Welcome to the University Ombudsperson in the President’s Office at Wright State University (WSU). I am pleased to serve as a resource to faculty, staff, and students to deal effectively with resolving issues on campus. In this advisory role, I will help constituents clarify university policy and procedures and navigate through any university bureaucracy, and prevent your concerns from “falling through the cracks.”
In a confidential and non-judgmental manner, I can facilitate a difficult conversation with a colleague, co-worker, supervisor, or someone you supervise or teach. Similarly, I can help think through an ethical or misconduct issue, or any other issue arising from work or studies at WSU. When necessary, I can make a referral to the appropriate person, department, or office within the university to respond to your concerns. Moreover, I identify and track trends and challenges, and make recommendations for systemic change in university policy and procedure.
I am interested in finding ways to create a campus where everyone feels they are treated fairly and respectfully. In this neutral and impartial role, I work independently to listen to the concerns of campus constituents, help evaluate different resolution options, and coach individuals through the decision-making process. If a person is considering filing a grievance, I do not serve as an advocate or take sides in disputes, but offer opportunities to informally discuss issues and provide constructive feedback. Importantly, this office does not replace, supercede, or interfere with any other university formal grievances process, investigations, or appeal procedures.
A person or group can discuss any issue with me, but typically, the discussions focus on:
- Navigating university policies and procedures
- Academic policies or disputes
- Faculty/student communication
- Enrollment issues
- Emergency assistance
- Interpersonal misunderstandings and conflicts
- Ways to make or seek an apology or discuss sensitive issues
- Promotions, evaluations, or disciplinary actions
- Questions about complaints and appeals
- Unfair or discriminatory treatment
- Incivility; harassment; fear of retaliation; threats
- Health or safety issues
- Supervisory/employee relations
- Ethical behavior; violations of university policies and procedures
- Conflicts within or between departments
- Student life
- Formal processes for resolving issues
- Other campus concerns
The University Ombudsperson can assist you by:
- Listening and providing a neutral point of contact within the university
- Explaining and abiding by the policies and procedures
- Providing initial assessment of clarifying issues and providing referrals when appropriate
- Analyzing an issue and providing options to resolve it
- Preventing an issue from escalating into a major problem
- Recommending changes in policy when appropriate
- Assisting the university in the development, implementation, and application of policies and procedures
The Scope of the University Ombudsperson: When we will help
- When you have a university-related problem and need assistance
- If you need clarification about a policy or procedure
- When you have been treated unfairly, and would like to know your options
- If you have a specific problem that cannot be solved by regular university procedures
- When you would like to talk with an impartial party concerning a university issue
The Limitations of the University Ombudsperson: When we won’t get involved
- The University Ombudsperson does not act as an advocate or represent an individual in adjudicatory disputes, including those related to sexual harassment, discrimination, Americans with Disabilities Act, OSHA regulations, or collective bargaining agreements.
- If a concern is non-university related
- The University Ombudsperson will not waive rules, laws, regulations, or require an appointing authority to change a decision, modify a policy, or modify a negotiated contract provision.
The University Ombudsperson holds all communications with those seeking assistance and all parties involved in resolving an issue in strict confidence, unless given permission to disclose information. There are no reports of a specific person or group’s visit, identity, or any other information, even if the person seeking assistance informs others of their consultation with this office. Importantly, no actions will be taken, even after a discussion of the issue, without the written consent of the person seeking assistance, unless required by law. Confidentiality is waived in cases of an imminent threat of individual or institutional harm.
This position reports directly to the President, but is independent in structure, function, and appearance, and interacts with students, faculty, and staff as a separate entity within the university organization. This office is autonomous from any other department or group on campus, and values the trust that is embedded in this position. The University Ombudsperson does not participate in, or provide information to, any internal formal proceedings or adjudicatory disputes, including those related to discrimination, sexual harassment, American with Disabilities Act, OSHA regulations, or collective bargaining agreements.
Neutrality and Impartiality
Serving in a neutral capacity, the University Ombudsperson actively listens to a person’s concerns in an objective and non-judgmental manner. Through voluntary interactions, the process focuses on resolving conflicts that produce a fair outcome for all parties concerned. The strategies used to achieve an amicable resolution may include brainstorming, coaching, facilitating difficult conversations, campus referrals, and mediation.
As an informal resource, the University Ombudsperson serves as an “off the record” resource on campus to assist with framing an issue or concern, and identify options for resolution. A visit to this office does not prevent a person from filing a grievance, if that person chooses to do so. The University Ombudsperson does not participate in any formal proceedings related to the concerns brought before them, nor is the university put on formal notice of a problem.
The University Ombudsperson adheres to the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics of the International Ombudsman Association. www.ombudsassociation.org
As the University Ombudsperson, I am committed to work with integrity, consistently with the International Ombudsman Association standards, and to being worthy of the trust placed in my role. In honoring confidentiality, I will not disclose or discuss any confidential information without the individual’s knowledge or permission. The exception is the imminent risk of serious harm.
This includes not revealing:
- the identity of individuals seeking assistance
- the identity of individuals made in the course of resolving or managing an issue
- Specific details around matters handled, even to other departments involved in the matter
- Any material relating to specific cases.
Hazel Rountree, J.D., Ph.D.
University Ombudsperson, President’s Office
Wright State University
292 University Hall
Telephone: (937) 775-3482
Fax: (937) 775-2421
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