The Ohio State University established the position of faculty ombudsman in 2010 to deal with faculty concerns and complaints. According to Ohio State university rules (3335-5-45.3), the responsibilities of the faculty ombudsman include:
- Serve as an advisor to faculty to assist them in determining the viability of their complaints and issues.
- Direct faculty to appropriate offices, committees, and university rules and policies.
- Serve when appropriate as an informal mediator of early-stage complaints, to mediate as an impartial party rather than as an advocate for faculty involved in complaints.
Jack A. Rall, PhD
Department of Physiology & Cell Biology
Office: 021 Hamilton Hall
Phone: (614) 292-6137
The Ohio State faculty ombudsman operates according to the standards of practice of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA). These include:
Though the faculty ombudsman reports annually to the Faculty Council and Office of Academic Affairs, the ombudsman functions independently of all university offices, and neither represents the university administration nor any individual.
Neutrality and impartiality
The ombudsman does not take sides and remains neutral. The ombudsman is not an advocate for faculty or for the university, but rather, acts as a facilitator and is even-handed. The ombudsman does not have the power to change decisions, but can advise, refer, review, and/or persuade as a neutral and impartial agent. The ombudsman promotes fair practices and fosters integrity and timeliness in the administration of university policies and practices that affect faculty.
To the extent permitted by law, conversations with the faculty ombudsman are confidential except where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm, where harassment or other illegal activity may be involved, and where there is no other reasonable option.
Meeting with the faculty ombudsman is an informal and off-the-record process, which includes such means as: listening, providing and receiving information, identifying and reframing issues, and developing a range of responsible options. The faculty ombudsman pursues resolution of concerns and looks into procedural irregularities and/or broader systemic problems. The faculty ombudsman does not make binding decisions. The ombudsman, as an informal resource, does not participate in any university adjudicative or administrative hearing, process, or procedure related to concerns brought to his attention.
The modern use of the term began in Sweden with the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman, instituted to safeguard the rights of citizens by establishing a supervisory agency independent of the executive branch. Currently, more than 200 colleges and universities have ombudsman offices.