DePaul University Division of Mission and Ministry > Programming & Services > Ombudsperson > What is a University Ombudsperson?

What is a University Ombudsperson?

The University Ombudsperson serves those who are unaware of existing university services or who, due to personal issues or because of the specific conflict, seek an alternative to the traditional means of communication. The University Ombudsperson becomes not an advocate for one side or the other in a dispute, but an advocate for a fair and just process. To that end:

  1. The University Ombudsperson’s office provides a “safe place” for members of the university community to express their personal concerns about institutional issues and ask questions about institutional matters. Specifically, faculty and staff are encouraged to bring forth situations within the university that they deem to be inconsistent with the university's mission and values. The University Ombudsperson provides impartial, confidential advice and information, or referrals, and seeks resolution of the issues raised.
  2. The University Ombudsperson’s office provides a “safe place” for members of the university community to gather and discuss issues or situations that they feel preclude them from fully participating in the life and mission of the university.
  3. The University Ombudsperson may provide confidential support to members of the university community who are involved in stressful situations within the university. The support is not advocacy within administrative or legal processes, but it designed to give an individual the personal support or referrals they need to deal with the specific situation.
  4. At the request of the President, the Executive Vice Presidents, a Vice President or a Dean, the University Ombudsperson may provide mediation or facilitation within an operational or academic unit to: encourage mission and values based conversation, minimize tension or seek resolution of misunderstandings or conflicts.

The University Ombudsperson provides a voluntary option for faculty and staff to seek understanding and resolution of issues that are perceived to be adversely affecting the integrity of the university’s professed values and mission. Through confidential discussions, the University Ombudsperson elicits possibilities for working out a satisfactory resolution of personal or university issues. The University Ombudsperson does not replace or supplant official channels available to all faculty and staff; rather, the University Ombudsperson offers an alternative, informal collaborative process to complement existing services.

Although issues involving students rightly are under the jurisdiction of Student Affairs, the University Ombudsperson collaborates with Student Affairs when issues raised by students involve faculty and/or staff or when issues raised by faculty and/or staff are of concern to students.

The University Ombudsperson remains neutral and impartial. To ensure confidentiality to the fullest extent permitted by law, the University Ombudsperson will not arbitrate, adjudicate, or participate in formal investigations or grievance procedures.

The University Ombudsperson does not investigate issues of sexual harassment. Faculty and staff who have questions or issues should continue to confer with the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy Office. Similarly, questions on issues of diversity should be addressed to the Senior Executive for Institutional Diversity. Faculty and staff may choose to meet with the Ombudsperson, however, to more fully understand DePaul’s policies in these and other areas and discuss all of DePaul’s resources for faculty and staff.

As part of DePaul’s Division of Mission and Ministry, the University Ombudsperson collaborates with all university departments and serves as a mission and values resource for faculty and staff.

Watch videos:
What is a University Ombudsperson?
Conflicts, workplace and diversity
Digital story