UH Manoa on track to open Ombudsman's office in Fall 2006

Political Science professor Neal Milner assigned to organize the first such office at Manoa since the 1970s

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Neal Milner, (808) 956-6933
UH Manoa Political Science Department
Posted: Feb 22, 2006

The University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa Office of the Ombudsman will be open for business when the fall 2006 semester begins. The office — established in a Manoa campus reorganization approved last year by the Board of Regents — is being set up to serve students, faculty and staff to resolve their problems and conflicts.

Interim Chancellor Denise Konan has assigned Political Science professor Neal Milner to do the necessary groundwork prior to opening the office. "I‘m excited about this new opportunity to look for ways to resolve conflicts before they escalate into formal grievances or otherwise unduly and unnecessarily unsettle relationships on campus," Konan said. "We are committed to improving the working and learning climate on campus, and I think this is a big step in that effort."

"One of the keys to the success of an ombudsman‘s office is that those who come in for help remain completely anonymous — we will guarantee confidentiality," Milner said. "Using the ombudsman‘s services is voluntary, and we won‘t be trying to supersede university policies. In fact," he added," our goal is to make policies and procedures work for people having problems with them and identify options when policies don‘t apply."

According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, ombudsmen first appeared on U.S. university and college campuses in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Chronicle cites Judith Segall, president of the International Ombudsman Association, as pointing out that "the position originated during a time of nationwide campus unrest in response to college personnel who needed a neutral place to voice their concerns."

"(Segall) says the number of academic members in her association has increased steadily over the last five years, and she estimates that more than 200 colleges and universities now have an office," the Chronicle article says. Her association offers training and professional assistance to public and private organizations that have established the office.

Milner has been scheduling meetings with campus organizations to explain the goals of the office and to ask for suggestions. "We will act as an impartial third party in resolving conflicts, and, ultimately," he said, "recommend changes in polices that seem to be a problem and even develop programs to prevent problems from re-occurring."

To schedule a briefing or contribute to the process of establishing the office, please contact Neal Milner at 956-6933 or milner@hawaii.edu.