Faculty Senate Ombudspersons are available to provide assistance to faculty members in the identification or articulation of internal disputes that arise within the University. The Ombudsperson's role is to listen to concerns arising from disputes within the University, provide resources and clarify procedural options and, as such, may facilitate a satisfactory settlement of the dispute without necessitating the filing of a grievance. The decision whether to file a grievance is, however, the prerogative of the faculty member with the concern. A list of the current Ombudspersons shall be posted on the Faculty Senate's website. Faculty members are encouraged to contact an Ombudsperson before filing a grievance. The president-elect of the Faculty Senate shall assist the faculty member in connecting with an Ombudsperson if necessary.

Click here for a list of Ombudspersons.

Reason for Engaging in the Ombuds Process

  • Conflict is an inevitable part of organizational life and can harm organizational unity when it is silenced, ignored, or denied. Not all conflict needs to be resolved through a formal grievance process, but it should be addressed for the health of the organization.   
  • Organizations reduce costs related to conflict by resolving disputes informally and helping to avoid the waste of resources, time and energy of parties in formal grievance processes and litigation.  
  • Individuals may not be aware of resources and processes within the university to address concerns.  Ombuds persons can clarify and direct people to appropriate resources.

Role and Function

The primary duties of the faculty ombudsman are to work with individuals and groups at the University to explore and assist them in determining options to help resolve conflicts, problematic issues or concerns. The Ombudsman provides confidential, informal, and impartial assistance. S/he does not advocate for individuals or groups, but rather for the principles of fairness and equity. The Ombudsman does not play a role in formal processes or conduct any investigations. The Ombudsman may bring systemic concerns to the attention of the University administration for resolution.

What does an Ombuds Do?

An Ombuds role includes:

  • Facilitates conflict resolution
  • Listens to concerns and complaints
  • Provides constituents a safe and informal space to be heard
  • Seeks answers to questions or helps find others with answers
  • Explains University policy and procedure
  • Provides information and assists in identifying options for managing or resolving concerns
  • Informally facilitates communication between individuals in conflict
  • Discusses formal options that are available

What does an Ombuds NOT Do?

  • Advocate for specific outcomes, or for individuals or groups
  • Breach confidentiality
  • Maintain official records
  • Give legal advice
  • Participate in formal grievance procedures
  • Testify in any court-initiated proceeding
  • Provide psychological counseling or therapy
  • Make binding or administrative decisions
  • Make university policy

Selection and Eligibility

The Faculty Senate Executive Committee shall appoint four faculty members who represent a diverse range of faculty to serve as Ombudspersons for four-year staggered terms. The appointments will be confirmed by a vote of the Faculty Senate.  Ombudspersons can be re-appointed when their term ends. By virtue of their prior service, those chosen to serve as Ombudspersons will possess significant knowledge of University structure and operations. Ombudspersons are expected to complete training as required by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

A person may not be in the grievance pool during the time of service as Ombudsperson. Administrators, as defined in the Faculty Senate Constitution, shall not be eligible for appointment. Administrators include but are not limited to those persons holding the title of President, Provost, Senior Vice President, Vice President, Associate Vice President, Assistant Vice President, Dean, Associate Dean, Assistant Dean, and Directors of all non-academic programs including, but not limited to, Director of the Office of Institutional Research, Director of Physical Plant, Registrar, and Director of Cooperative Education.