Nicholson new ombuds for Danforth faculty

Ombuds office provides faculty a confidential, informal place to discuss concerns

Linda Nicholson, PhD, the Susan E. and William P. Stiritz Distinguished Professor in Women’s Studies in Arts & Sciences, has been named the new ombuds for Danforth Campus faculty at Washington University in St. Louis.


Susan Appleton, JD, the Lemma Barkeloo and Phoebe Couzins Professor of Law, who has served as the university ombuds since the office was formed in 2010, is stepping down.

James W. Davis, PhD, professor emeritus of political science in Arts & Sciences, who has served as associate ombuds since the office opened, will continue in that role.

Provost Edward S. Macias, PhD, established the Office of Ombuds in September 2010 at the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Women Faculty.

The office provides faculty a confidential, informal place to discuss concerns about the university, its policies or its procedures.

“I appreciate the work that Susan Appleton did in launching the ombuds office and assisting faculty with the resolution or management of their campus-related conflicts or concerns,” says Macias, who also is executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences.

“It is important that our faculty know that there is someone and somewhere to go to on campus to voice their concerns in confidence and have help in developing options, gathering referrals to other offices or resources, and considering ways to solve problems.

“I know that Linda Nicholson, with the ongoing assistance of Jim Davis, will provide the same level of support to the faculty, advocating for fair treatment and process.”

“Susan Appleton did a wonderful job as the initial faculty ombuds,” Nicholson says. “I hope to continue the work she did in making the ombuds office a safe and confidential first-stop place for faculty to talk about problems in their work environments and think through possible solutions.”

WUSTL’s ombuds follow the Standards of Practice and Ethical Principles of the International Ombudsman Association. They adhere to four distinctive principles: confidentiality, independence, impartiality and informality.

The ombuds also report — without identifying information — statistical data or trends showing particular problems and patterns of complaints to prevent such problems from escalating or recurring.

Nicholson, who also is a professor of history in Arts & Sciences, specializes in feminist theory and the history of social identity categories.

Since joining the WUSTL faculty in 2000 after 25 years at the State University of New York-Albany, Nicholson has been actively involved in the university community, including serving on the Center for the Humanities’ advisory board and as a member of the center’s Faculty Fellowship Program and the University Libraries dean search committee.

Most recently, Nicholson served as director of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from 2001-06 and as interim director from 2011-12.

For more information on the Danforth Campus Office of the Ombuds, visit

To arrange a meeting or a phone conversation with either Nicholson or Davis, contact Nicholson at or Davis at

The ombuds office is in Sever Hall, Room 13. While there are no specific office hours, an initial phone call or email will prompt a quick response. The office phone number is (314) 935-7673.