The Student Ombudsperson Selection Committee chose Dr. Kimathi Choma, assistant dean of diversity, recruitment and retention and diversity point person for the College of Arts and Sciences, to serve as the new Kansas State student ombudsperson.
Choma graduated from K-State and has worked at his alma mater for over 15 years. He has filled many roles at the school throughout that time, but Choma said he is excited about adding this new responsibility. Choma will serve as the student ombudsperson while continuing in his other positions.
An ombudsperson is someone students can contact and express their concerns to whenever situations arise. Ombudspeople address student concerns of equity, harassment and discrimination. As the ombudsperson, Choma will be an impartial person, while still providing a safe space for students to talk and get resources for the help they need. He will provide a professional experience that provides support for any concerns a student might have.
“I am excited about this role because students will understand the good resources that are here at Kansas State and will get them the help that they need,” Choma said. “I see it from the vantage point of helping students be retained here at K-State.”
Choma said he’s known for retention, and how, no matter the student or situation, he always wants to make students feel welcomed and stay on track to get a degree from K-State, and that it was part of why he was chosen for this role.
“It really hurts my heart, in a sense, when students come to Kansas State University and be retained for three or four years and then not graduate,” Choma said. “This is another way that I can assist students in the graduation effort. Not just at the college level, but at the university level.”
The university created the position of student ombudsperson to meet the first goal of the 11-step Action Plan for a More Inclusive K-State.
Bryan Samuel, chief diversity and inclusion officer at K-State, served on the selection committee that chose Choma.
Samuel said it was important to get this position established so students did not have to go to multiple different places just to talk to someone about their issues.
“Dr. Choma has an unsurpassed passion for taking care of students and making sure students are introduced to the appropriate resources and get what they need to be successful,” Samuel said.
Previously, K-State had three ombudspersons: two at the Manhattan campus and one at the Polytechnic campus. However, all three only serve faculty and unclassified professionals, including administrators. Choma will serve students specifically.
Trumanue Lindsey Jr., director of diversity and multicultural student life and member of the search committee, has worked with Choma before and said Choma already does great work for students.
“Dr. Choma has been here quite a while,” Lindsey said. “He knows the ends and outs of the campus and does tremendous work while working with students. He is a very huge advocate and is very resourceful.”
Stefan Yates, special assistant to the chief diversity and inclusion officer, also had high praise for Choma and the work that he does.
“Dr. Choma has a passion for working with and helping students, and it is very evident in everything that he does,” Yates said.
The ombudsperson role that Choma filled was first on the list of nine action step goals that President Richard Myers planned for a more inclusive K-State. The entire action plan can be found online.