Ada Emmett Named University Ombuds

LAWRENCE – Ada Emmett has been named university ombuds and has agreed to lead the University of Kansas Ombuds Office. Emmett joined the office in 2019 and most recently served as acting university ombuds. Her appointment is effective immediately.

Ada Emmett, ombuds for the University of Kansas“Ada brings a great deal of compassion and empathy to this role,” said Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor. “I am confident she will provide a welcoming space where KU students, faculty and staff will feel supported and where creative thinking and collaboration can lead the university community to better care for our people.”  

The Ombuds Office has existed at the university for 45 years and provides confidential, independent, informal and impartial spaces for members of the KU community to discuss and seek resolution to issues they may be facing.

A faculty member at KU for 20 years and tenured since 2008, Emmett first served in a variety of roles with KU Libraries. Most recently she held the director of the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright at KU Libraries. She was selected to serve as faculty ombuds in 2019. She is a member of the International Ombuds Association and practices to its standards. She is also a member of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation. The coalition uses innovative methods to help organizations and collections of individuals from diverse backgrounds solve problems together.

“I am honored for the opportunity to serve the KU community as the next university ombuds,” Emmett said. “There is a long line of ombuds who have served before me, and I am grateful for this chance to grow and refine the Ombuds Office, our practice, our partnerships and our team.”

Emmett held several faculty governance roles and served on numerous universitywide committees during her time at KU. Her primary work and research in the libraries focused on the scholarly publishing system and equity and access issues related to that system.

However, Emmett’s fall 2018 sabbatical, “Sophisticated Forms of Cooperation,” shifted her professional focus to how communities and diverse groups can come together to solve complex and dynamic problems. Emmett took on the role of faculty ombuds in 2019 and after completing several trainings.

As the leader of the Ombuds Office team, Emmett serves as a neutral facilitator when conflicts arise among students, faculty, staff and administrators at KU. She will provide overall direction for the Ombuds Office and offer confidential, informal, impartial and independent consulting services.

Consultation includes clarifying visitors’ concerns, offering information and resources regarding KU’s policies and procedures, discussing options regarding informal, formal and administrative processes for complaint resolution and promoting positive and fair systemic change.

“The university community is a dynamic organization,” Emmett said. “The Ombuds Office must also grow and adapt to the needs of the community it serves. We hope that more people will come to know of the confidential services the Ombuds Office offers so that when they need an off-the-record thought-partners, they will know where to go.”

In addition to confidential meetings with individuals, the Ombuds Office offers facilitated dialogues between two or more willing parties and carefully designs those to help the parties reach mutual understanding and discover new ways forward.

Photo: Ada Emmett. Credit: Nikki Pirch