LAWRENCE – The fourth annual Ombuds Day will feature a public conversation with Chuck Howard, the executive director of the International Ombuds Association, at the University of Kansas. The event will run from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, and is co-sponsored by the KU Ombuds Office and the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging.
The conversation with Howard is titled “Managing Conflict and Resolution on Campus – the role of the University Ombuds Office.” The informal question-and-answer-style chat features Ada Emmett, KU acting ombuds, and D.A. Graham, current interim vice provost for diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging and former KU ombuds.
“We want to celebrate Ombuds Day to bring people’s attention to the ombuds field and our colleagues globally, while also sharing more about what the KU Ombuds Office offers to the entire KU community locally,” Emmett said. “The mission of the KU Ombuds Office is to provide a space for an off-the-record conversation about situations that a person might be facing and explore their options in a way that ensures all members of the university community receive fair and equitable treatment.”
Ombuds are found in many organizations, including universities, government agencies, health care institutions, corporations, financial institutions, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, the media and international organizations.
The event is available to attend in-person in the Alderson Room at the Kansas Union. A livestream is available to view, but free registration is required.
“Ombuds Day also gives us the opportunity to bring a leader in the ombuds field to our campus to exchange ideas about their experience helping universities shape, develop and maximize their Ombuds Offices,” Emmett said.
Howard is the executive director of the International Ombudsman Association. As noted on the IAO website, he was a partner and general counsel of the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin LLP, resident in its Hartford, Connecticut, office. For almost 30 years, Howard represented ombuds offices at major corporations, universities, research facilities and other organizations throughout the United States as independent counsel. He is the author of “The Organizational Ombudsman: Origins, Roles, and Operations – A Legal Guide,” published by the American Bar Association in January 2020, and he is a frequent presenter and writer on ombuds issues.
An in-person conversation with Howard has been scheduled for senior administrators at KU along with the ombuds team on Wednesday afternoon. The objective is to learn more about ombuds efforts and consider how the ombuds teams’ collective roles as conflict management partners can further support change and improvement in the university community.
The Ombuds Office assists students, staff and faculty on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses and adheres to the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
The ABA has designated the second Thursday of October as Ombuds Day to coincide with Conflict Resolution Month and Mediation Week.