Sarah Klaper has been named as Northwestern University’s first Ombudsperson, Provost Kathleen Hagerty announced today. She was hired following a national search and will start on Aug. 1.
The Ombudsperson acts as a neutral, independent, impartial and confidential resource for faculty, staff and students on all three Northwestern campuses: Evanston, Chicago and Doha, Qatar. The Ombudsperson will offer assistance on a broad array of issues, including academic and work-related concerns.
“I am delighted to welcome Sarah Klaper to Northwestern,” Hagerty said. “Our community identified a need for an impartial, confidential resource, and I am confident that Sarah has the experience and temperament to make an immediate impact on campus.”
Klaper comes to Northwestern from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., where she served for nine years as the University Ombudsperson. In that role, she provided conflict prevention and resolution, coaching and strategic thinking to the campus community. Additionally, she modernized, reformed and rebuilt the ombuds program to be a proactive office focused on healthy work and education environments, transparency, communication and equity.
“I am truly excited to join Northwestern as its first university ombudsperson. Through the creation of this office, Provost Hagerty and the university community are furthering a commitment to both the people and the work of Northwestern,” Klaper said. “Sometimes the university environment can be a complex place. I look forward to building the relationships that are at the heart of the Office of the Ombudsperson in order to help students, faculty and staff navigate through those complexities.”
The Ombudsperson — who reports directly to the Provost — will be responsible for establishing the Office of the Ombudsperson and providing leadership, vision and strategic planning in support of the University’s long‐term goals and objectives.
Northwestern’s Faculty Senate and many members of the Northwestern community provided their input on the position and examined the potential for this campus resource. Groups including the Provost’s Advisory Council for Women Faculty, leaders of the Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council, the Associated Student Government and the Graduate Leadership and Advisory Council also provided input.
Prior to her role at Northern Illinois University, Klaper was an instructor at the DePaul University College of Law, where she taught legal analysis, primarily focused on education and government. Klaper's scholarship has focused on open government issues concerning citizen participation, the First Amendment, the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and open meetings laws.
Celina Flowers, assistant provost for faculty and the chair of the search committee, said the committee was pleased with the caliber and quality of the candidate pool.
“The committee was especially impressed by Sarah’s deep understanding of the role of a university ombudsperson, her articulation of thoughtful strategies to deal with different types of hypothetical situations, and her confidence in the principles of organizational ombuds work,” Flowers said.
Klaper began her career as an attorney in general civil law practice at Southeastern Ohio Legal Services before going into solo family law practice. She served as a community lawyer for the Citizen Advocacy Center in Elmhurst, Ill., where she provided legal assistance and advocacy to citizens and organizations.
She earned her bachelor of science in communication from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and she earned her juris doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College Of Law.