The Office of the University Faculty Ombudsperson (ombuds) provides faculty and postdoctoral fellows (postdocs) with a prompt and professional way to resolve conflicts, disputes, or complaints beyond turning to their supervisors. The office offers a confidential place to voice concerns, clarify desired outcomes, think through difficult situations, develop options, and problem-solve. Administratively, the ombuds reports directly to the Provost of the University with respect to faculty, and to the Vice-President for Research with respect to postdocs.
During the academic year 2012-13, 94 visitors (88 faculty and 6 post-docs) from 12 different colleges or schools contacted the faculty ombuds to seek help or advice on concerns involving the tenure process, denial of promotion and tenure, post-tenure review, salary/gender equity, professional conflicts, concerns regarding appropriate procedures being followed, and help having a difficult conversation. Informal mediation involved meetings with an Associate Vice President, 3 Deans/Associate Deans, 13 Departmental Chairs/Directors, and several staff of the Office of Legal Affairs. The Office has seen an increase in the number of visitors over the last 6 years from approximately 40 per year to the current number.
The majority of cases were resolved through informational mediation, counseling, and coaching, although several are still in process. An additional 13 contacts requested information only or referral to the appropriate office and no further action was needed. Ombuds-related activities averaged approximately 10 to 15 hours a week.
In addition to the above report, outreach activities included several presentations on campus regarding the purpose of the Office of the University Faculty Ombuds, brown bag seminars for postdocs, and regular meetings with the University staff ombuds and student ombuds.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
Submitted by Mary Steinhardt, University faculty ombuds for the December 9, 2013, Faculty Council meeting.
Mary A. Steinhardt, EdD, LPC
Distinguished Teaching Professor
Posted on the Faculty Council website
on December 6, 2013.