November 27, 2023

Valerie Craigwell White Recognized for Sustained Dedication to Ombuds Profession

Ombuds Valerie White and President Holmes-Sullivan "We are so grateful to have Valerie at Lewis & Clark," President Holmes-Sullivan said. (Left to right: Ombuds Valerie Craigwell White and President Robin Holmes-Sullivan)Ombuds Valerie Craigwell White received special recognition this month at the 50th anniversary gathering of the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds, otherwise known as Cal Caucus or CCCUO.

Cal Caucus is the oldest ombuds group serving ombuds practitioners in Higher Ed, dedicated to learning from and supporting each other primarily through an annual conference.

“As the world and our campuses are turbulent in heart-breaking ways, the Ombuds Office plays a key role in helping our students, staff, faculty, and sometimes alums navigate the terrain in the ways we’re asked,” Valerie said.

Valerie joined Cal Caucus in 2008, her first year as an ombuds. “I’m a solo practitioner—an office of one—so my professional relationships really provide the support I need from time to time in doing such a unique and intense job,” Valerie said. “It helps the CCCUO learning sessions provide opportunities to discuss new things with each other and thereby deepen our learning. For me personally, it’s also helped me do deep dives into certain topics.”

Valerie’s CCCUO presentations have included topics such as:

  • Optimizing [Ombuds] Work with International and Culturally Diverse Students and Staff
  • Practice Taking Multiple Perspectives
  • Why Dignity Matters–Considering Its Influence in Thorny Dilemmas
  • Compassion in Ombuds Work
  • I Can’t Pretend it’s an Ordinary Day: The Ombuds Space in the Aftermath of a Campus Tragedy
  • The Pause that Refreshes–What to Do with Only Five Minutes Between Visitors

“Ombud’s work continues to be a special way to serve our campus, and I’m pleased I’ve been able to help my professional organization benefit from what I’ve learned from and with my colleagues and our students over the years,” Valerie said. “I deeply care about fairness, relationships with dignity and compassion, and peace, all in service of learning, and value how I can contribute my efforts here.”

CCCUO 50th Anniversary Special Recognition Valerie Craigwell White 2023 CCCUO 50th Anniversary Special Recognition Valerie Craigwell White 2023Over the years, Valerie’s contributions to the caucus have been recognized with a Service Award (renamed the Valerie Craigwell White Service Award) in 2016, and the Pete Small Ombuds of the Year Award in 2014, to acknowledge her significant contributions to the caucus and to the ombuds field.

“This year, they awarded me a special recognition they made up for the occasion: 50th Anniversary Special Recognition! I was so blown away and surprised,” Valerie said. “I appreciate that I was honored for doing a lot of work to help stabilize the organization and help make it sustainable.”