Wohl, who has been on the Auburn faculty since 1996, has served on a national roster of mediators since 2006 and was interim ombudsperson for Louisiana State University in 2007.
“We are pleased to have someone with Jim’s background available to our employees,” Auburn President Jay Gogue said. “The collaboration of the university senate and senior administration in establishing this office shows a commitment to promoting a fair and positive workplace at Auburn.”
Appointed by Provost John Heilman, the new position is for a two-year trial period starting Sept. 2 and it will supplement existing grievance procedures and other administrative processes on campus. Wohl will not perform formal investigations, make policy or overturn decisions, but can offer advice on possible resolutions and serve as an impartial third-party liaison. He will spend 75 percent of his time as ombudsperson and will continue to teach in his specialty area of veterinary emergency and critical care medicine.
“It is a great privilege to serve as university ombudsperson and I’m eager to earn the trust placed in this office,” Wohl said. “I look forward to getting acquainted with the entire university community and in providing a safe, confidential and informal resource for employees to address concerns.”
Wohl’s training includes certification in workplace conflict management and alternative dispute resolution from the Cornell University Institute of Conflict Resolution. He has completed advanced training courses with the International Ombudsman Association and the Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution of the University System of Georgia.
“I want to help find cooperative solutions that meet the interests of the involved parties when addressing workplace concerns. Rather than advocating for an individual or the university, I will be exploring ways in which people can solve problems informally,” Wohl said. “Seeking the assistance of the ombudsperson is entirely voluntary and the services available range from simply having a conversation to explore options to helping visitors navigate university offices and policies, as well as negotiations and mediation.”
The Ombuds Office will not keep records for the university and will only furnish aggregate statistical data in its annual reports in a manner that protects identities of anyone contacting the office. The office location will be announced later.
Wohl received his bachelor’s degree in public affairs from State University of New York at Albany, a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Purdue University, and a master’s degree in public administration from Auburn. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.
(Written by Charles Martin.)