2012 – 2013 Annual Report

ANNUAL REPORT
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY FACULTY OMBUDSMAN
2012 – 2013

This is the third annual report and it covers the period from July 1, 2012 through August 31, 2013. The duties of the faculty ombudsman are defined in university rule 3335-5-45.3 and include: (1) helping faculty assess viability of complaints and issues, (2) directing faculty to appropriate offices, committees, university rules and policies and (3) where appropriate serving as an informal mediator for early-state complaints. 

The faculty ombudsman is a member of the International Ombudsman Association and as such operates according to the principles of that association.  These principles are: (1) Independence- the faculty ombudsman is not an advocate for the administration or any individual faculty member, (2) Impartiality: the faculty ombudsman remains neutral in all interactions, (3) Confidentiality: interactions with the faculty ombudsman are confidential to the extent permitted by law. The faculty ombudsman’s notes are not subject to open records requests. (4) Informality: interactions with the faculty ombudsman are informal wherein the faculty ombudsman listens to a person’s concerns and suggests various approaches to resolving the issues.  For more information about these operating principles, see the faculty ombudsman webpage at ombudsman.osu.edu.

During the past year, the faculty ombudsman became an emeritus professor and according to Ohio law was not able to perform university business for two months (July and August, 2012). During this period professor Tim Gerber, secretary of the university senate, assumed the duties of the faculty ombudsman. This interim period is included in the 2012 – 2013 annual report which covers fourteen months instead of the usual twelve months.  During July and August of 2012, the acting faculty ombudsman interacted with six faculty. From September 1, 2012 through August 31, 2013, the faculty ombudsman had a total of seventy five interactions with forty OSU faculty or groups of faculty who sought advice or information. The faculty came from twenty nine different units across the Columbus campus and from two OSU regional campuses. The faculty ranged in rank from lecturer to full professor.  Most of the interactions were one-time interactions but some have been on-going throughout the year and over multiple years.

Some of the issues that were discussed with faculty this past year included: 

  • Conflict with chair/supervisor
    • Academic freedom
    • Annual evaluation
    • Contract dispute
    • Research space
    • Re-hire issue
    • Salary reduction issue
    • Spousal hire agreement
    • Teaching assignment
    • Teaching evaluation
  • College issues
    • Research appointment
    • Workload policy
  • Conflict with a colleague
    • Colleague abuse
    • Research collaborator disagreement
  • Promotion/tenure issues
    • Negative fourth year review
    • Negative sixth year review
  • University policies and procedures
    • Benefits appeal: vacation buyout
  • Information requests related to
    • Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility
    • Hearing committee procedures
    • University rules: Complaints against faculty (04 process)
    • Office of Academic Affairs policies and procedures
    • Ombudsman position from other universities
    • Research misconduct

The faculty ombudsman is stepping down from the position in mid September of 2013. I would like to thank professors Tim Gerber, secretary of the university senate, and Susan Williams, associate provost for academic affairs, for their support and belief in the position of faculty ombudsman. Professor emeritus Nancy Rogers, College of Law, once again has served as an advisor to the faculty ombudsman and her enthusiastic support for the position is greatly appreciated. Finally I would like to express my respect for the over 130 colleagues who have sought the advice of the faculty ombudsman over the past three years. They have been proactive in seeking solutions to issues and that is an admirable quality.  They have broadened my view of the university and deepened my respect for the OSU faculty.

Jack A. Rall, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor
OSU faculty ombudsman