The faculty ombudsperson is a designated neutral or impartial dispute resolution practitioner whose major function is to provide confidential and informal assistance to University faculty and professional librarians.
The ombudsperson role has a long and honorable tradition as a means of protecting against abuse, bias, and other improper treatment or unfairness. Serving as a designated neutral, the ombudsperson is neither an advocate for any individual nor the University, but rather, an advocate for fairness who acts as a source of information and referral, aids in answering an individual’s questions, and assists in the resolution of concerns and critical situations. In considering any given instance or concern, the rights of all parties that might be involved are taken into account. The office of ombudsperson supplements, but does not replace, the University’s existing resources for conflict resolution.
The faculty ombudsperson will:
- Promote the values of fairness, equity, justice, equality of opportunity and mutual respect.
- Act as an informal resource of information, facilitate communication, review complaints and facilitate the resolution of disputes.
- Assist the parties to evaluate the overall context of the dispute, concern or problem and determine if the matter should be pursued.
- Act as a neutral agent in faculty/professional librarian disputes and informally assist to resolve concerns or problems related to academic rights, responsibilities, and working environment.
- Direct the parties to the appropriate office, department or organization, even if the ombudsperson does not become directly involved in the matter.
- Inform the individual(s) initiating the complaint or consultation of the outcome of the activities or reviews of the ombudsperson into the issue of concern and may offer advice as to an appropriate course of action.
The ombudsperson is not an avenue to officially appeal decisions made in official forums such as grievance committees or other established appellate procedures. The ombudsperson does not have the power to change any decisions, but can only advise, refer, review, and/or persuade.
The faculty ombudsperson functions within the ethical principles and standards of practice established by the National University and College Ombuds Association.
Conflict of Interest
The faculty ombudsperson may not simultaneously serve on any personnel, grievance, or tenure committee during the term of appointment as ombudsperson. The ombudsperson will avoid any issue in which there may be a conflict of interest on his/her part.
The faculty ombudsperson’s function is independent of existing administrative structures, and the ombudsperson reports directly to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
The ombudsperson does not accept notice on behalf of the University.
While maintaining confidentiality of communications, the faculty ombudsperson will prepare a periodic report to the University community. The report should include trends in the reporting of grievances and concerns and patterns or problem areas in university/college policies and practices. The report may include recommendations for revisions and improvements. The report will be submitted to the Chancellor, the Provost/VPAA, and Faculty Senate and should be available to the entire University community.
- Service as a tenured faculty member at Texas Woman’s University for a minimum of 6 years.
- Retired faculty serving under a retirement teaching option or voluntary modification of employment are eligible to serve.
- Familiar with University policies and procedures, especially those pertaining to academic issues, grievances, faculty and staff personnel, and records.
- A person of integrity with an understanding of the principles of simple justice and academic due process.
- Commands the respect of colleagues and is able to respect the private and confidential nature of issues brought to his /her attention.
Term of Appointment, Workload, Compensation
The term of appointment is two years with the provision that the person may be reappointed.
The assignment of ombudsperson duties will be a quarter-time (.25 FTE) commitment during the academic year and summer terms. The assignment will constitute a teaching load reduction, and the salary allocation for budgetary purposes will be based on the current salary of the person serving as the ombudsperson.
In the spring semester every two years, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate will solicit applications and nominations for the appointment as faculty ombudsperson. Individuals who consent to serve must submit the following materials: Complete curriculum vitae; Brief statement of background and qualifications; Brief commentary on the role of the ombudsperson.
The Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate will, in consultation with the Provost/VPAA, screen all applications and prepare a list of two to four qualified individuals for approval by the Faculty Senate. Both the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate and the Provost/VPAA must agree on the nominees submitted to the Faculty Senate.
If the Faculty Senate approves the nominees for ombudsperson, the recommendations will be forwarded to the Provost/VPAA who will appoint one of the nominees. At least two names must be submitted to the Provost/VPAA.
The term of service begins with the fall semester.
If the person serving as ombudsperson is eligible and wishes to be considered for reappointment, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, with the concurrence of the Provost/VPAA, may recommend reappointment rather than soliciting additional applications.
In the event that the ombudsperson is removed by the Provost/VPAA, a replacement will be selected using the above stated process.
Review of Performance
The Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, in consultation with the Provost/VPAA, may confer with the ombudsperson regarding performance at any time. At least once per year, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate and the Provost/VPAA will meet with the ombudsperson to evaluate performance and to identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement. The Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, in consultation with the Provost/VPAA, will provide a written assessment of the performance of the ombudsperson every two years.
In the event that the Executive Committee, in consultation with the Provost/VPAA, determines that the performance of the ombudsperson is not at the level required, they may submit a recommendation for the removal of the ombudsperson to the Provost/VPAA.
Office and Budget
The faculty ombudsperson will perform the services out of his/her current faculty office. Clerical support will be provided by the staff of the Faculty Senate. A budget will be established for: 1) travel to other TWU campuses, 2) travel to one professional ombuds meeting per year, and 3) payment of 25 percent of the ombudsperson’s salary.
References: Ombudsperson Association; University of North Texas Policy on Faculty Ombudsman