UI names new ombudsperson


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Susan Johnson will have a new job next year.

Starting Jan. 1, Johnson will take over as a UI ombudsperson, helping students, staff, and faculty work through difficult problems.

Appointed by UI President Sally Mason, Johnson brings a wealth of experience to the position, and she said she is excited about beginning the new job.

“I think the position offers a lot of value to the campus,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Johnson is at present the UI associate provost for faculty, and she previously worked as associate dean for faculty affairs in the Carver College of Medicine. She also worked as an Ob-Gyn at the UI Hospitals and Clinics, and she is an expert on menopause and hormone-replacement therapy. She is conducting research on the menopause transition, aiding in a study involving more than 3,000 women nationwide.

The Office of the Ombudsperson offers counseling in conflict resolution to all members of the university community and tries to help people resolve issues with campus policy or procedure.

Lois Cox is one of the two UI ombudspersons, a position she has held since filling in for Craig Porter, who left the university in February 2008. Cox will rejoin the law faculty.

Johnson will work alongside Cynthia Joyce, the full-time staff ombudsperson, who said she enjoyed working with Cox but was excited about Johnson’s appointment.

Lois Geist, the associate dean for faculty affairs in the medical school who works with Johnson on a daily basis, said she brings the necessary experience to her new job.

“She has a long-standing commitment to helping people with their problems,” Geist said.

UI Provost Wallace Loh also lauded Johnson’s appointment, praising her ability to listen to people and saying she possesses an “emotional intelligence.”

“These are qualities of temperament … that you either have or you don’t,” he said. “I think she will do very well in this position.”

Johnson said she hopes to continue the work started by Joyce and Cox in trying to improve the overall campus climate and conflict-management skills around campus.

“I’m excited to have an opportunity to work on those issues,” Johnson said.