Discover Your Island

Faculty Ombuds

What a faculty ombuds does

The role of the faculty ombuds is to listen to and discuss the university-related concerns of faculty members and librarians, and to help them address those concerns.  The faculty ombuds may help faculty deal with concerns or conflicts in various ways, including:

  • Assisting in the identification and evaluation of options
  • Providing information about relevant university policies and grievance procedures
  • Providing referrals to other campus or community resources
  • Gathering additional information
  • Engaging in “shuttle diplomacy” (if given permission by the parties involved in the conflict)
  • Conducting mediations (with the permission of those involved in the conflict) in which the parties work together to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution of the issue(s)

Some reasons faculty might contact the faculty ombuds

  • Considering filing a formal grievance, but want to try informal problem-solving first
  • Interpersonal conflict with a co-worker
  • Need an impartial, confidential sounding-board
  • Want clarification of a policy or procedure
  • Workplace environment problem
  • Concerned about being treated unfairly
  • Institutional unresponsiveness
  • Worried about job security or career advancement

Basic elements of ombuds practice

The faculty ombuds strives to adhere to the Code of Ethics and the Standards of Practice of the International Ombudsman Association, to the extent that they are not in conflict with system, state, or federal regulations.  The IOA Code and Standards identify four basic elements of ombuds practice:

Confidentiality

Interactions with the faculty ombuds are confidential: the ombuds will not disclose the content of those interactions or the fact that they have occurred, unless the visiting faculty member gives permission to reveal certain information to specific persons for the purpose of resolving a conflict.  Exceptions to ombuds confidentiality must be made when there are allegations of discrimination, sexual harassment, related retaliation, sexual violence, fraud, waste, or abuse.  Exceptions must also be made when there is imminent risk of serious harm, and where required by state or federal law.

The faculty ombuds keeps any notes relevant to a given issue under lock and key while the issue is active, and destroys the notes when the issue is no longer active.  The ombuds does not keep any records (except for statistical information that does not threaten confidentiality) and does not put the University on notice of grievances or complaints.

Informality

All interactions with the faculty ombuds are informal.  The ombuds does not participate in any formal grievance or complaint procedures.

Independence

While the faculty ombuds reports to the Faculty Senate executive committee and the Provost (providing them periodically with statistical information concerning the type and volume of issues observed, informing them about patterns among the issues, and recommending policy review or changes on the basis of those patterns when appropriate), the ombuds functions independently of all university offices, and is not a representative of any office or department.

Neutrality

The faculty ombuds acts as a neutral third party, remaining impartial in disputes or conflicts rather than taking sides or advocating for any individual, and does not make decisions or judgments in favor of or against the parties involved in a dispute.