Frequently Asked Questions
An Ombuds is a neutral party who provides confidential, impartial, and informal assistance in resolving conflicts or addressing issues and concerns. For more information about Ombuds please peruse our website. Further information is also available on the International Ombudsman Association’s page What is an Organizational Ombudsman?
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 employees and students, in all UA units and colleges, as well as other individuals 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 serve parents/family of UA students when they have a concern, question, etc. related to the student, or some other university-related concern. The information we can provide about students is limited based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
We provide services to other individuals who have a university-related concern. This can include parents/family of UA students, partners/family of UA employees, prospective students or employees, former students or employees, patients of the medical centers, university neighbors, and others. If you have a university-related concern please feel free to contact us. If we can’t help you directly we can connect you with other helpful resources.
The Ombuds at the colleges of medicine are not currently affiliated with the Ombuds Office. Ombuds Office services are available to all UA units and colleges, including both colleges of medicine. This includes all levels of students and employees, as well as others who may have a university-related concern (patients, etc.). Please feel free to contact us.
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 we will need to report that to the appropriate person/resource.
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 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.
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.
As an informal, off-the-record resource, the Ombuds Office does not keep records and is not an office of notice for allegations of violations of law or other formal complaints. Any and all notes, identifying information, and/or other written communications gathered in working on a case are shredded after the case is closed. 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. Human Resources, the Office of Institutional Equity, and the Dean of Students Office engage in formal processes and are appropriate offices to contact for establishing a record or otherwise having your concern formally documented and/or investigated. If you want the Ombuds Office to be aware of your situation so that we can include it in our analysis of trends, or are interested in other Ombuds Office services available for addressing your concerns, please contact us.
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 mediation/facilitation at the meeting if all parties are in agreement.
The Ombuds Office does not provide legal advice or other legal services.
The Ombuds Office can help you address your concerns and challenges in an effective and constructive manner through consultation, coaching, mediation/facilitation, training, and organizational development. Related to our assistance, visitors report decreased stress, improved sleep, improved workplace relationships, improved morale, improved focus and productivity, increased skills and confidence in handling conflict and other difficulties, and more. Please visit our Overview page and our Ombuds Office Services page to learn more about how we can help. Please also feel free to contact us and we can discuss how we can help with your specific situation.
Our level of confidentiality, informality, impartiality, and independence; our services; our approach; 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, and work on the individual, group, departmental, organizational, and systemic levels. We provide consultation, coaching, mediation/facilitation, training, and organizational development. In addition, we have a library of books available for check out on topics related to effective communication, collaboration, and conflict management. We can assist you with difficulties between supervisors and employees, challenges with colleagues, workplace climate issues, career progression concerns, and much more. Please see our Overview page and Ombuds Office Services pages for more information on how we can help.
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. Human Resources also offers informal services, including Employee Advising, Life & Work Connections, and Professional Development. 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.
Our level of confidentiality, informality, impartiality, and independence; our services; our approach; 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, and work on the individual, group, departmental, organizational, and systemic levels. We provide consultation, coaching, mediation/facilitation, and training. In addition, we have a library of books available for check out on topics related to effective communication, collaboration, and conflict management. We can assist you with difficulties with professors, advisors, supervisors, peers/classmates/co-workers, student groups/organizations, campus service providers, and more.
There are many other helpful resources for students as well. S.O.S. can help answer questions that you have and the Dean of Students Office has a variety of programs and services to help you with concerns, including student assistance, student conduct concerns, bias reporting, and information on Title IX policies, reporting, and resources. The Dean of Students Office administers formal processes and their Student Assistance office provides mediation and conflict coaching. Student Affairs and Student Success have a variety of other programs and services as well, including Campus Health and Inclusion & Multicultural Affairs. The ASUA has a number of programs, including Student Legal Services. The Graudate Centerand Graduate College websites list many resources available to graduate students. Please see our Campus Resources page for more information on student resources. 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 Ombuds Office is structurally located in the Office of the Provost. While the Director of the Office of the Ombuds reports to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, the office functions independently of university administration. In accordance with Ombuds ethics and standards of practice, only non-identifying statistical information and trends are reported, 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. There are certain services (mediation, facilitation) that the Ombuds Office will not provide if there is an unsuspended formal process in motion. Other services, such as one-on-one consultation and coaching, may be provided depending on the situation, at the discretion of the Ombuds. 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, 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
- Our visitors report that speaking with us provides many benefits, such 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
- 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, 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, financial aid, admissions, residency
- Concerns about abuse or waste of organizational resources
- Questions about policies, procedures, etc.