Closed hearings review dealings

By Lesley Rogers

NIU faculty, staff and students gave testimony last week during closed hearings on the performance of the current ombudsman.

Tim Skeers, chair of the Ombudsman Review/Search Committee, said about six people from different areas of the university community spoke about their dealings with Ombudsman Tim Griffin.

The two-day hearings were confidential because they dealt with personnel matters, Skeers said.

“They commented about their interaction with the ombudsman. Any situation that was helpful or not helpful, they talked about,” he said.

All NIU faculty, staff and students can discuss their concerns with the ombudsman, who provides neutral and objective resolutions to problems within the university community.

The University Council voted earlier this year to change the term limitation of the ombudsman. Originally, a person could only be in the position for a maximum of five years, but now the position can be filled indefinitely.

“The term limitation concept was removed. It is now a three- year term, renewable for additional three-year terms without limitation on how many renewals can take place,” said Curtiss Behrens, UC executive secretary.

The Ombudsman Review/Search Committee was formed to review the performance of the ombudsman in the last year of his term. The committee will make a recommendation to NIU President John La Tourette on whether or not to renew the term.

The hearings were an opportunity for the committee to hear firsthand accounts of his performance by people who have dealt with the ombudsman.

Skeers said the process is going well. “We are getting some useful comments. I am still taking written comments; they can be sent directly to me,” he said.

The committee has been meeting since mid-October and Skeers said they will come to a decision about the renewal early next semester.

“The review has gone well in the past, and it is going well now. The committee is allowing for input by the campus to do an evaluation of performance in this office,” Behrens said.