Welcome to the University Ombuds Office!
This office has been created as a service to faculty, staff and students who have questions, concerns or complaints about University policies, procedures and practices or who may have problems or conflicts in the workplace. It provides a place where visitors can have an informal, confidential conversation with a person who is independent and neutral.
Ombuds are not part of the University administration and have no agenda other than to promote conflict management and cooperation throughout the University. We do not serve as an advocate for any individual but rather for fair and equitable treatment. Our role is to listen to you and to ask clarifying questions so that together we can create options for you to consider as possible ways to address your problem. We will take no action without your permission. Anything you tell us will be kept in confidence and not shared with anyone else without your permission.
The exceptions to confidentiality are situations in which there is a serious risk of physical harm to you or to others or when we are directed by court order or subpoena to provide information. Please be aware that email correspondence is subject to disclosure under Georgia's Open Records Act. Our conversation will be informal and will not serve as "notice" to the University. We may take notes, but those notes will be shredded upon closure of your case. No records are kept here other than general statistics that are not traceable to any individual.
What Is An Ombudsperson?
The term "ombudsman" originated in Sweden in 1809 when an official was appointed to investigate citizens' complaints against the government. The word literally means "commission man." In a number of American colleges and universities in recent years, ombudsperson, or ombuds, have been designated to assist in dispute resolution and to promote conflict management and cooperation throughout the campus community.
What We Do
Ombuds staff operate informally and independent of the formal organizational structure of the University. Professional staff in the University Ombuds office are appointed by, and report to, the President of the University. They work to resolve concerns, complaints and questions about University policies, procedures and practices.
Ombuds may make recommendations for institutional change to the President (or other administrators). They may also provide feedback with regard to trends or issues. Upon request, the Ombuds will design and conduct training programs in conflict resolution and related areas.
Ombuds staff act in a neutral, impartial and confidential manner in assisting faculty, staff and students. They are trained in accordance with the standards and ethics of the International Ombudsman Association. They serve as advocates, not for any individual, but for fairness, equitable treatment and respect throughout the University community.
Ombuds listen carefully to visitors (faculty, staff and students) in confidence. They provide advice, options, and information on University policies and procedures. They can make inquiries when appropriate and serve as referrals to other University resources.
Ombuds will facilitate communication between parties and may agree to be present in a meeting with you and another party or they may arrange for formal mediation when both parties agree. They have access to any other University office. They do maintain the confidentiality of information received.
- Serve as advocates or adjudicators.
- Make decisions about University policy.
- Compel anyone to accept recommendations.
- Subvert the usual administrative procedures.
- Get involved in any formal investigations or compliance functions.
- Take sides.
- Offer legal advice.
- Keep records of any meetings or discussions.
(All informal notes are destroyed promptly at the end of the meeting.)
Contact with the Ombuds office is not regarded as official notice to the University.
- When you do not know how to begin the process of resolving your conflict.
- When you experience an issue or concern that you are not able to resolve through the usual channels of communication at the University
- When you experience workplace issues such as:
- instructor/student issues
- faculty/staff issues
- preferential treatment
- professional misconduct
- supervisor/employee disputes
- reprisal for seeking service
Always remember that University policy provides assurance that you will not suffer reprisal for seeking the services of this office.