Frequently Asked Questions
Ombuds? How does that differ from an Ombudsman?
It doesn’t. Ombuds, Ombudsman, and Ombudsperson are interchangeable titles for a person employed by an organization for the purpose of providing employees with independent and neutral assistance with resolving concerns, complaints, and other issues, in a confidential and informal manner.
If the Ombuds is hired by and paid by the University, how can they be independent and neutral?
As with other organizations that employ an Ombuds, the independence and neutrality/impartiality of the Ombuds is guaranteed by the Ombuds Charter Agreement. The Charter specifies that the Ombuds reports directly to the Chancellor and operates independently of ordinary University structures. The Charter also specifies that the Ombuds will operate according to the standards of practice and code of ethics set forth by the International Ombudsman Association. These principles require that the Office is impartial, independent of other campus offices and processes, informal, and confidential.
Why did the University establish the University Ombuds’ Office?
The University of Mississippi established the Ombuds’ Office in 2015 to help the University of Mississippi Community live up to the ideals set forth in the Creed. In any organization as large, diverse, and complex as the University of Mississippi, disputes, concerns, and interpersonal conflicts are inevitable; however, the University wanted all members of the Campus Community to have an opportunity to be heard – to be able to voice concerns, resolve issues, and help improve the campus environment, without fear of retaliation, retribution, or loss of privacy.
Who may use the Ombuds?
The University Ombuds serves all faculty, staff, and graduate students at the Oxford Campus and at the satellite campuses in Tupelo and Desoto. Additionally, faculty and staff directly employed by the University of Mississippi at the Grenada Center and the Boonville Center may utilize the Ombuds.
With what kinds of issues does the Ombuds help?
Faculty, staff, and graduate students may use the Ombuds to discuss workplace issues, interpersonal conflicts, bureaucratic issues, and other problems. The University Ombuds acts in the pursuit of equity and fairness and helps members of the University of Mississippi Community identify options for resolving their issues.
Can you give some specifics?
The Ombuds can help if an employee:
- Feels they have treated unfairly, or excluded
- Has been unsuccessful in resolving a problem
- Feels bullied or intimidated
- Needs help navigating the bureaucracy or cutting through “red tape”
- Needs help facilitating a conversation or mediating a dispute
- Wants assistance providing another employee with constructive feedback
- Wants to practice having a difficult conversation
- Is having a conflict with a supervisor or coworker
- Has a question about a University Policy
- Has an ethical dilemma
- Is not sure where to turn
- Has any other Campus concern or suggestion
What doesn’t the Ombuds do?
The Ombuds does not advocate for anyone or tell anyone what they should do. The Ombuds does not provide either legal advice or counseling services. The Ombuds has no authority to make or overturn management decisions, to determine guilt or innocence, or set aside established policies.
It is also important to know that, all communication with the University Ombuds and the University Ombuds’ Office is informal and “off the record.” Neither the University Ombuds nor the University Ombuds’ Office act as an agent of “notice” for the University. Neither the University Ombuds nor the University Ombuds’ Office accept notice on behalf of the University of Mississippi.
But, I can file a grievance or make a formal complaint in your office, right?
That is incorrect. Consulting with the Ombuds will not initiate any formal complaint process; however, members of the University of Mississippi Community are welcome to meet with the Ombuds to discuss where and how to file a formal grievance or how to put the University on notice. In the alternative, members of the University of Mississippi Community are welcome to contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance (662) 915-7735, the Title IX Office, Telephone (662) 915-7045, TDD:(662) 915-1570, or the Office of General Counsel located at 209 Lyceum, Telephone (662) 915-7014, Fax (662) 915-5640 in order to provide the University with formal notice of an issue.
My issue isn’t very big, but it is important to me. Is it appropriate to bring to the Ombuds?
Whether the issue is large or small, members of the University of Mississippi Community are encouraged to come and talk with the Ombuds. Often issues are easiest to solve at the earliest stages and before they have a major impact. Even if the issue is small, others on Campus may have similar issues and the Ombuds can help find a Campus-wide resolution of the issue.
How do I make an appointment to meet with the Ombuds?
Call (662) 915-1537, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the Office of the Ombudsperson – at 318 Trent Lott Leadership Institute . If you call the office, please do not leave any confidential information in voicemail. Likewise, it is important to know that e-mail is NOT a confidential method of communication. If you choose to contact the Ombuds through e-mail, please limit communications to scheduling appointments and refrain from providing other details about your inquiry or concern.
What will happen when I meet with the Ombuds?
The Ombuds will provide a confidential and comfortable setting for talking about your issue. When you first get there, the Ombuds will review some basic information about how the Office works; you will then have an opportunity to discuss your issue. The Ombuds will listen carefully and take your issue or concern seriously. The Ombuds will then assist you with identifying your options and help you identify a strategy for reporting or finding a resolution to your issue.