About the office

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.
Lynne Olson

Lynne E. Olson, PhD
Professor Emeritus
Department of Veterinary Biosciences
Office: 101B Goss Laboratory, 1925 Coffey Rd.
E-mail (preferred): facultyombudsman@osu.edu
NOTE: Sensitive or confidential content should NOT be emailed.
Phone (alternative contact): 614-266-3664

Lynne E. Olson received the PhD in Physiology from Michigan State University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Thoracic Diseases Research at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Medicine before joining the faculty of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1983. She maintained an active research program investigating the comparative biomechanics of mammalian lungs before becoming increasingly interested in professional and ethical issues associated with biomedical research. Dr. Olson directed the Ohio State Office of Research Risks Protection and served as the university Research Integrity Officer between 1998 and 2001. She won the Faculty Award for Distinguished University Service Award in 2006 for her contributions to the development of university policies dealing with the responsible conduct of research. In addition, she represented the College of Veterinary Medicine in the University Senate, where she served as chair of the Research Committee and the Faculty Hearing Committee. In order to better understand the impact of education on the individual and organizational factors that can contribute to scientific misconduct, she took a sabbatical leave to complete an MA (Quantitative Research, Evaluation and Measurement in Education Program) in the College of Education at The Ohio State University (2005). Dr. Olson is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Veterinary Biosciences.

Principles

The Ohio State faculty ombudsman operates according to the standards of practice of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA). These include:

Independence

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.

Confidentiality

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.

Informality

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.

History

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.