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Kimberly Jackson Davidson

Ombudsperson, Oberlin College and Conservatory

Focus Area: Transparency

Oberlin, Ohio
Office Representing: Ombudsperson

Kimberly Jackson Davidson serves as the ombudsperson for Oberlin College and Conservatory. In this role, she provides independent, informal, neutral, and confidential service to improve the quality of campus discourse by offering problem solving and conflict resolution services and tools to improve communications skills across campus. Prior to stepping into the role of ombudsperson at in July 2016, Davidson worked in the Office of the Dean of Students as an assistant and then as the associate dean. She served to complement the academic advising system by helping students consider the interplay between their lives outside of the classroom and their formal academic pursuits. In this role, Davidson coached students to engage in problem-solving in the face of physical and mental health challenges, guided them through academic standing challenges, and encouraged them to persist to graduation.

How did you first get interested in or involved in higher education issues?

"I first became interested in higher education issues as an undergraduate at Spelman College, an Historically Black College and University (HBCU)," Davidson said. "My experience at a historically black liberal arts college transformed my life and worldview. Though the cost of my full four years of education was less than one semester's tuition at my current place of employment, it was really beyond my family's reach financially. Somehow, we made it work. When I graduated, I was motivated to pursue a career in the higher education context to provide the same sort of support and guidance that I gained as a student coming to understand myself and my place in the world. I have remained engaged in the higher education context whether as a student or a professional since 1982. In most of my professional work, I have given time and effort to support the access of students to quality education and to connect students to resources to support their persistence to graduation."  

Why did you apply to be a part of the Forward50? What drew you to this opportunity?

"During my time at Oberlin, I have observed several shifts in campus and national culture and know that many events beyond the control of college students, administrators and faculty ultimately shape the experience of a campus community," Davidson said. "I value this opportunity to contribute to a process that may inform how future policy and legislation are crafted to address the financial needs of students and their families in a way that is fiscally responsible for all, and respectful toward those seeking the assistance. Given current trends in higher education, the presence of representation from the liberal arts arena seems vital. I also believe that it is forward thinking for the planners of this initiative to invite participation from the field of ombuds work."

Membership(s) held with other professional associations:

  • California Caucus of College and University Ombuds (CCCUO)
  • Association of Student Conduct Administration (ASCA)
  • Ombuds at Small Liberal Arts Colleges (OSLAC)
  • International Ombudsman Association (IAO)
  • Association for Conflict Resolution (ARC)
  • Organization of Ohio Ombuds
  • Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA)
  • National Academic Advising Association (NACADA)