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17040 -17043

DOCUMENTS AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE FACULTY COUNCIL

PROPOSAL FROM THE FACULTY GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE TO CREATE AN OFFICE OF THE FACULTY OMBUDSPERSON

Janet Staiger (Radio, Television & Film), on behalf of the Faculty Grievance Committee, has filed with the Secretary of the Faculty Council the resolution set forth below for the creation of an Office of the Faculty Ombudsperson. The Secretary has classified this resolution as minor legislation. The 10-day circulation rule for this legislation will be satisfied on March 27, 1999.

Notice is hereby given that this proposed legislation will be introduced at the Faculty Council meeting on March 22, 1999, and acted upon at the Faculty Council meeting on April 19, 1999.
<signed>

John R. Durbin, Secretary
The Faculty Council

17041-17043

PROPOSAL FROM THE FACULTY GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE TO CREATE AN OFFICE OF THE FACULTY OMBUDSPERSON

Background

It is valuable to the University for faculty to have a prompt and professional way to resolve questions, concerns and complaints beyond turning to their supervisors. The creation of the Office of the Faculty Ombudsperson would provide this service. Such an office would also ease the burden of voluntary service of the Faculty Grievance Committee which is not in a position to answer or mediate quickly many faculty questions or complaints.

For these reasons, the Faculty Grievance Committee recommends the creation of an Office of the Faculty Ombudsperson as specified in the following proposal.

Proposal

I.
 Purpose  

The Faculty Ombudsperson serves as a neutral third party providing information, counsel and mediation to Faculty (as defined in Regents' Rules Chapter 3, Section 1.8) who have University-related questions or complaints.
    II.
Scope and Duties

A.
The scope of the Faculty Ombudsperson's concern extends to all aspects of University life, both academic and nonacademic, which affect faculty.

B.
The Faculty Ombudsperson shall receive, examine, and channel complaints of faculty to appropriate University officials or University committees (including the Faculty Grievance Committee and the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity) and seek to secure expeditious and impartial redress. The Faculty Ombudsperson may decline to deal with any case which he/she considers inappropriate for the office or postpone consideration until a final decision resulting from a referral to another university entity is made.

C.
For certain complaints, the Faculty Ombudsperson may work with the Faculty Grievance Committee or the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity; however, none of the responsibilities or duties of either the Faculty Grievance Committee or the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity are altered by the creation of the Faculty Ombudsperson Office. Initiating and pursuing a formal grievance with the University will be accomplished through the Faculty Grievance Process. Initiating and pursuing an equal employment opportunity complaint will go through the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity. Faculty may always informally pursue questions and complaints through regular administrative channels as well.

D.
The effectiveness of the Faculty Ombudsperson's office will rest on its reputation for fairness, objectivity, tact, independence, and respectful concern for the welfare of all members of the University community and the well-being of the University.

E.
When investigating a complaint or grievance, the Faculty Ombudsperson shall have access to all records available to University administrators. University officials and employees involved in a case shall cooperate with the investigation in good faith and in a timely manner.

F.
The Faculty Ombudsperson shall establish simple, orderly procedures for receiving complaints and for ensuring that case records are maintained in a confidential manner.

G.
The sensitive and confidential nature of the Faculty Ombudsperson's work dictates that office operations be conducted with dignity and integrity. The Faculty Ombudsperson shall maintain the privacy of all persons who solicit his/her assistance and protect them against retribution.

H.
The Faculty Ombudsperson shall recommend to University officials procedures or policies as necessary.

I.
The Faculty Ombudsperson shall make a written annual report to the Executive Vice President and Provost and also the Faculty Council regarding the operation of the Office of the Faculty Ombudsperson. This report shall contain a general summary of the Ombudsperson's activities for the past year, along with any appropriate recommendations for new policies and procedures. In addition, the Faculty Ombudsperson shall make periodic reports to pertinent University Standing Committees when issues arise that should be addressed by those committees. Moreover, when the Faculty Ombudsperson deems it necessary, he/she shall report to the Executive Vice President and Provost or appropriate University Committee including the Faculty Grievance Committee any valid complaint for which no remedy has been found. The Faculty Ombudsperson may make any recommendations he/she deems appropriate regarding such unresolved complaints.

  III. Selection

A.
When a vacancy occurs, a screening committee composed of four faculty elected by the Faculty Council and two administrative/staff members appointed by the Executive Vice President and Provost will be created. In accordance with established personnel policies and procedures, the screening committee shall review applications for the position and interview candidates as appropriate.

B.
Only tenured faculty members already employed at the University of Texas at Austin are eligible as candidates for Ombudsperson. Additional qualifications for the position shall include evidence of an understanding of the administrative procedures of the University, strong written and oral communication skills, effective interpersonal skills, the ability to evaluate objectively the facts of a given situation, and the ability to manage the Faculty Ombudsperson's office. Additionally, candidates must demonstrate that they are able to act with fairness, objectivity, tact, independence, and respectful concern for the welfare of all members of the University community and the well-being of the University in the conduct of duties. Moreover, the sensitive and confidential nature of the Faculty Ombudsperson's work dictates that candidates be able to perform their duties with dignity and integrity.

C.
In its report to the Executive Vice President and Provost, the screening committee shall recommend, in rank order with written comments about the relative strengths of the candidates, two to four candidates for the Executive Vice President and Provost's consideration. If the Executive Vice President and Provost is unable to appoint any of the individuals recommended by the screening committee, the Executive Vice President and Provost shall ask the committee for additional nominations.

IV. Structure and Organization

A.
The Faculty Ombudsperson's office shall be funded by the University.

B.
The Faculty Ombudsperson shall be appointed by and report directly to the Executive Vice President and Provost of the University.

C.
The Executive Vice President and Provost may refer the Faculty Ombudsperson to one or more other University offices for day-to-day assistance with accounting procedures, personnel matters and so forth.

D.
The Faculty Ombudsperson shall be appointed by the Executive Vice President and Provost for a two-year, renewable term.

E.
The Faculty Ombudsperson shall be appointed up to one-half time, 12-month 1000 code (non-academic employee) and shall receive one course release during the fall and spring semesters. The Faculty Ombudsperson shall maintain posted office hours during University working days.

F.
In accordance with University personnel policies, the Faculty Ombudsperson may employ staff as necessary to fulfill the purpose of the office.

G.
The University shall provide appropriate and convenient space for the Faculty Ombudsperson's office.