Dear AUC community,
I am delighted to announce that Hanan Sabea, assistant professor of anthropology, has agreed to serve as the University’s first ombuds officer.
Professor Sabea was selected through a rigorous search and I want to thank the search committee, which included representatives of students, staff, faculty and senior administration, for the thoroughness and care with which they approached this task. The finalists were all strong candidates, but Professor Sabea, who was initially nominated for the position by both a staff member and a student, won praise from everyone on the committee for the strength of her vision of the office, as well as her personal integrity and commitment.
A scholar of Africa, she is a graduate of AUC, from which she earned both a BA and an MA, and of Johns Hopkins University, from which she received her PhD. After teaching for six years at the University of Virginia, where she held a joint appointment in the Department of Anthropology and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African and African American Studies, she returned to AUC as a member of the faculty in 2005. She has been deeply involved in the efforts by students and staff to ensure that the University is an open, just and humane institution and has won the respect of many across the campus for her insight and dedication.
The University ombuds is responsible for neutral and impartial dispute resolution, providing confidential and informal assistance to constituents of the University community, including students, staff, faculty and administrators. Serving as a designated neutral, the ombuds is not an advocate for any individual or for the University as a whole but, rather, for fairness, while recognizing prevailing structures of power and inequality. The ombuds acts as a source of information and referral, aids in answering an individual’s questions, and assists in the resolution of concerns and disputes. In considering any given instance, the rights of all parties that might be involved are taken into account. This office supplements, but does not replace, the University’s existing resources for conflict resolution, including the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office, the Senate Grievance Committee, the Labor Rights Oversight Committee, etc.
The ombuds is independent of existing administrative structures and reports directly to the president. While maintaining confidentiality of communications, the ombuds prepares an annual report to the University community. Based on anonymous aggregate data, this report discusses trends in the reporting of grievances and concerns, identifies patterns or problem areas in University policies and practices, and recommends revisions and improvements.
In the coming weeks, Professor Sabea, who will formally start her responsibilities on January 1, 2012, will be establishing her office and developing the protocols by which it will operate. You will be hearing directly from her shortly. In the meantime, please join me in welcoming Hanan Sabea to one of the most important offices at AUC.
The American University in Cairo