Ombuds - Expectations

Ombuds

Expectations about the Ombuds Role

The Faculty & Staff Ombuds role = Navigator

  • Empowers faculty and staff to engage with issues, concerns, and conflicts; provide information and identify resources to strengthen work relationships; support constructive problem solving and inform decision making
  • Surveys the university terrain; monitor trends and promote fair process
  • You decide how you want your concern handled.  The Ombuds may help you identify options but it is up to you to decide how to proceed. 

What the Faculty & Staff Ombuds does:

Responses to issues brought to the ombuds are tailored to the individual's situation and informed consent.  For example, the ombuds can:

  • Actively listen to your questions and concerns off the record
  • Explore ways to engage with and evaluate a range of options for constructive problem resolution
  • Offers issue, conflict, and negotiation coaching
  • Helps identify other University resources to address an issue/situation
  • Provides information about internal University processes
  • Shares systemic concerns to the University in a confidential manner

What the Faculty & Staff Ombuds does NOT do:

  • Serve as an agent of notice for Winthrop University
  • Participate in formal internal University investigations or other formal processes
  • Conduct investigations or determine the "guilt" or "innocence" of those accused of wrongdoing
  • Serve as an advocate or witness for any individual or group
  • Develop or alter policies and procedures
  • Offer legal advice
  • Offer mental health counseling

The Faculty & Staff Ombuds office is:

Independent
The Ombuds Office is independent, and reports to the President of Winthrop University.   The Ombuds Office does not keep records on behalf of the University nor does it participate in any administrative or formal complaint processes.  Anonymous aggregate data may be maintained and presented to members of the campus community.

Confidential
The identity of visitors, and the substance of concerns raised, will be kept confidential. The Ombuds may disclose confidential information on a limited basis, and only to the extent necessary, when, in the Ombuds’ sole discretion, failure to disclose information could result in imminent risk of serious harm, or suspected child/elder/vulnerable adult abuse or neglect. Confidential information may also be shared with the individual’s express permission, and at the discretion of the Ombuds, when appropriate to assist with informal resolution of a concern.

Informal
The Ombudsperson attempts to resolve issues on an informal basis.  Processes frequently used by the Ombuds include communication or conflict coaching and facilitation.  The Ombuds does not participate in formal adjudicative hearings. Use of the Ombuds Office is voluntary and is not a required step in any formal disciplinary process or grievance policy. The Ombuds functions informally as an off-the-record resource and not a formal reporting channel for Winthrop, except when mandated by law.

Neutral or Impartial
The Ombuds is an advocate for fairness rather than for a particular individual or group.  We have no personal interest or stake in and incur no personal gain or loss from the outcome of any disputes. The Ombuds works with all employees of Winthrop University.

Benefits

The benefits of these informal processes are that:

  • the processes are flexible;
  • individual raising the concern or complaint has greater control over the timing or pace of resolving the concern;
  • individuals involved in the dispute or conflict have greater control over the outcome;
  • creative solutions can be developed and implemented;
  • relationships can be improved; and
  • parties can be empowered in the process as they resolve the concern or complaint.

Last Updated: 4/5/21