What is an Ombuds?
The term “ombuds” is drawn from the abbreviated and gender neutral term “ombudsman”, a historic term originating in Scandinavia in the 19th century that was used for public officials who were appointed to investigate citizen complaints against governmental agencies.
Today the term ombuds is used more broadly to identify “designated-neutrals” within organizations, as well as within government bodies. Ombuds provide confidential, impartial and informal assistance to individuals and groups to help prevent problems from arising and to facilitate fair and respectful resolution of problems that do arise.
Ombuds do not advocate on behalf of specific individuals or their concerns and they cannot change or reverse decisions; however they do advocate for respectful, fair and equitable treatment. Ombuds serve as information and referral resources, facilitate communication between individuals and among groups. They offer conflict coaching aimed at helping individuals to better manage their own disputes and provide dispute resolution services, such as mediation.
The Ombuds Office also recommends constructive changes to university policies and procedures by providing anonymous feedback on systemic issues that promote clarity and fairness.