What does the Ombuds Program do?

The University of Oregon Ombuds Program provides confidential, impartial, independent, and informal conflict management assistance to the University of Oregon community at no charge.  The Ombuds Program works with individual visitors and with groups.  In addition, the Ombuds Program provides customizable workshops for campus conferences, team meetings, department retreats, or other university events.  Finally, the Ombuds Program provides non-identifying feedback to university leadership on trends and concerns in the community. 

Individual visits

You may schedule an appointment with the ombudsperson by phone (541-346-6400) or by email (ombuds@uoregon.edu).  If you schedule the appointment over email, please do not include any confidential information. 

People visit the ombudsperson for many reasons.  They may want to have a confidential conversation with someone who has an impartial perspective and no organizational allegiance to any university department, for example.  Or they might like help thinking through (or practicing) a non-escalating approach for dealing directly with an issue.  Or they may be uncertain about taking a matter through other university channels because of reporting or other concerns. 

Whatever your reason for visiting, the ombudsperson will not tell you what to do and will not take action against your wishes.  Rather, the ombudsperson will talk you through strategies, options, and resources for addressing your concern.  Additionally, unless what you say indicates that there is an imminent risk of serious harm to you or other people, everything you say to the ombudsperson remains confidential.  Even the fact that you visited the ombudsperson is confidential.

Group visits

In addition to individuals, the ombudsperson works with groups, both in a confidential setting (such as mediation) as well as in a more open setting (such as trainings or workshops; see below).  When groups visit the ombudsperson, the same commitments to confidentiality, informality, and impartiality apply.

Trainings, workshops, and meetings

The ombudsperson is often called upon to develop and/or deliver training sessions and workshops.  Additionally, the ombudsperson can help facilitate forward-looking meetings (e.g., strategy sessions).  If you or your group would like to explore something along these lines, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Feedback to leadership

Most of an ombudsperson's work is confidential meetings with individuals and groups.  At times, the ombudsperson may become aware of possible workplace trends or issues that university leadership should know about.  (The ombudsperson is not empowered to address such issues; as an independent and impartial entity, the ombudsperson has no managerial role or authority at the university.)  When this happens, the ombudsperson provides anonymous, non-identifying, aggregated feedback to the appropriate managers.  Please note that although providing institutional feedback is an important stewardship function of the ombuds role, it does not trump confidentiality. 

In all of these contexts, the ombudsperson will:

  • Listen to concerns
  • Act as a confidential sounding board
  • Assist in exploring options and researching resources
  • Value diversity
  • Clarify relevant policies and procedures
  • Teach conflict resolution skills and share best practices
  • Mediate or facilitate conversations
  • Provide anonymous trend data and institutional feedback to leadership

The ombudsperson won't:

  • Advocate for either side of a dispute
  • Compel participation
  • Breach confidentiality
  • Conduct formal investigations
  • Draw conclusions
  • Make decisions or file complaints
  • Participate in formal processes, such as performance evaluations
  • Give legal advice
  • Keep identifying records