Frequently Asked Questions


What is an Ombuds?
An Ombuds is a neutral party who provides confidential, neutral, and informal assistance in resolving conflicts or disputes or addressing issues or concerns.

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Who are the UA Ombuds?
The Ombuds Program Director serves as the University Ombuds and is supported by the Ombuds Program Committee, for which she provides professional oversight and training. The Ombuds Program Committee is a network of trained individuals from all areas of campus who are committed to effective dispute resolution and are willing to volunteer their time to assist the campus community with conflicts and other issues, concerns, or difficulties. The committee members are appointed to serve on the committee in addition to their regular duties on campus. All UA Ombuds practice in accordance with the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA).

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What is the purpose of the Ombuds Program?

The Ombuds Program was established to create an alternative and informal resource for conflict resolution on the University of Arizona campus. It does not replace other means of resolving conflicts or solving problems.  It is an informal, neutral, confidential and independent resource for all members of the campus community. The Ombuds Program helps students and employees manage conflict and address concerns effectively by providing information, generating options for problem solving, providing mediation and training, and other services.

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Who does the Ombuds Program serve?
The Ombuds Program serves students, classified staff, appointed personnel, administrators, faculty, parents or members of the public dealing with the University.

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How do I contact an Ombuds?
You can contact the Director by phone at (520) 626-5589. The Director can assist you or connect you to an Ombuds Program Committee Member.

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What can the Ombuds do to assist me? 

  • Listen and act as a sounding board
  • Provide a safe and confidential space for talking through a situation
  • Assist in identifying issues and analyzing the situation
  • Help to identify and evaluate options for addressing the situation in a constructive and effective way
  • Clarify University policies, procedures, and practices
  • Provide consultation and coaching on effective communication and conflict resolution strategies
  • Facilitate communication between individuals or groups involved in a conflict or other difficulty
  • Provide informal mediation
  • Prevent negative conflict through early intervention
  • Assist the visitor in accessing appropriate individuals
  • Gather information pertinent to the situation (such as information about applicable policies, procedures, and practices) in a confidential and anonymous manner
  • Provide information about other resources and services that may be helpful, including information about formal grievance processes and other student and employee assistance programs
  • And more (see Services page and/or contact us for more information)

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Can the Ombuds give me legal advice?
No, Ombuds do not provide legal advice or other legal services.

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Will the Ombuds be my advocate and represent me?
The Ombuds are neutral, impartial third parties. We do not advocate for either side and as such do not act as representatives for any visitor. We strive for fairness and facilitate communication to help people reach mutually satisfactory agreements.

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Are all conversations with an Ombuds confidential?

Confidentiality is a fundamental element of the Ombuds Program. As such, the Ombuds Program is not authorized to accept notice of allegations of violations of law and it treats all communications as strictly confidential to the maximum extent permitted by law, unless, in the discretion of the Ombuds, failure to disclose information would create an imminent risk of serious harm. No employee or other University constituent can compel the Ombuds to disclose information and the Ombuds will resist participating in formal processes such as trials or administrative procedures.

By electing to utilize the voluntary, confidential, impartial, independent, and informal services offered by the UA Ombuds Program, visitors agree to never seek to compel the Ombuds to disclose any information received as part of providing Ombuds services in any other forum, including a formal grievance or lawsuit. In addition, if the Ombuds Program utilizes mediation, facilitation, or another group process in serving the visitors, by electing to participate in the mediation, facilitation, or group process the visitors agree (to the extent permitted by law) to: (i) keep any and all communications that take place in the process confidential unless all parties agree otherwise, (ii) waive any right they may have to use communications that take place in the process in any formal grievance or lawsuit, and (iii) participate in good faith towards a mutually satisfactory outcome.

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How is the Ombuds different than going to my supervisor, Human Resources, or the Office of Institutional Equity?
Line management, Human Resources, the Office of Institutional Equity and internal audit procedures are formal channels. They are offices of record that conduct formal investigations, make written findings, recommendations, decisions, and set policies.

If you want to initiate a formal complaint, or you wish to have your concerns documented, you must go through a formal channel. If you want to have a confidential, off-the-record conversation with a neutral party, contact the Ombuds.

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To whom do the Ombuds report?
The Ombuds Program functions independently. Statistical information is reported to the University administration in an annual report to help identify trouble spots or policies and procedures that need updating or improvement. No confidential or identifying information is included in the statistics or the report. The Ombuds may make recommendations for procedural changes, but cannot change decisions. The Ombuds Program Committee Members report to the Ombuds Program Director in their capacity as Ombuds.

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What if the informal process doesn't work?
You are not precluded from pursuing formal remedies, and the Ombuds will inform you of your formal options.

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What are some of the benefits of speaking with an Ombuds?
There are numerous benefits of speaking with an Ombuds, including but not limited to:

  • Sometimes, people just need someone to listen. We provide a compassionate, listening ear.
  • You choose the path of resolution
  • No one will know you spoke to an Ombuds - we are strictly confidential (please see above for exceptions to confidentiality)
  • We are objective and impartial, and can help you to think through the situation clearly and see things from multiple perspectives
  • We can help you to effectively prevent, address, manage, and resolve a variety of issues, difficulties, and conflicts
  • Our visitors report that speaking with us provides such things as stress-relief, clarity, insight, helpful tools/skills, improved sleep, and hope
  • Our visitors also report that our services helped to improve relationships, workplace climate, and effectiveness
  • We are knowledgable about campus resources and can help you connect with other resources

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What are some examples of situations brought to an Ombuds?

  • Communication breakdowns with professors, advisors, students, or others
  • Employment issues that could affect relationships and success
  • Fear of confrontation
  • Personality conflicts that may affect employment or class grade
  • Student disagreements
  • Supervisor-employee relations
  • Difficulties with peers/colleagues/co-workers
  • Diversity related concerns
  • Trust issues
  • Accessibility concerns
  • Issues arising during change management
  • Issues related to intellectual property rights
  • Concerns regarding working conditions (safety, work-life balance, etc.)
  • Communication concerns (style, quality, quantity of communication)
  • Concerns about workplace/departmental/organizational climate
  • Compliance related concerns
  • Challenges related to values, beliefs, or priorities
  • Concerns regarding equity, fairness, and respect
  • Concerns about career progression, compensation, job classification, performance appraisals, termination/non-renewal, etc.
  • Harassment concerns
  • Parent concerns about their child's success or experience as a UA student
  • Confusion or issues with refunds, admissions, residency
  • Concerns about abuse or waste of organizational resources
  • Understanding policies, procedures, etc.

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