Dean Patrick Hobbs, who has served as dean of the Law School for the last 15 years, has recently accepted the position of ombudsman for the Office of Gov. Chris Christie.
He is not stepping down from his position at Seton Hall.
In the wake of “Bridgegate,” the closing of lanes of the George Washington Bridge that led to an investigation of Christie and his staff, investigators recommended that the governor’s office create an Office of the Ombudsman, ac- cording to Hobbs.
“It’s a unique position in the state of New Jersey; it has not existed before,” Hobbs said. “For the past 10 years, I’ve served as a commissioner for nine-and-a-half-years, chairman for two years for the State Commission of Investigation, which was formed in 1969. It is different than the ombudsman but that background is suitable preparation for that.”
Hobbs said he will be asked to play two different roles in the position.
His first responsibility will be to serve as a channel for people who want to raise concerns about ethical issues within the governor’s office.
The other role, along with the governor’s chief council, is to work alongside the new Ethics Officer, making sure all ethical rules and concerns are communicated.
“I feel honored to have been asked; it’s an important position,” Hobbs said. “It concerns the trust of the governor and the 120 people in the branch. It is an import- ant responsibility. I look at it as an opportunity to do a public service for the state New Jersey and I am committed to doing a good job.”
When asked about handling both the job as ombudsman and continuing to serve as dean of the Seton Hall Law School, Hobbs said he sees no problem handling both positions as he has been dean and serving as commissioner then chairman for the State Commission of Investigation over the last 10 years.
“I’ve been able to balance my position with that and Seton Hall Law School,” he said. “I wouldn’t have taken position if I didn’t think I could handle it,” Hobbs said.
He said that working as dean and in the State Commission of Investigation, as well as his time overseeing Seton Hall Athletics, have helped prepare him for being ombudsman.
According to Hobbs, the most important thing he’s learned is being a good communicator.
“I think it’s about communication and in all of the roles I’ve played it’s been very important to establish line of communication,” Hobbs said. “Everything I’ve done will help prepare me for that role.”
Eric Hostettler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.