On Thursday, June 30, 2022 I will leave my position as NC State Faculty & Staff Ombuds. This was and is my choice and I want to thank NC State for its support! With 40 years in the conflict resolution field as mediator, attorney, educator and ombuds, it’s time to take a break! Thus, farewell and not good bye!
Over the last 7+ years I’ve served as first the faculty and then staff ombuds for NC State. I provided independent, confidential, informal, and impartial conflict engagement services and worked with faculty, staff, and some students across the university. I did my best to assist those individuals that reached out and help the university as a whole. One goal at NC State is to “Think and Do” so for the ombuds it was to support NC State as it “thought and did” conflict. That’s the ombuds job. To invite people and the organization to rethink issues, concerns, and conflicts as opportunities and catalyst for constructive change.
The work is rarely easy yet it can be rewarding to help someone navigate a difficult situation and come out on the other side in a positive frame. It can also be gratifying to help the organization consider an issue from a different perspective and, in some cases, take action. While ombuds services including faculty, staff, and student are a “small” part of NC State; nonetheless, we can have significant impacts for both the people and the organization we serve.
It’s been an honor to serve as the initial faculty and staff ombuds and there are many people to thank along my ombuds journey. Chancellor Randy Woodson and Provost Warwick Arden were there at the start and along with the Faculty Senate were my first supporters as we established faculty ombuds services in early spring 2015. Soon after, Staff Senate sought and then supported the Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Marie Williams and the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Scott Douglas to establish staff ombuds services in January 2017. Now VC for Finance and Administration Charlie Maimone and VC for HR Tim Danielson support the staff ombuds office.
I also want to offer special thanks to my NC State ombuds colleague Mike Giancola and Senior Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Katharine Stewart. Mike is the student ombuds and together, while we run separate offices and had different constituents, we built a strong working relationship to provide NC State comprehensive ombuds services. Thank you Mike! To Katharine, she was always willing to talk about how “faculty” things worked at NC State and for that I’m so very grateful.
Over the years I’ve met with senior leadership and attended housekeeper meetings. I’ve presented at faculty department meetings and staff units to connect them with ombuds services. I’ve attended Faculty Senate meetings every other week during the academic semester and Staff Senate meetings every first Wednesday of the month. I’ve talked to people across the university and it’s been a privilege to be invited in to help move the university forward. I’ve met extraordinary people throughout.
As I step away I invite you (NC State) to reach out to the next ombuds. Introduce yourself, walk with them across campus, and help them step into this wonderful yet challenging role. They will be there to help you and they will need your help too! Finally, while not alumni nor employee of NC State, as ombuds I’ve built a connection and, thus, say in farewell – Go Pack!