The University of Michigan named Jacqueline Bowman as its first ombuds for University staff on Monday, filling the new position in the Office of the Ombuds next year.
The new staff ombuds will follow a similar model to the student and faculty ombuds, providing support services to staff primarily at Michigan Medicine and the Ann Arbor campus who wish to discuss complaints and questions about University operations. After its first year, considerations will be made to expand to the Flint and Dearborn campuses.
Following feedback from staff regarding the need for greater support, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s Staff Committee recommended the creation of the position. Kim Broekhuizen, associate director of Public Affairs, said this office will aim to bridge the gap between dispute resolution support for staff and ombuds services already in place for faculty and students.
“An organization the size of U-M would benefit from a single entity able to receive confidential information, like an ombuds,” Broekhuizen said in an email. “The goal was to better assist staff who sometimes feel reluctant to share concerns or are unsure what support is available to them.”
Chief Diversity Officer Robert Sellers, vice provost for Equity and Inclusion, created the Staff Ombudsperson Program Proposal Committee last spring, which reviewed and considered applicants, ultimately selecting Bowman for the job.
“Jacquie is the ideal person to support our staff in this new role,” Sellers said in a University press release. “Her training in counseling and educational psychology, direct experience as an ombudsperson and specific knowledge of U-M are precisely the mix we sought to ensure an effective neutral third party.”
Bowman has had prior experience a similar role at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, leading the formation of a new ombuds office there. Bowman also previously worked as an ombudsperson in the corporate world at a Fortune 500 company.