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University of Texas Gets First Ombudsperson for Staff

UT-Austin hires its first ombudsperson to specifically handle internal staff disputes.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News
UT-Austin hires its first ombudsperson to specifically handle internal staff disputes.

For the first time ever, the University of Texas at Austin will have a staff ombudsperson – an independent third-party who can help resolve internal conflicts with staff members. Jennifer Graf Sims begins her new duties on July 20, according to a press release.

“As many of you know, the creation of this position has been several years in the making,” UT President Bill Powers said in a post on his blog.

Sims has served as an ombuds at Bridgepoint Education, a for-profit higher education company based in San Diego. She was also ombudsman at the University of Hawaii.

UT already has an ombuds for faculty and students. The UT Staff Council has been pressing administration for several years to hire one to deal with disputes involving staff members. Last year, the council adopted the need for a staff ombudsperson as one of its top three priorities.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at nbernier@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.