The Ombuds Office can help you address your concerns and challenges in an effective and constructive manner through consultation, coaching, and providing an objective, neutral view of the situation.
An Ombuds is a neutral party who provides confidential, impartial, and informal assistance in resolving conflicts or addressing issues and concerns.
All of these terms relate to the same function/role, as described above. We choose to use Ombuds for its gender neutral and concise nature.
The Ombuds Office serves all levels of UA faculty, staff, and students in all UA units and colleges who have a university-related concern.
Our services are available to all UA units and colleges, regardless of location. This includes UA North Campus, UA South, all Arizona Health Sciences units (including the College of Medicine - Phoenix, College of Nursing - Phoenix, and other Phoenix campuses), all cooperative extension units, and others.
We do not provide services to parents or families of UA Students. However, if you have an issue, we encourage you to ask your child/student to reach out to us directly for support and assistance.
The Faculty Ombuds at the Phoenix College of Medicine is not affiliated with the overall University Ombuds Office. However, the Ombuds Office services are available to all UA units and colleges, including both colleges of medicine.
All communications, and the identities of all visitors, are strictly confidential. We will not inform your supervisor, professor, colleague, or anyone else that you have talked with an Ombuds unless we have your request or permission to do so. If your situation involves an imminent risk of serious harm or an instance of campus violence under the Clery Act, we will need to report that to the appropriate person/resource.
Not at all. The Ombuds Office is an informal resource and does not engage in disciplinary processes. Some concerns/issues brought to the Ombuds Office are addressed – at the request of the visitor(s) – through communications with others involved in the situation, by sharing information with individuals who have authority or influence on the matter, or by gathering information from individuals who have knowledge about a relevant policy/procedure/practice/etc. If we have contacted you, it may be that we were requested to apprise you of a concern/issue, involve you in communications to resolve an issue, or gather information pertinent to the understanding and resolution of a situation.
Confidentiality is a fundamental element of the Ombuds Office. As such, the Ombuds Office is not authorized to accept notice of allegations of violations of law or other formal complaints. The Ombuds Office treats all communications, and the identities of all visitors, 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 may compel the Ombuds Office to disclose information.
By electing to utilize the voluntary, confidential, impartial, independent, and informal services offered by the UA Ombuds Office, 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 Office utilizes facilitation, 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.
As an informal resource, the Ombuds Office does not engage in formal processes and is not an office of notice for allegations of violations of law or other formal complaints. We can provide information about formal complaint processes and help connect you to them at your request.
We keep no case files. Most everything is destroyed upon closure of your issue. According to law, emails need to be retained for a period of time, and therefore, we try to limit use of emails for communicating with you except to schedule meetings with you. We therefore strongly encourage you to limit email communications except for your first one. If you have questions, we will talk to you more about this when we meet with you.
We do keep general non-identifying statistical information to identify and track trends, and we can inform administration or other appropriate individuals/units of areas of concern while maintaining the confidentiality and anonymity of visitors.
Due to our informal and impartial role we do not advocate for or represent any individual or group, nor do we accompany visitors in meetings or proceedings or attend meetings/proceedings as a neutral witness. We can, however, provide consultation and coaching on effective communication and conflict management strategies as you prepare for the meeting, and/or provide confidential and informal facilitation at the meeting if all parties agree.
The Ombuds Office does not provide legal advice or other legal services.
The Ombuds Office does not provide mental health counseling, but we can suggest resources if you need such services or help.
Our level of confidentiality, informality, impartiality, and independence, and our ability to work on many levels within the university distinguish our role form other resources. The Ombuds Office can help you work through a wide variety of issues, concerns, questions, conflicts, and challenges. We help with situations from small and simple to large and complex.
Line management, Human Resources, the Office of Institutional Equity, and internal audit procedures are, for the most part, formal channels. They are offices of record that conduct formal investigations, make written findings, recommendations, and 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 Office. If you aren’t sure where to start, feel free to contact us, and we can help you explore your options and connect to resources.
The Chair is appointed by the Provost and reports to the Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion. Further, in accordance with our ethical standards, Ombuds only provide to University leadership non-identifying statistical information and trends, which help to inform positive change efforts including improvements to university policies and practices.
The Ombuds Office provides services as an alternative to formal processes. In general, it is necessary to suspend any formal processes that are in motion in order to pursue informal processes through the Ombuds Office. If you are pursuing some issues formally and would like to address separate issues informally through the Ombuds Office please feel free to contact us. Depending on the situation, we may be able to assist you while the formal process on separate issues is in motion, or we may need to wait until that process has completed.
There are numerous benefits of speaking with an Ombuds, including but not limited to:
- Our level of confidentiality. We will not disclose that you talked with us unless you give us your explicit request/permission to do so, it involves a situation of campus violence under the Clery Act, or if there is a situation of imminent risk of serious harm.
- We are objective and impartial, and can help you to think through the situation clearly and see things from multiple perspective
- You choose the path of resolution
- We can help you to effectively prevent, address, manage, and resolve a variety of issues, difficulties, and conflicts
- We are knowledgeable about campus resources and can help you connect with other resources
- Sometimes, people just need someone to listen. We provide a compassionate, listening ear.
- 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 that do not fall in the category of matters that we cannot hear
- Harassment concerns
- Confusion or issues with refunds, financial aid, admissions, residency
- Concerns about abuse or waste of organizational resources
- Questions about policies, procedures, etc.