Chuck Sloane, a deputy ombudsman in the King County Ombudsman’s Office, speaks during his campus presentation in the HUB on Wednesday.
Chuck Sloane, a deputy ombudsman in the King County Ombudsman’s Office, speaks during his campus presentation in the HUB on Wednesday.Photo by Matthew Toles
With the retirement announcement of current UW Ombud Susan Neff earlier this year after serving in the role since 2008, the search began for a new ombud, who will act as a mediator and serve to prevent, manage, and resolve any conflicts presented by faculty, staff, or students at the UW.
Earlier this week, the two candidates identified as finalists for the position by the Advisory Search Committee for the university ombud spoke to the university community and answered pressing questions about the position in separate sessions Wednesday and Thursday afternoon in the HUB.
Bernard Anderson, associate university ombudsman at Kennesaw State University, and Chuck Sloane, a deputy ombudsman in the King County Ombudsman’s Office, are the finalists for the ombud position.
Both candidates emphasized the importance of trust and loyalty as characteristics of a successful ombud.
“I want to do everything I can to honor that trust that people place in me when they come to see me with their concerns, their challenges, and their questions,” Anderson said. “Lots of people just want to be heard sometimes, or they need a nonjudgmental person who they can speak to.”
Anderson, who won a distinguished staff award at Kennesaw State in 2012, mentioned his personal connection to the UW’s mission statement several times throughout his public conversation. He said he felt most connected to the idea that the UW wants students to lead and succeed on a global scale.
“I wanted to make sure the mission statement was congruent with my own values, and it was,” Anderson said, “I was sold; this looked like an opportunity that I wanted to pursue further.”
Anderson has worked both in the Office of Affirmative Action and as a study abroad adviser and said both of those positions contribute to his current success as an ombudsman.
Sloane, a Seattle native and UW alumnus, said his professional past aids him in his current work as deputy ombudsman for King County. Before becoming an ombudsman, Sloane worked in clinical psychology, focusing on both marital therapy and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“[These were] eye-opening experiences in many ways,” Sloane said. “When the opportunity arose [to be the UW ombud], I couldn’t resist applying: It seemed like a really interesting opportunity to service the UW community that I love.”
Lorre Allen, UW director of equal opportunity and affirmative action, asked Sloane how his past experience in marital therapy and PTSD will prepare him to effectively handle the diverse cultures at the UW.
Sloane responded by highlighting one of the largest changes the UW has experienced since he was an undergraduate and explaining how he will approach such diversity.
“One of the biggest changes since my undergrad is the influx of international students who may struggle in an environment like this,” Sloane said. “It’s about making sure those folks know who you are, that you are there and available to them, and you are honest to them about their options.”
During Sloane’s conversation with members of the UW community, he emphasized the importance of identifying trends as a method of detecting the largest, most prevalent concerns or problems on campus. Sloane said that once a trend is identified, an ombud must conduct an effective analysis of it and suggest some solutions.
Additionally, both Anderson and Sloane discussed their intention to immediately begin networking at the UW and building relationships with faculty, staff, and students.
Catalyst surveys are now available for the public to address any further concerns they have with either candidate. The search committee will review the completed surveys as it makes the final decision of who will be the new ombud.
Reach reporter Kate Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @kateclarkuw
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