May 11, 2021

Dear colleagues,

University Ombudsman J. Michael Chennault has announced that he plans to retire on June 30, 2021, after 35 years of service to UCI. On behalf of Chancellor Gillman and the entire UCI community, I want to thank Michael for his valued contributions over the years.

Michael started his career at UCI in 1986, first serving 13 years as an academic and health sciences advisor in the School of Biological Sciences. In this role, he helped students to prepare for careers in health sciences. He was the creator and editor of New Perspectives, a quarterly newsletter featuring scholarship information and campus resources. The highlight of the newsletter were the interviews he conducted with students, faculty and staff who shared their personal stories about the challenges they faced and how they were able to achieve their professional aspirations.

In 1999, Michael was recruited by UCI’s founding Ombudsman Ron Wilson to serve as associate ombudsman. In 2007, after a national search, Michael was named university ombudsman. In addition, to his duties as ombudsman, he was tasked with the creation, implementation and ongoing development of the basic mediation training program, in which he served as the director for 18 years. His vision for the program was to create a process for bringing together campus and medical center staff, senior management, faculty, physicians, nurses, and students, for the purpose of learning with and from each other, effective ways to stabilize, resolve and manage conflicts that arise within university and medical center culture.

During his tenure, Michael has served as an instrumental resource for helping the university navigate and resolve a range of complex matters. Under his leadership, the Office has earned and sustained the trust, respect, and confidence of the campus and the medical center communities. Michael was vigilant in building and preserving influential relationships with the community at large. He has consistently modeled fairness, respect, and empathy for all members of the UCI community and provided a safe place to voice concerns and explore options to make informed decisions.

A national search for a successor will begin immediately. Please join me in extending our warmest appreciation to Michael for his exemplary service to UCI and wishing him well in his next chapter.


Hal S. Stern, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Statistics