Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution Office.
I believe it has been helpful to have an ombudsperson serving faculty and students, and adding a staff ombuds will make the University a better place for staff to work.