The Ombuds Officer advocates for the fair processes of graduate education and provides equal, open access to all parties: graduate and professional students, staff, faculty, and administrators. The university is a large and complex institution and graduate and professional students often play multiple roles (e.g., student, research collaborator, teacher, technician, and peer). Misunderstandings and conflicts can arise in any one of these roles. Having a confidential conversation with an Ombuds Officer can be a first step if you do not know where to turn. The Ombuds Officer serves as an informal, independent, neutral, and confidential resource for persons to discuss questions and concerns related to graduate education.
The Graduate and Professional Student Ombuds Officer is guided and informed by the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the International Ombudsman Association. The Ombuds Officer promotes the University mission of excellence in graduate education by providing a service to support and facilitate environments in which graduate students can thrive and prosper.
The Ombuds Officer can:
- Listen and help you achieve a greater understanding of the problem.
- Help you find information applicable to your situation and identify possible solutions to your problem.
- Explain University policies and procedures and how they apply to your specific case.
- Help you identify options for resolving conflicts with colleagues, staff, faculty, and advisors.
- Help you achieve fair and equitable solutions to problems.
- Facilitate communication among people in conflict.
- Provide other types of assistance to help you resolve a problem informally.
- Refer you to formal grievance or appeal procedures if you wish to engage in a formal process.
- Identify trends or patterns of complaints that might be systemic.
- Offer recommendations for changes to policies/procedures that appear outdated or problematic, while maintaining confidentiality.
The Ombuds Officer cannot:
- Advocate for the University or the student, or any particular point of view.
- Make or change University decisions, rules, or policies.
- Set aside a decision or supersede the authority of another University official.
- Participate in formal grievance procedures.
- Provide legal advice.
- Conduct formal investigations.
You might want to contact the Ombuds Officer when:
- You need an impartial, independent, and confidential person to listen.
- You think someone at the university has treated you unfairly.
- You have an issue that you and others have not been able to resolve and that you would prefer not to address through formal channels.
- You are not sure how to interpret a University policy or procedure or how it applies to your situation.
- You feel that a University policy, procedure, or regulation has been applied unfairly, or itself is unfair or ambiguous.
- You have a problem that requires an outside party to help facilitate communication and/or negotiate a solution.
The Ombuds Officer hears about a wide range of experiences and concerns related to graduate education. Some common concerns include:
- Academic related issues (e.g., grade disputes, testing procedures, instructor/student misunderstandings)
- Intellectual property
- Interpersonal conflicts, lab politics, and problems with workplace climate
- Professional ethics
- Advice on how to have difficult conversations
- Concerns about procedural fairness or due process
- Conflicts between graduate students and their research advisors
- Concerns about inequities in work expectations and/or funding opportunities
- Disagreements with or misunderstandings of university policy/procedure
- Cultural conflicts
- Concerns about unethical or inappropriate behavior
Annual Report 2014-2015
Annual Report 2015-2016
Annual Report 2016-2017
Annual Report 2017-2018
Annual Report 2018-2019
Help and Support
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Ombuds Officer contact information:
Ombuds Officer for Graduate and Professional Education
112 Jack K. Williams Administration Building
College Station, TX 77843-1113
In person, phone, and Skype appointments are available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment. Please include UIN, availablility, and a brief description of the issue. Please be advised that confidentiality cannot be ensured in email communication. Thus, we discourage you from sending sensitive information via email.