New Ombuds Office to Support Students, Staff and Faculty

Dr. Ann Brown to chair search committee for university's first full-time ombuds position

Faculty and university staff will soon have access to a full-time, professional ombudsperson – a neutral and confidential consultant who can guide them in navigating work-related concerns.

In addition to serving as the university’s faculty and staff ombuds, the new ombudsperson will create the vision for and oversee an office that will include a full-time professional student ombuds and the part-time student ombuds who currently serves medical school students and trainees. To ensure the neutrality and independence of this function, the new ombudsperson will report directly to Duke University President Vincent E. Price.

The formal ombuds office will serve all university students, faculty, and staff, with the exception of Duke University Health System employees and employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement. The newly created office is part of institutional initiatives to support university values and culture, the Duke Code of Conduct, and Duke’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“The newly developed Duke ombuds office will serve faculty, staff, and students, and help us build a healthier, more vibrant, and more inclusive community,” Price said. “I am thankful for the faculty who have previously served as ombuds, providing invaluable guidance and support to many across campus. The new office will build on their exceptional service to the Duke community.”

“The new ombuds office will be well positioned to serve all Duke community members, providing the needed assistance for faculty, students and staff to navigate a wide range of issues,” said Provost Sally Kornbluth. “I am particularly grateful to the many faculty who provided input and feedback to help shape the evolution of this function at Duke.”

The move to create a central office is based on a 2015 report from the Academic Council’s Diversity Task Force, which recommended the university clarify the responsibilities and enhance resources for an organizational ombuds at Duke.

Price noted his gratitude to a search committee led by Ann Brown, Vice Dean for Faculty at the School of Medicine, which is currently recruiting candidates and plans to fill the position so the new ombuds is in place this fall.

“I am honored to lead the search committee for the new ombudsperson,” Brown said. “The committee is a remarkable group of individuals who will bring broad and unique experiences and perspectives to the search for this position. I am excited to see ombuds services expanded to include University staff, and am enormously grateful to our prior ombuds for their commitment to our faculty and students.”

In addition to Brown, the other members of the search committee include:

  • Lee Baker, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Abbas Benmamoun, Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement
  • Linda Franzoni, Professor of the Practice in the Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science; Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education
  • Kim Hewitt, Vice President for Institutional Equity
  • Trina Jones, Jerome M. Culp Professor of Law
  • Antwan Lofton, Interim VP for Human Resources
  • Vincent Ramos, Dean of the School of Nursing
  • Neera Skurky, Associate General Counsel
  • Vish Viswanathan, F.M. Kirby Professor, Fuqua School of Business
  • Erika Weinthal, Chair of the Academic Council and Professor of Environmental Policy and Public Policy, Nicholas School of the Environment

The search committee, which is being assisted by executive search firm SpencerStuart, is accepting nominations and applications for the ombudsperson position. The search committee invites candidate nominations and comments about the position via email at DukeOmbuds@SpencerStuart.com. All submissions will be considered confidential.