The University of Washington was one of the first universities in the United States to recognize the importance of the Ombudsman’s role. While the university has changed significantly since the Ombud was appointed in 1969, the mission of the Ombud Office has remained the same:
Our mission is to provide high quality, client-focused services for preventing, managing, and resolving conflict at this University. Through active participation in the problem-solving process, clients develop the ability to prevent, manage, and resolve future conflicts.
The first "Ombudsman" was established by the Swedish legislature in 1809 to respond to public complaints against government actions. In quick succession, other countries soon began using ombudsmen including Finland, New Zealand, and Britain.
Universities in the United States began appointing ombudsmen in the 1960s in response to the student protest movement and as a way to better adapt to the growing diversity of needs and concerns within university communities. Among the initial universities to establish an Ombudsman’s Office, the University of Washington appointed its first Ombud in 1969. The Office of the Ombud was not intended to replace existing University governance or appeal procedures. The purpose was to improve communications regarding University operations and to enable members of the University community to protect their rights and have their concerns responded to efficiently and effectively.
In 1979, this University became the first higher education institution in the nation to establish the Office of the Ombudsman for Sexual Harassment. The role of the Ombudsman for Sexual Harassment was discontinued in 2008 with the creation of the Title IX/ADA Coordinator, but the Ombud continues to provide support around these issues. All programs and services are designed for faculty, staff, students, alumni, visitors, and others who use the University's facilities and services.