What Does the University Ombuds Do?
The Office of the University Faculty Ombuds provides a neutral, independent, informal, and confidential resource to listen to faculty concerns, facilitate the fair, equitable, and expeditious resolution of conflicts, and, when necessary, offer feedback and recommendations to senior administration for institutional change. The Ombuds can also suggest options to faculty who express concerns about possible violations of University policy. The Ombuds can advise, engage in “shuttle diplomacy,” mediate conflict, track problem areas, and make recommendations for changes to policies or procedures in support of systemic change.
The Ombuds subscribes to the International Ombuds Association (IOA) standards of practice, remaining neutral and impartial and operating informally, outside ordinary lines and staff structures. The Ombuds will not take sides or adjudicate conflicts or alleged policy violations, but will impartially consider the interests and concerns of all parties to the dispute, with the aim of facilitating communication and assisting them in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement that is fair, equitable, and consistent with University policies and the law.
The Ombuds has no management decision-making power, does not conduct or participate in a formal grievance or court proceedings, and does not accept “notice” for the University. The Ombuds typically keeps no case records and maintains absolute confidentiality unless explicit permission is given by the visitor. Confidentiality may not be maintained if required by law or court order, or unless there appears to be an imminent risk of serious harm to a person.
Another function of the Ombuds is to monitor matters arising at the University that may require the review of University policies, procedures and/or structures.
Purpose and Scope of Services
The Office is a place where members of the faculty can seek information and guidance regarding concerns and conflicts in confidence, at no cost, and at any stage in the process. The scope of the Office is limited to addressing matters directly involving University faculty.
The Office is entitled to inquire informally about any issue concerning the University that directly affects a faculty member, even without having received a specific complaint. The Ombuds will not function as a fact-finder, arbitrator or serve in the role of formal conflict mediator. Where the Ombuds thinks an investigation is appropriate, the Ombuds may ask that the Provost’s Office or another office conduct an investigation. The Ombuds may request access to information related to a faculty member’s concerns from files and offices of the University. The Ombuds serves as a resource for information, communication, and referrals, a consultant, informal mediator, and a source of recommendations for institutional change. The Ombuds provides feedback to the University administration when trends, patterns, policies, or procedures of the University generate concerns or conflicts.