UC Santa Cruz celebrates Ombuds Day, Oct. 12

De Acker, University Ombuds.
Anthony Keen-Louie, Associate Ombuds.

The UC Santa Cruz Office of the Ombuds reopened in January 2023 after a decade-long hiatus, bringing back a vital resource for the campus community. The ombuds staff provide confidential, neutral, independent, and informal dispute resolution services for all students, staff, and faculty in the UC Santa Cruz community.

As the academic year unfolds, the campus community has the opportunity to celebrate Ombuds Day. Ombuds work to informally address or resolve individual and systemic issues outside of and complementary to formal channels such as litigation, grievances, equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaints, and more.  Ombuds Day is a day dedicated to recognizing the invaluable role played by ombuds professionals and encouraging wider use of their services.

This year, the campus is gearing up for an inclusive celebration of Ombuds Day, aiming to foster a shared understanding of the critical support the Ombuds Office offers to the campus community.

The UC Santa Cruz Ombuds Office is the campus's go-to destination for faculty, staff, and students grappling with academic or administrative issues and disputes. 

Heading the team is De Acker, University Ombuds, who brings a wealth of experience from her more than three decades within the UC system. Acker has held various leadership positions, including director of the UC Santa Barbara Women's Center and assistant dean at UC Merced. Her history includes founding the first ombuds office on the Merced campus and establishing the UC Merced Office of Campus Climate.

Joining Acker is Anthony Keen-Louie, Associate Ombuds, a seasoned student affairs professional and mediator. Keen-Louie has served in multiple roles on various UC campuses, including UC San Diego, where he spent eight years in residential life leadership roles, supporting inclusive student community development.

The primary mission of the UC Santa Cruz Office of the Ombuds is to help all parties involved reach mutually acceptable agreements, aiming for fair and equitable resolutions to their concerns. While the office operates independently in managing cases and issues, it maintains a crucial line of communication with the Chancellor's Office for administrative and budgetary support. 

Confidentiality remains paramount, but the Ombuds team is poised to closely monitor cases, spot common trends, provide feedback within the organization, and advocate for systemic changes when necessary.

As the campus community celebrates Ombuds Day, it's a fitting reminder of the pivotal role played by ombuds professionals in resolving conflicts, enhancing organizations, and promoting accountability. The reopening of the Ombuds Office at UC Santa Cruz is not just a milestone for the campus but also a testament to the importance of conflict resolution in maintaining a harmonious academic environment, ultimately advancing and strengthening equity and access at UC Santa Cruz.