What an ombuds does:

  • Listens to and discusses questions, concerns and complaints
  • Helps identify and evaluate options
  • Answers questions or helps find others who can
  • Explains university policies and procedures
  • Provides referrals to other available resources
  • Coaches visitors on ways to resolve problems informally
  • Advises visitors about formal and administrative options
  • Mediates disputes in ways that satisfy the interests of all parties
  • Without disclosing a visitor’s identity (unless the visitor gives permission), offers feedback about reported concerns and problems to appropriate personnel.
  • Advises officials of recurring or unresolved issues within the university
  • Identifies organization-wide problems and recommends appropriate and responsible changes
  • Promotes fair processes and their consistent implementation

What an ombuds does not do:

  • Identify who talks with the ombuds or disclose confidential information without a visitor’s permission except for rare situations (see confidentiality)
  • Take sides in a dispute
  • Make or change administrative decisions
  • Make or change policy
  • Get involved in disputes that are being formally grieved or appealed
  • Serve as witness or advocate for any individual or area within the university
  • Belong to the established "chain of command" in the university structure
  • Replace other informal channels for resolving issues
  • Replace formal grievance or appeal processes