AUBURN – Auburn University Ombudsperson Jim Wohl has been reappointed to a three-year term, Provost Mary Ellen Mazey announced recently.
Wohl served as ombudsperson during a two-year trial period for the position that was established in 2008. He acts as a neutral party in helping employees and the university address workplace conflicts and concerns.
“The trial period was focused on establishing the office,” Wohl said. “I’m eager to focus this next phase on building rapport and ensuring that employees all across campus know about the Ombuds Office and how it can be of assistance.”
Wohl, who has been a member of the Auburn faculty since 1996, has been a member of the International Ombudsperson Association since 2006 and was interim ombudsperson for Louisiana State University in 2007. Most recently, he served as mediation training coach for the Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.
Reappointed by Provost Mazey and the Executive Committee of the Auburn University Senate, the position allows Wohl to continue supplementing existing grievance procedures and other administrative processes on campus.
“I’m very eager to continue with this work,” Wohl said. “I’m currently scheduling time to meet with employee groups and units across campus to talk about how informal and confidential approaches and dialogue can effectively address peoples’ needs when problems arise.”
Wohl does not perform formal investigations, make policy or overturn decisions, but he does discuss options on possible resolutions and can serve as an impartial third-party liaison. He will continue to spend 75 percent of his time as ombudsperson while he teaches in the veterinary curriculum and an undergraduate/graduate-level mediation course.
“I feel having an Ombuds Office for employees to surface and address problems has been very useful for the university,” Wohl said. “The university administration has been very cooperative and committed to making the Ombuds Office a channel for people to address issues informally and an opportunity to get their needs met.”
During his service, he has conducted more than 25 presentations on campus and furnished the first report of the University Ombuds Office. Wohl occasionally consulted as a mediator for the Employment Mediation Panel of the Cornell University Institute of Conflict Resolution Roster of Neutrals as well. He also presented on the ombudperson’s role and informal conflict management strategies at the 2009 and 2010 Annual Meeting of the International Ombudsman Association and the 2009 National Extension and Research Administrative Officers’ Conference.
The Ombuds Office does not keep records for the university and only furnishes aggregate statistical data in its annual reports in a manner that protects identities of anyone contacting the office. The office is located in suite 005 in the Quad Center and can be contacted at 844-7170. Wohl often meets with visitors outside normal business hours to accommodate others’ schedules and privacy.
Wohl received his bachelor’s degree in public affairs from State University of New York at Albany, a master’s degree in public administration from Auburn and a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Purdue University. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.
(Written by Sarah Phillips.)