The mission of the Office is to provide a confidential place for faculty, staff, and students to voice concerns, develop options, and problem-solve. The Ombuds Office supplements but does not replace or substitute for formal, investigative or appeals processes made available by the University. The office functions to assist parties in reaching mutually acceptable agreements in order to find fair and equitable resolutions to concerns that arise at the university. Use of the office is voluntary.
Through its mission, the Office helps further the University’s strategic objectives within a culture that is ethical and civil, and in which differences can be resolved and mutual understanding created through respectful dialogue and fair processes.
The Ombuds performs a variety of functions in carrying out his/her duties and responsibilities. They include: listening and providing a respectful, “safe,” and “humanized” place within the University for individuals to discuss problems; helping individuals to clarify concerns and develop options; explaining University policies and procedures; providing referrals to other offices; coaching visitors on how to help themselves; looking into problems by gathering data and the perspectives of others; engaging in shuttle diplomacy; conducting structured mediations or facilitating conversations; and other measures consistent with the mission of the Office. The Ombuds may withdraw from or decline to look into a matter if he/she believes involvement would be inappropriate for any reason.
After meeting with the Ombuds, some visitors may give permission to take an action that would reveal their identity. Others, however, may request that the Ombuds not disclose information or take any action that might risk having their identity revealed. Except in very limited circumstances, the Ombuds will disclose identifiable information or concerns raised only with the permission of the visitor to the office.
The Ombuds may take any number of steps towards responsibly addressing concerns raised. However, the Office is empowered to provide informal assistance only. Formal actions are the purview of other officers of the University, including Human Resources.
The Ombuds provides information to university officials on general trends and patterns of complaints so that problems may be prevented from escalating or recurring. However, the Ombuds will never disclose names or other identifying information of persons who visit the office, as this would violate the Ombuds’ strict adherence to the principle of confidentiality.
The Ombuds Office functions independently with respect to case handling and issue management and reports to the Offices of the President for administrative and budgetary purposes. To fulfill its functions, the Ombuds Office shall have a specific allocated budget, adequate space, and sufficient resources (e.g., computer, phone, furniture, locked file cabinets, general office supplies, professional reference books, IOA membership, printing) to meet operating needs and pursue continuing professional development.