History of the Ombudsman
Origin of the term “Ombudsman”
The term ombudsman (om-budz-man) originated in Sweden and dates back to 1809 when the Swedish Parliament appointed an Ombudsman to resolve problems in the absence of the king. Ombudsman means grievance handler, the people’s representative or delegate. This concept became a popular method for resolving problems and quickly spread to other countries. In the United States and Canada, Ombudsman Offices have been created to assist citizens, consumers, children, students and employees who wish to address their concerns confidentially. The Ombudsman function has been utilized in state and federal agencies, prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, child protective services, industry and higher education colleges and universities.
Origin of the Ombudsman Office at Washington State University
The Washington State University Office of the University Ombudsman was established in 1970. President Glenn Terrell formed a special faculty Summer Discussion Group on July 23, 1970, to study problems confronting higher education during the period of nation-wide campus unrest of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Many universities established Ombudsman Offices in an attempt to provide a safe place for the university community to have their concerns addressed. In the Discussion Group Committee’s Final Report, published in Community (WSU newspaper) November 12, 1970, President Terrell recommended that an Ombudsman be appointed. The varied and possible functions of the Ombudsman were to:
- Investigate and recommend action on any matter brought up as a grievance by any member(s) of the University community.
- Resolve possible conflict, tension, abuse of rights, etc.
- Anticipate conflict situations, and act appropriately.
The intent was to lessen the direct and initial confrontation of the President with grievances at WSU. The Ombudsman’s Office was created to facilitate the solution of many smaller problems and reshape others in ways which could be dealt with successfully by central administration. President Terrell requested that the Ombudsman resolve conflict by informal attempts at reconciliation with faculty, students, staff or administrative officers in the institution. The Ombudsman’s Office continues to provide an open, immediate, available sounding board for all university related grievances. The services of the Ombudsman do not replace the formal WSU Complaint Procedures or other areas of redress. The Ombudsman is an additional resource, which is neutral, objective, confidential and advisory by identifying options for resolving conflict.
For several years the ombudsman selected was a tenured faculty member serving a two-year term (with optional additional term). In 1998, the Provost selected one half-time tenured faculty and one half-time administrative/professional ombudsman to serve two year terms with optional renewable terms. The Ombudsman operate independently and report directly to the WSU Provost and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. The office is also staffed by an Assistant to the Ombudsman.
Past and Present WSU University Ombudsmen
|Feb. 1971 – Sept. 1973||Bruce Anawalt, Professor of English|
|Sept. 1973 – Sept. 1975||Theodore R. Saldin, Professor of Business Admin.|
|Sept. 1975 – Sept. 1977||F. Dudley Klopfer, Professor of Psychology|
|Sept. 1977 – Sept. 1979||Toshio Akamine, Professor of Education|
|Sept. 1979 – Sept. 1981||Fritz Blackwell, Professor of Asian Studies|
|Sept. 1981 – Sept. 1984||H. Clare Wiser, Professor of Mathematics|
|Sept. 1984 – Aug. 1987||John Donnelly, Professor of Economics|
|Aug. 1987 – July 1990||Walfred Peterson, Professor of Political Science|
|Aug. 1990 – July 1993||H. Clare Wiser, Professor of Mathematics|
|Aug. 1993 – July 1997||Mary Gallwey, Professor of Human Development|
|Dec. 1998 - June 2006||Penne Pierson, Administrative Professional|
|Jan. 1999 - Dec. 2009||Kenneth Struckmeyer, Prof. of Landscape Architecture|
|Aug. 2006 - Jan. 2011||M. Judith Krueger, Administrative Professional|
|Jan. 2010 - Aug. 2011||Raymond A. Jussaume Jr., Prof. of Community & Rural Sociology|
|Aug. 2011 - July 2015||Cathryn Claussen, Professor of Sport Management|
|April 2011 - present||Tena R. Old, Administrative Professional|
|July 2015 - present||Max Kirk, Associate Professor in the School of Design and Construction|
|August 2016 - Present||Debbie Lee, Professor of English|
Principal Assistant to the Ombudsman
|1978 - June 2004||Patricia Bezdicek, Administrative Professional|
|Aug. 2004 - June 2011||Debbie Waite, Administrative Professional|
|July 2011 - present||Janet Herrlinger, Administrative Professional|