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Ombuds Service Policy

A. Purpose

The Ombuds Service at SIUE provides impartial, confidential and informal resolution of disputes for faculty members and administrators. The program seeks to help those faculty or administrators with interpersonal misunderstandings as well as those concerned with more administrative or academic issues. These misunderstandings may be between two or more faculty members or between a faculty member and an administrator. The main purpose of the Ombuds Service is to mediate conflict. It will not serve to adjudicate breaches in formal administrative policies (a formal grievance procedure is in place for this purpose). As a result, the Ombuds faculty will listen, offer options and facilitate resolution to those in conflict. This will be done without preference to one party over another. Rather, the goal of the Ombuds faculty will be to mediate disputes and ensure that all party's voices are heard.

The assumptions for the Ombuds Service are as follows:

1) To recognize that conflict is an inevitable part of organizational life.

2) To recognize that conflict can harm organizational unity when it is silenced, ignored, or denied.

3) To ensure, through the services of a trained Ombuds faculty, that when conflict arises all parties, regardless of position, have an avenue for dealing with conflict.

Given the Ombuds Service is informal conflict resolution, any faculty member wishing to file a formal complaint must do so within the 90-day time frame outlined in the University's grievance policy. Using the Ombuds Service, however, does not forfeit the faculty member's right to pursue a formal grievance process. Questions regarding formal grievance procedures will be referred by the Ombuds to the Chair of the Welfare Council. Once a grievance has been filed, the Ombuds will not be involved in the formal grievance procedure.

B. Roles and Responsibilities of Ombuds Faculty

The SIUE Ombuds Service will attempt to seek informal conflict resolution between those who teach on the SIUE campuses, including full-time and part-time faculty and administrators. In those instance where one or more of the individuals involved are represented under a collective bargaining agreement, ombuds services can only be provided if it does not present a violation to the covering agreement.

In the spirit of impartiality, when appropriate, the Ombuds faculty will recuse her/himself so that the appearance of conflict-of-interest can be avoided. Active Ombuds may not serve on hearing committees for formal grievances.

Only tenured faculty can serve as an Ombuds.

The Ombuds faculty will spend time disseminating information about their services to the faculty. This will be done by visiting departments and going to new faculty orientation. The Ombuds faculty will also establish and maintain a web-page that will inform the faculty about its services.

Included in the information disseminated to faculty will be a list of activities that Ombuds faculty can do or not do. These include:

Ombuds faculty do

Provide confidentiality to all clients who seek their services

Listen and discuss issues

Seek answers to questions or help find others who can

Explain University policy and procedure

Help evaluate options

Facilitate communication between people

Mediate disputes to seek a "win-win" resolution of problems

Make appropriate referrals when informal options do not work

Discuss formal options that are available

Discuss patterns of problems/complaints to administrators and the Welfare Council

Ombuds faculty DO NOT

Participate in formal grievance procedures

Make administrative decisions

Determine guilt or innocence

Assign sanctions to people

C. Terms of Service

There will be two Ombuds faculty, for the purpose of ensuring impartiality. Each Ombuds faculty will serve a term of three years, and is eligible for reappointment to a second consecutive three-year term, after which a new Ombuds will be appointed. The two Ombuds faculty will serve staggered terms, beginning and ending their appointments in different years. If the staggered pattern of terms of appointment becomes disrupted by resignation from the position or separation from employment by the university, the Chair of the Welfare Council, in consultation with the Provost, can make a temporary appointment to fill the position for a term not exceeding the remainder of the academic year in which the vacancy took place, as well as the subsequent summer term. Before proceeding with the search for a replacement Ombuds, the Chair of the Welfare Council must consult with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee to determine whether it is appropriate to proceed under this section or section E of this policy.

D. Selection Procedure

The Welfare Council of the Faculty Senate will conduct a search for all Ombuds positions. The Welfare Council will review applications and recommend at least one name to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, then to the Faculty Senate, and finally to the Provost. The Chair of the Welfare Council, in consultation with the Provost, will select the person to serve.

Replacement Ombuds faculty will be selected within the first semester of the final term year using the following process. By the first week of September of the final year of his/her first term, each Ombuds faculty must submit a written statement that reminds the Welfare Council Chair of the completion of his/her term and that states whether she/he wishes to be considered for reappointment. If the first-term Ombuds does wish to be considered for reappointment and the Welfare Council endorses this request, the Welfare Council will seek approval from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the Faculty Senate by no later than the October Faculty Senate meeting. If the reappointment is not approved by the Welfare Council, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, or the Faculty Senate, the Chair of the Welfare Council will notify the Ombuds and the Provost in writing of the outcome and the reasons for the decision. If the reappointment is approved, the Chair of the Welfare Council will seek approval of the reappointment from the Provost within three working days after that meeting date. The Provost will have seven working days to notify the Ombuds faculty and the Chair of the Welfare Council of his/her decision.

