Who We Are

UW-Madison Ombuds remain available to serve the university community remotely by phone or video conferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact us at: 608-265-9992 and leave a message, or uwombuds@mailplus.wisc.edu.

The UW-Madison Ombuds Office is a place where university employees can seek guidance regarding workplace concerns at any time, without fear of reprisal, and at no cost to them. Ombuds confidentially receive questions and concerns related to individual situations as well as broader systemic issues. The response of the ombuds is tailored to the dynamics of the situation and the nature of the concerns. Ombuds assist parties in reaching resolutions that are consistent with the ideals and objectives of the university.

The Ombuds Office is part of the university’s efforts to enhance diversity and climate, and was developed from recommendations from the Committee on Women in the University and the Provost’s Campus Climate Network, as well as other governance bodies. The Ombuds Office was established in 2003.

The Ombuds Office employs retired faculty and staff who work part-time as a team of consultants. There are five individuals who share these responsibilities and who report to the provost.

Important qualifications for Ombuds include:

  • Knowledge of university policies and resources
  • Extensive cross-campus experience
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to be objective and impartial


The Ombuds Office does not have regular office hours. To arrange an appointment, please contact us by phone or email.



Feedback and Poster

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Download and print an Ombuds Office Poster (available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Tibetan, Chinese and Napali).

Current Ombuds

Michael (Mike) Ashmore

Mike Ashmore retired from the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) in 2015 after nearly 30 years in service to the State of Wisconsin. Mike capped off his career as a program assistant supervisor in SMPH Academic Affairs Office. Areas of expertise were fiscal and payroll, plus knowledge of human resources policies and procedures. Prior to working at SMPH, Mike was employed as a financial specialist in UW-Extension Family Living Programs.
Working at UW-Madison afforded Mike the opportunity to interact professionally with all classifications of university employees as well as UW students.
Prior to UW employment, Mike worked with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) in Kenosha, Platteville, Tomah, Madison and Green Bay. One of Mike’s most interesting duties at DOT was administering behind the wheel road tests to new drivers.
Mike has a long history of volunteer service in his local community, school and church. In his spare time Mike likes to dabble in all things automotive.

Gery Essenmacher

Gery Essenmacher retired in 2015 after over 30 years as a UW-Madison academic staff member. Gery was the undergraduate coordinator and undergraduate advisor in the Department of Chemistry for 25 years. In these positions, he worked with countless undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, academic and university staff, as well as administrative units across campus.


Gery then served as the associate dean for student academic affairs in the College of Letters and Science overseeing staff that provided college‐level academic and career advising, diversity and academic enrichment programs, scholarship management and official academic actions for over 17,000 undergraduates in UW‐Madison’s largest college.


He also served on countless UW-Madison and UW-System committees involved with advising, SOAR planning and operation, college and campus administration, search committees and was a key part of the development of the Query Library.


After retirement, Gery has continued his involvement with the university for the past few years working with Professor Bassam Shakhashiri in science outreach to provide science presentations and hands-on and minds-on activities throughout Wisconsin, teaming with undergraduate and graduate students to help make connections between science and current societal issues for younger students and adults.


Gery enjoys trailer camping and international travel with his wife, and being a real part of the lives of his 8 grandchildren. Their favorite activity usually involves some aspect of science experimentation.

Ann Hoyt

Ann retired in 2014 after nearly 30 years as a professor in consumer science and UW-Extension. She taught retailing finance for many years and was a founder of the financial life skills courses available to all students on campus. Her extension work and research focused on consumer cooperatives, with an emphasis on governance and management particularly in food cooperatives and cooperatives in international development.
On campus, Ann chaired the Department of Consumer Science from 2011-2013 and served on the Social Sciences Divisional Committee. From 2006-2009 she was a member of the University Committee and was chair for the academic year 2008-2009. With Robert Matthew, she established the Faculty-Staff Great People Scholarship and went on to co-chair the University Foundation’s Campaign from Within Committee to raise funds for the scholarship.
Ann is an emeritus director of the UW Credit Union, a senior consultant for the Overseas Cooperative Development Council and board president of Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin.

Erik (Rick) Nordheim

Rick Nordheim retired in January 2017 after 40 years as a UW-Madison faculty member. He was a professor in the Department of Statistics throughout. He started with a joint appointment in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences where he established the CALS Statistical Consulting Facility. Later, he had a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology with the goal of improving ties between statistics and quantitative social scientists. He participated in a wide range of collaborative research with colleagues across campus in addition to conducting his own research. Rick also received campus and CALS teaching awards.


Rick served as the department chair in statistics for four years. He also served on the Biological Sciences Divisional Committee, on the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, and on many other committees. Rick was a member of Academic Planning Councils in two colleges/schools: CALS and the College of Letters & Science.


Rick is continuing his professional pursuits including teaching online and working with the UW Biocore Program on statistics education. He also uses his new scheduling flexibility to spend more time with his grandchildren.

Jean Petersen

Jean Petersen retired in 2014 after 31 years of service. Jean worked in the Genetics Department in two major capacities. For the first half of her service, she was a lab manager and research specialist in a Genetics lab studying a variety of aspects of the human immune system. Jean retired as the senior student services coordinator where she was a primary adviser for the Genetics undergraduates and graduate students and a recruiter of graduate students. She enjoyed helping the next generation of scientists be successful.
Jean is excited to join the ombuds team in providing service to the university community.
Since 1987 Jean has volunteered with the Boy Scouts. She started as den leader for her son and for many years chaired Cub Scouts summer camping programs. She currently mentors older Scouts in their leadership skills.

Former Ombuds

  • Charles (Chuck) Snowdon
  • John Dowling
  • Rosa Garner
  • Dale Burke
  • Steven (Steve) Bauman
  • Ann Burgess
  • Jo Ann Carr
  • Peg Davey
  • Ted Finman
  • Sandra (Sandy) Guthrie
  • Roger Howard
  • Christopher (Chris) Kleinhenz
  • John Mather
  • Linda Newman
  • Richard (Rich) Ralston
  • Thomas (Tom) Schaub
  • Doris Slesinger
  • Kathryn (Kay) Simmons
  • Jane Voichick
  • Patricia (Pat) Wolleat