Smith new ombuds for Danforth faculty

Peggie Smith headshot

Peggie R. Smith, the Charles F. Nagel Professor of Employment and Labor Law, has been named the new ombuds for the Danforth Campus faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, announced Provost Holden Thorp.

Linda Nicholson, the Susan E. and William P. Stiritz Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies in Arts & Sciences, stepped down from the position of faculty ombuds at the beginning of July after almost five years in the position.

The office, which was established in September 2010, provides faculty a confidential, informal place to discuss concerns about the university, its policies or its procedures.

“I am extremely grateful to Linda Nicholson for her commitment and years of service as faculty ombuds. Linda provided a confidential, impartial and independent place where her faculty colleagues felt comfortable discussing campus-related concerns or disputes,” Thorp said.

“As a leading scholar in labor and employment law and one who is highly respected by her colleagues, Peggie will be a strong successor to Linda,” Thorp said. “I’m confident faculty who reach out to Peggie will find her to be a fair, neutral resource who can help guide them in finding solutions to their workplace issues.”

“Linda Nicholson, and Susan Appleton before her, both did an outstanding job as faculty ombuds,” Smith said. “I am excited to continue the work that they did, and I look forward to helping faculty members determine how best to resolve workplace concerns and conflicts that they face.”

Washington University’s ombuds follow the International Ombudsman Association’s standards of practice and ethical principles. 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.

Smith teaches primarily in the areas of employment and labor law, and her scholarship focuses on the regulation of care work.

Smith joined the Washington University faculty in 2010 after several years on the faculty at the University of Iowa College of Law. Since her arrival, she has been actively involved in the university community, including serving on the Faculty Senate Council and as a member of the Ferguson Academic Seed Fund Committee. Most recently, she served as vice dean of the School of Law.

To arrange a meeting or a phone conversation with Smith, contact her at

The ombuds office is in Sever Hall, Room 13. Although no specific office hours are designated, an initial phone or email contact will result in a prompt response to discuss an issue or concern, or to arrange an in-person meeting. The office number is 314-935-7673.

Visit the Danforth Campus Office of the Ombuds website for more information on that office.

The School of Medicine also has an ombuds office, which is located in Room 161 in the Maternity Building, 4911 Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza.

Karen L. O’Malley, professor of neuroscience, and James J. Fehr, MD, professor of anesthesiology and of pediatrics, serve as the medical school faculty ombuds. O’Malley also serves as the ombuds for all medical students.

The university also has a staff ombuds, Jessica Kuchta-Miller, who provides support for all staff and postdoctoral appointees as well as graduate students at all campus locations.

To reach the Office of the Ombuds at the School of Medicine, call 314-660-2089. To reach the staff ombuds, call 314-379-8110.

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