Syracuse University Counseling Center has named Heather Cosgrove, Ph.D., its new assistant director/training director. The position was developed as part of Invest Syracuse, a $100 million initiative designed to advance academic excellence and the student experience, and contributes to broader efforts…
Q&A: The Office of the University Ombuds
Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud announced the opening of the Office of the University Ombuds in February. Professor Emeritus Samuel Clemence is leading the office in an interim capacity until a search committee identifies a permanent ombuds later this semester. The office is located at 111 Waverly Ave., Suite 215, and is open during standard business hours. Appointments are not needed but are highly recommended to ensure adequate time to meet. Employees and graduate students may also contact the office via email or telephone at 315.443.1087.
Interested in learning more about the role of a University Ombuds on our campus? Here’s an overview of what you need to know:
01What is an ombuds?
Taken from the Swedish word “ombudsman,” which roughly translates to “representative,” the University Ombuds exists to provide fair and equitable services and guidance to staff, faculty and graduate students. Often known as an “ear to the people,” the University Ombuds is an off-the-record and neutral body, operating with confidentiality, impartiality, informality and independence. The University Ombuds is an additional resource to more fully promote a respectful and ethical campus community in line with the University’s values and policies.
02What types of services does the University Ombuds provide for faculty, staff and graduate students?
The University Ombuds listens to faculty, staff and graduate students who seek a confidential avenue for addressing complaints, conflicts or concerns. The University Ombuds listens and provides guidance in the following ways:
- listening carefully and without judgment to concerns;
- clarifying University policies and procedures;
- helping employees and graduate students explore and evaluate options on how to proceed;
- referring visitors to the appropriate University resources;
- coaching employees and graduate students on effective communication tactics and other means of de-escalating and resolving interpersonal conflicts; or
- identifying common trends and patterns of complaints and making suggestions for supporting systemic change.
While the University Ombuds has no authority to take formal action in response to complaints, it may help employees or graduate students file formal complaints by providing them with relevant information.
03Does the University Ombuds serve undergraduate students?
The Office of the University Ombuds was created to address the concerns of faculty, staff and graduate students. Undergraduates students are, therefore, encouraged to continue to avail themselves of the various existing informal and formal processes and services at the University (e.g., the Office of Student Assistance, the Counseling Center, Hendricks Chapel, Health Services, the Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion & Resolution Services) to address and resolve issues that might otherwise be handled by the University Ombuds for employees or graduate students.
04Why do we need a University Ombuds?
The University launched the office in response to recommendations of the University Senate Committee on Women’s Concerns and the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion. This resource can help to foster a positive campus climate by providing University staff, faculty and graduate students with an informal, confidential, impartial and independent resource to address interpersonal issues or questions openly and without fear of reprisal or judgment.
05Who does the University Ombuds report to and how?
The University Ombuds reports to Chancellor Syverud in a way that is independent of existing structures and operates outside of formal channels to provide full assurance of confidentiality and an additional layer of conflict-resolution resources.