IN THE SPOTLIGHT
People Behind the Scenes
Who keeps our university in top shape? It's the People Behind the Scenes! Meet Tom Sebok, director of the Ombuds Office.
What is one thing you would like people to know about the work you do?
My work in the Ombuds Office involves confidentially and informally assisting students, staff, faculty and administrators in managing and resolving interpersonal, academic or administrative conflicts. I also present or co-present a variety of conflict-related workshops to help members of the university community learn skills for managing and resolving conflict. As director of the Ombuds Office I supervise a terrific staff including an associate ombuds (Donna Louden), two faculty ombuds (Bob Fink and Lee Potts), and an administrative assistant (Melinda Canino). While the work can, of course, be very challenging, it can also be enormously rewarding to successfully mediate disputes or help empower people to resolve confusing or difficult issues, questions or concerns.
What do you like best about being a part of the CU community?
I like having the opportunity to know and work with so many diverse and interesting people in such a stimulating environment as the University of Colorado at Boulder. There are many different subcultures here and my role probably allows me to meet a wider range of people from more groups than almost anyone else on campus. I left a small community college in Maryland to come to the university in September of 1990, and in my first year the CU football team won the national championship. The college where I previously worked didn’t even have a team. Since then, members of the CU community have won Nobel Prizes, MacArthur Fellowships and Grammy awards; made countless contributions to the space program; made scientific breakthroughs; and influenced public policy. How many people get to be part of a single community where all those things can and do happen regularly? I feel pretty lucky.
What is your favorite activity/interest outside of work?
I play guitar and even earned my living as a musician for a while in the late 1970s in New Hampshire. For most of the 1980s, I performed part time in bands or played solo in addition to working at my "day job" as a counselor. These days, I love writing and recording music in my home studio.
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