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StarBulletin.com

UH to eliminate complaint service


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POSTED: Thursday, August 13, 2009

The University of Hawaii at Manoa's Office of the Ombuds , which provides confidential problem-solving assistance to students and employees, will close next month because of budget deficits.

“;It's shutting down Sept. 30,”; said UH spokesman Gregg Takayama. “;Right now there only is one-and-a-half staff managing the operation.”;

Takayama said Neal Milner, former head ombuds officer, had resigned from the position recently and will return to a faculty position in the Department of Political Science.

“;I think when he resigned it would have been a difficult position to fill because of his unique capabilities and background,”; Takayama said.

The university's lack of resources made it “;impossible”; to fill the position and to keep the office open, Takayama said.

UH-Manoa is facing a reduction of $66 million, or 26 percent, in the general fund beginning this year, he said.

The center's full-time staff member will be laid off and a part-time employee will transfer to another department. Takayama didn't immediately know the office's budget.

The university notified students about the elimination Tuesday through an e-mail that also directed them to other resources for problem-solving and dispute resolutions.

In the 2007-2008 school year, the Ombuds Office, which was formed in 2006, handled 387 cases, an 8 percent increase from the previous year. The three main issues reported at the office were financial aid, grading, and incivility, with incivility and bullying the top concern.