If the first-term incumbent Ombuds does not wish to be considered for reappointment, or if a reappointment is not approved by the Welfare Council, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the Faculty Senate, or the Provost, the Welfare Council will proceed to conduct a search according to the following procedure. In November, the Welfare Council Chair must advertise the soon-to-be vacant position to the Faculty through email, campus mail, or both. Applications will be accepted until the meeting of the Welfare Council in December. At that meeting, the Welfare Council will determine how many and who to interview for its January meeting. After the interviews, the Welfare Council will seek approval for the replacement from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the Faculty Senate by no later than the February Faculty Senate meeting. It is then the Welfare Council Chair's responsibility to seek approval of the names from the Provost within three working days after that meeting date. The Provost will have seven working days to approve and notify the newly selected person and the Welfare Council Chair.

E. Selection Procedure to fill the remainder of an unexpired Ombuds term

The Welfare Council will use this procedure to conduct a search for new Ombuds if:

1) the duration of the temporary appointment discussed in section C is less than the remainder of the unexpired term for which the appointment is to take place; and

2) the Ombuds faculty resigns from this position, or is separated from their employment by the university before the expiration of the term in which the appointment took place.

Welfare Council will review applications and recommend at least one name to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, then to the Faculty Senate, and finally to the Provost. The Chair of the Welfare Council, in consultation with the Provost, will select the person to serve.

When the Ombuds faculty position needs to be filled for a duration to exceed that which is spelled out in Section C, the Welfare Council Chair must advertise the soon-to-be vacant position to the Faculty through email, campus mail, or both. Applications for the position will be accepted for a minimum of twenty working days. At its next meeting after the application deadline, the Welfare Council will determine how many and who to interview for its next meeting. After the interviews, the Welfare Council will seek approval for the replacement from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the Faculty Senate by the next scheduled Faculty Senate meeting. The Welfare Council Chair is responsible for seeking approval of the names from the Provost within three working days after that meeting date. The Provost will have seven working days to approve and notify the newly selected person and the Welfare Council Chair.

The duration of the Ombuds term who is appointed under this section will be for the unexpired portion of the term of office of the person being replaced. Any Ombudsperson who is appointed under this section is eligible to serve a second term in the position pursuant to the procedure in Section D of this policy.

F. Application for any Ombuds Position

At a minimum, a completed application for an Ombuds faculty position under Sections D and E of this policy will consist of a one-page statement of interest and a current curriculum vita. The Welfare Council shall not consider any incomplete applications for this position.

G. Compensation

To provide adequate support to the program, a maximum of one course release for each of the fall and spring semesters and one-month summer salary will be provided to each of the Ombuds faculty. If preferred by an Ombuds faculty, overload compensation will be provided.

The issue of compensation is contingent upon the amount of work required of the position. The Welfare Council through the Faculty Senate will review each year whether an adjustment in compensation is needed and its recommendation will be submitted in writing with the May report of the Welfare Council to the Faculty Senate and the Chancellor.

The Ombuds office will also receive support in the form of A) a student-worker to help with mailings and other necessary tasks and B) help in creating and maintaining a web-site.

H. Location and Office Hours

The Ombuds office will be centrally located, and will contain, at minimum, a phone and computer. Each Ombuds faculty will be available for 10 hours per week, including five devoted to regular hours in which he/she can be reached at the Ombuds office. Given the nature of Ombuds work, some weeks will involve less than ten hours devoted to the job, and some weeks more. In the summer months, the Ombuds faculty will arrange their schedules so that one Ombuds person is available at least ten hours per week the first summer session and the other is available for at least ten hours per week the second summer session.

I. Training

The Ombuds faculty will receive formal training to be funded by the University in four ways: 1) through education about the specific role of Ombuds faculty, which they will receive from the National Association of Ombuds faculty. 2) Through skills training in alternative dispute resolution offered by various national organizations. 3) Through becoming a member of UCOA (University/College Ombuds Association). 4) Through training about University policies and procedures to be coordinated by the Faculty Senate, the Office of the Chancellor, and the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

To improve the conflict resolution skills of the academic community, deans, department chairs, and other administrators will be encouraged to participate in the four methods mentioned above.

J. Reporting

The Ombuds faculty will report to the Executive Assistant to the Chancellor.

K. Evaluation of the Ombuds Service

The Ombuds faculty will write an annual report to be reviewed by the Welfare Council. The report will state exactly how many people used the Ombuds service, as well as providing some account of the conflicts involved, while maintaining the confidentiality of the clients involved by excluding names and other identifying information. The report will be due to the Welfare Council by the first week in March of each year.

The Welfare Council will also do its own evaluation of the Ombuds Service. It will send out electronic surveys annually or biannually in March asking the faculty and administrators: 1) if they sought help through the Ombuds Service. 2) If so, whether the Ombuds faculty addressed the issue in a professional and helpful way, and if the service provided was beneficial. 3) If not, what factors may have persuaded faculty members to seek conflict resolution elsewhere. In addition, the Welfare Council's evaluation will consider the appropriateness of the compensation mentioned in Section E.

Results of the Welfare Council's evaluation will be shared with the Faculty Senate and the Chancellor by no later than the May Faculty Senate meeting.

WC#02-11/12 Approved by the Faculty Senate March 1, 2012
Approved by the Chancellor June 14, 2012

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Revised and approved by Welfare Council January 2006