Appointment of Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett as University Ombudsperson and Report of the Committee to Review the Office of the University Ombudsperson (2015)

PDAD&C #90, 2014-15


Governing Council
Academic Board
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Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs
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President of UTFA
Presidents of Employee Unions
Presidents of APUS, GSU, SCSU, UTSU and UTMSU
President of UTAA


Mr. Jeff Collins, Chair, Committee to Review the Office of the University Ombudsperson


May 21, 2015

Re: Appointment of Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett as University Ombudsperson and Report of the Committee to Review the Office of the University Ombudsperson

I am pleased to advise you that at its meeting on May 20, 2015 the Governing Council approved the appointment of Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett as University Ombudsperson, for a three-year term effective July 1, 2015 until June 30, 2018. In addition, the Governing Council approved in principle the Report of the Committee to Review the Office of the University Ombudsperson (April 2015)

Professor Emeritus Hodnett’s appointment is the culmination of a process that began in October 2014 with the striking of a Committee to Review the Office of the University Ombudsperson. The Terms of Reference and the membership of the Committee are available below.

The 2015 Review of the Office of the University Ombudsperson involved a comprehensive consultation process which informed its recommendations as well as the recruitment process. The Review Committee found that the Office was a responsive and effective resource for the impartial resolution of complaints and an invaluable source of highly credible advice on the improvement of the University’s policies, processes, and outcomes. The Committee wished to affirm the progress that had been made on recommendations arising from the report of the previous review committee, and to encourage the continuation and ongoing enhancement of those efforts. (For a full list of the recommendations put forward by the Review Committee see page 16 of the Report.)

The Report includes a section on the profile of the position of the University Ombudsperson which details the desirable qualities, competencies and experience for the role of University Ombudsperson. The candidate profile was broadly outlined as follows: a senior and widely respected faculty member (retired as of June 30, 2015), with academic administrative experience and/or governance experience.

Professor Emeritus Hodnett is highly respected in the University community and is considered to be principled, fair and enormously committed to the values of the University – all attributes that are essential in a role such as that of Ombudsperson. A brief biography of Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett is provided below.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Emeritus Foley for her outstanding service as University Ombudsperson.  Professor Emeritus Foley was first appointed by the Governing Council for a three-year term from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2010, she was subsequently reappointed in 2010 for another three-year term, to June 30, 2013, and in 2012 for a further two-year term to June 30, 2015. As stated in the Report, Professor Foley brought a wealth of knowledge, experience, insight and credibility to her role as University Ombudsperson. Her service as University Ombudsperson is the capstone of a lengthy and distinguished career at the University of Toronto which began in 1963. Her legacy will have a lasting impact on the fabric of the institution. 

Committee to Review the Office of the University Ombudsperson (2014-15)

Terms of Reference

(a) to review the status and progress of the Office of the Ombudsperson in the light of the recommendations of the Report of the Committee to Review the Office of the University Ombudsperson, 2012-2013, approved by the Governing Council on April 9, 2013, in particular: the effectiveness of the operations of the Office of the University Ombudsperson; the awareness of the Office by members of the University community across the three campuses; and, the communication of its services;

(b) to make recommendations concerning the appointment of an Ombudsperson.


Alexis Archbold* (Administrative staff governor)
Harvey Botting (Alumni governor)
Ben Coleman (Student governor)
Jeff Collins (Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council governor), Chair
Andrea Sass-Kortsak* (Teaching Staff governor)

Angela Hildyard (Administrative Advisor)
Sheree Drummond (Secretary)

*Served on the 2012 Committee

NB:  Lee Hamilton, Acting Assistant Secretary, also provided support to the Committee.

Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett

Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett began her career with the University of Toronto in 1975 as a lecturer. Since that time, she has taught at all levels of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing’s undergraduate and graduate programs, in large lecture courses, small seminars, in hospital units, and as a PhD supervisor. In the early 1990s, Professor Emeritus Hodnett was a member of the committee that developed Nursing’s PhD program, and since the creation of that program Professor Emeritus Hodnett has supervised or been a committee member for numerous PhD students.

Her lengthy career with the University of Toronto includes substantial scholarly, administrative and governance contributions, including service as Acting Dean of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, as Coordinator of the Faculty of Nursing’s PhD program, and as a member of Governing Council for nine years, including four years as the Chair of the Academic Board. While a governor, she also served as a member of the Implementation Committee of the Task Force on Governance, as well as a member of the Executive Committee, Planning and Budget, Honorary Degrees Committee, the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council Appointments Committee, and the Academic Appeals Committee. She also served recently as a member of the Special Joint Advisory Committee (SJAC), the group charged with making recommendations about changes to the Memorandum of Agreement between the Governing Council of the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Faculty Association.

Professor Emeritus Hodnett’s scholarly research has focused on rigorous evaluations of forms of care for childbearing women. It has also examined how the physical setting for labour affects the behaviour of women and their care providers, as well as birth outcomes.  She has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and she has given 99 invited addresses, and has continued to be sought after for invited addresses internationally. 
Professor Emeritus Hodnett has served as an Editor for the Pregnancy and Childbirth Group of the Cochrane Collaboration (an international organization whose mission is to promote evidence-informed health decision-making by synthesizing high-quality research evidence), as a member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group of the World Health Organization Maternal and Reproductive Health Research Program, and also as a member of an Advisory Group of the U.S. Institute of Medicine.

She is also a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and an Associate Senior Fellow in Massey College. In 1996, she was appointed to the first endowed chair in nursing research in Canada, the Heather M. Reisman Chair in Perinatal Nursing Research, a position she held for 15 years.

Professor Emeritus Hodnett holds a B.S.N. (Cum Laude) from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., an M.Sc.N. from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. from the Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto.