History of the Ombuds

Origin of the Ombuds Office at Washington State University

The Washington State University Office of the University Ombudsman was established in 1970. President Glenn Terrell formed a special faculty Summer Discussion Group on July 23, 1970, to study problems confronting higher education during the period of nation-wide campus unrest of the 1960’s and 1970’s. During that time, many universities established Ombudsman Offices as safe places for university community members to bring their concerns. In the Discussion Group’s Final Report, published in Community (WSU newspaper) November 12, 1970, President Terrell recommended that an Ombudsman be appointed. The Ombudsman was charged to:

  • Investigate and recommend action on any matter brought up as a grievance by any member(s) of the University community.
  • Resolve possible conflict, tension, abuse of rights, etc.
  • Anticipate conflict situations, and act appropriately.

The intent was to lessen the direct and initial confrontation of the President with grievances at WSU. The Ombudsman’s Office was created to facilitate the early resolution of problems and reshape others to prevent escalation to upper administration. President Terrell asked the Ombudsman to resolve conflict through informal means of reconciliation between faculty, staff, and students. The Ombuds Office continues to provide a safe, immediate, and informal sounding board for all university related grievances.

While the Ombuds Office is an additional resource that is neutral, objective, confidential, and advisory, the services of the Ombuds do not replace formal WSU grievance processes and policies.

Origin of the term “Ombudsman”

The term ombudsman (om-budz-man) originated in Sweden and dates back to 1809 when the Swedish Parliament appointed an Ombudsman to resolve problems in the absence of the king. Ombudsman means the people’s representative, grievance handler, or delegate. This concept developed into a popular method for resolving problems and quickly spread to other countries. In the United States, Canada, and throughout the world, Ombudman Offices have been created to assist citizens, consumers, patients, children, students, and employees who wish to address their concerns confidentially. The Ombudsman function has been utilized in state and federal agencies, prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, child protective services, industry and higher education colleges and universities. In recent years, the term “Ombudsman” has been replaced by “Ombuds” by the International Ombuds Association.


For many years the Ombuds was a tenured faculty member serving a two-year term (with an optional additional term). In 1998, the Provost selected one half-time tenured faculty and one half-time administrative/professional Ombuds to serve two-year terms with optional renewable terms.

The Ombuds operate independently and report directly to the WSU Provost and the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. The office is also staffed by a Principal Assistant who manages office administration.

Past and Present WSU University Ombudsmen

1971Louis McNew
Feb. 1971 – Sept. 1973Bruce Anawalt, Professor of English
Sept. 1973 – Sept. 1975Theodore R. Saldin, Professor of Business Admin.
Sept. 1975 – Sept. 1977F. Dudley Klopfer, Professor of Psychology
Sept. 1977 – Sept. 1979Toshio Akamine, Professor of Education
Sept. 1979 – Sept. 1981Fritz Blackwell, Professor of Asian Studies
Sept. 1981 – Sept. 1984H. Clare Wiser, Professor of Mathematics
Sept. 1984 – Aug. 1987John Donnelly, Professor of Economics
Aug. 1987 – July 1990Walfred Peterson, Professor of Political Science
Aug. 1990 – July 1993H. Clare Wiser, Professor of Mathematics
Aug. 1993 – July 1997Mary Gallwey, Professor of Human Development
Dec. 1998 - June 2006Penne Pierson, Administrative Professional
Jan. 1999 - Dec. 2009Kenneth Struckmeyer, Prof. of Landscape Architecture
Aug. 2006 - Jan. 2011M. Judith Krueger, Administrative Professional
Jan. 2010 - Aug. 2011Raymond A. Jussaume Jr., Prof. of Community & Rural Sociology
Aug. 2011 - July 2015Cathryn Claussen, Professor of Sport Management
April 2011 - August 2018Tena R. Old, Administrative Professional
July 2015 - May 2021Max Kirk, Associate Professor in the School of Design and Construction
August 2016 - May 2023Debbie (DJ) Lee, Regents Professor of English
August 2018 - May 2024Sheri Glaesman, Administrative Professional
January 2022 - PresentJustin Denney, Associate Professor of Sociology
August 2022 - PresentKaren Sanguinet, Associate Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences

Principal Assistant to the Ombudsman

1978 - June 2004Patricia Bezdicek, Administrative Professional
Aug. 2004 - June 2011Debbie Waite, Administrative Professional
July 2011 - presentJanet Herrlinger, Administrative Professional