Twenty years ago, Frank Fowlie was a young police officer driving in from the Radville, Saskatchewan RCMP detachment to attend night classes at the University of Regina.
Today, Fowlie is the inaugural Ombudsman for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a job that he has held since November 2004 and that makes him the first-ever online ombudsman.
He is a pioneer in the field of online dispute resolution, a member of the United Nations expert working group on online dispute resolution and a Fellow at the National Centre for Technology and Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is also considered to be one of the world’s leading experts in evaluation of ombudsman operations.
Fowlie is this year’s recipient of the U of R Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an individual who, over the course of a lifetime, has distinguished himself or herself on a regional, national or international basis in any field of endeavour.
Fowlie says his Bachelor of Human Justice he earned from the University of Regina in 1992 was an unusual academic credential at the time and opened many doors for him. In particular, he feels it helped him attain a position as policing advisor to the British Columbia (BC) Attorney General, which led to work in the BC Ombudsman office, which eventually led to the job he holds today.
“An important lesson I carry forward from the U of R is the personal understanding that I could undertake studies as an adult learner, that it was possible to balance work life, home life, community life and still make room for academics,” he says. “Those lessons helped me to complete my masters, and my doctorate.”
Fowlie went on to earn a Master of Arts in Conflict Analysis and Management from Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia, where he has been an associate faculty member. He earned his Doctorate of Conflict Resolution from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. He also trained as a negotiation instructor at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
Among the many roles he has filled during his career, he has worked as Senior Advisor for the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Dili, East Timor, when it achieved independence from Indonesia. While in East Timor, he was named the United Nations Olympic Games Officer and helped the young nation organize a team to participate in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
He was recently awarded the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal in recognition of his contribution to world peace while serving with the United Nations in East Timor.
Fowlie says receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award is a great honor and a complete surprise but he is delighted to have the opportunity to return to the University of Regina, which he remembers as a warm, friendly learning community where he made lasting friendships.