What does the Faculty Ombudsperson do?
The Faculty Ombuds Program provides a safe and confidential place for University of Missouri tenure track and non-tenure track faculty to seek guidance regarding workplace concerns at any time, without fear of reprisal, and at no cost to them.
The primary function of the Faculty Ombudsperson is to provide informal assistance and impartial conflict/dispute resolution. The Ombudsperson provides faculty a confidential place to collaboratively explore complaints, clarify issues, and consider options and resources to address their concerns. The work of the Ombudsperson is meant to help address faculty conflicts at early stages and suggest appropriate resolutions. Because of this, faculty are encouraged to reach out with their concerns no matter how small. Faculty can ask questions or share concerns related to their individual situations or to broader systemic issues. The response of the Ombudsperson is unique to the dynamics of the situation, the nature of the concerns, and the faculty member’s desires. The goal of the Ombudsperson’s work is for faculty to thrive, thereby positively impacting the well-being of faculty and the climate of the institution.
As a designated neutral, the Ombudsperson is neither an advocate for any individual nor the organization, but rather is a promoter for fairness, who acts as a source of information and referral, aids in answering an individual’s questions, and assists in the resolution of concerns. The work of the Ombudsperson is independent, impartial, informal and confidential. As a member of the International Ombuds Association, the Omudsperson will follow the International Ombuds Association Standards of Practice.
Who does the Faculty Ombudsperson serve?
The Faculty Ombudsperson is available to all tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty members of the University of Missouri.
What about confidentiality?
The Faculty Ombudsperson will keep confidential a faculty member’s visit as well as the information shared unless the faculty member gives permission to reveal specific issues with specific persons for the purpose of resolving the conflict.
However, there are legal exceptions and University policies that occasionally require the Faculty Ombudsperson to break confidentiality, including: a serious risk of imminent harm to faculty member, others, or a perceived threat to the University. In addition, under the guidelines of the University, the Faculty Ombudsperson is designated a mandatory reporter for Title IX and equity purposes. The Ombudsperson will inform a faculty member if their case is likely to require a breach of confidentiality.
The Faculty Ombudsperson is not designated by the University of Missouri as an entity authorized to receive reports of university policy violations or of unlawful practices. Therefore, communications made to the Faculty Ombudsperson regarding possible violations do not constitute notice to the University of Missouri. This provision ensures the freedom of the Ombudsperson to work independently and confidentially with faculty. If a faculty member would like to make a formal report of a problem or concern, the Ombudsperson will assist the faculty member in doing so while protecting their privacy to the greatest extent possible.
How can I contact the Ombudsperson?
To set up an appointment or ask a question, email the Ombudsperson at email@example.com.
For more information about the Faculty Ombudsperson and the services offered by the Faculty Ombuds Office, please see the sections below.
Dr. Pam Bruzina joined MU in 2000 and is a professor of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology. She has held several positions during her time that have prepared her for this role. For the past five years, she has served as the Faculty Athletics Representative to the SEC and NCAA, a position that she will continue to maintain. Since 2009, Dr. Bruzina has been a member of the Grievance Resolution Panel (GRP), the committee that processes Academic Grievances, and since 2018 has been a member of the Equity Resolution Panel. She has served on Faculty Council since 2020, during which time she chaired the IDE Committee and served on task force that revised the CRR to extend Faculty Council representation to all NTT faculty, including extension professionals.
Be a sounding board: collaboratively explore complaints, clarify issues and consider options.
Be an empathetic listener: listen empathetically and impartially, and offer unbiased feedback.
Be a guide: direct faculty toward available resources and appropriate policies and reporting structures.
Be a facilitator: encourage and empower employees to find their own solutions.
Be a mediator: at the faculty member’s request facilitate communication and conflict resolution.
Be a catalyst: initiate institutional change by identifying opportunities to enhance university policies and procedures.
Be equitable: promote fairness, equality, inclusion and access for all persons.
Because of the informal, neutral, and confidential nature of ombuds services, the Faculty Ombudsperson does not:
- Represent faculty or staff in any formal hearings, processes, or procedures
- Engage in administrative decisions
- Determine the merits of a faculty or staff member’s complaint
- Conduct formal investigations
- Provide legal representation or advice
- Provide psychological counseling
The process for creating this role and eventually selecting Dr. Bruzina to serve began in 2021, when an ad hoc committee charged by Faculty Council and the Provost’s Office began investigating if an Ombudsperson role should be created at MU. Upon their recommendation that MU pursue this opportunity, a new ad hoc committee crafted a formal proposal for the role. Listening sessions were held throughout Fall 2022 with members from various constituent groups, including deans, chairs, Faculty Council, AAUP, and the faculty and staff in offices that have a related focus, including Title IX/Institutional Equity, Audit and Compliance, General Counsel, Human Resources, and the Division of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity. A search committee comprised of representatives from the constituent groups conducted an internal search beginning in the Fall of 2022 and concluding with the appointment of Dr. Bruzina in the Spring of 2023.
The Ombudsperson is housed within the Office of the Provost, reporting directly to the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, for purposes of administrative and budgetary support. Crucially, however, the Ombudsperson is independent in their work to the extent feasible and lawful and will ensure that university leadership is kept abreast on systematic issues within the institution.
The University of Missouri Faculty Ombudsperson is a member of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA). In providing ombuds services, the Ombudsperson adheres to the IOA’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice which highlight confidentiality, neutrality, informality, and independence as core values.
The Ombudsperson holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The Ombudsperson maintains strict confidentiality and will not identify the faculty member or their concerns to anyone without permission. Exceptions include if a Title IX or equity concern is shared; in that instance, as a mandated reporter, the Ombudsperson will report the concern to the Office of Institutional Equity. In addition, when the Ombudsperson believes that disclosure is necessary to address an imminent risk of serious harm or when abuse or neglect of a child or disabled adult is suspected, or if otherwise required by law. The Faculty Ombudsperson does not keep permanent records about individuals. There is a privilege with respect to confidential communications with the Ombudsperson, and the Ombudsperson does not participate in any formal institutional proceeding.
The Ombudsperson, as a designated neutral, remains unaligned and impartial. The Ombudsperson does not take sides, but considers the rights and interests of all parties. The ombudsperson is an advocate for fairness. The Ombudsperson has no personal stake in the outcome of any situation, and the Ombudsperson does not engage in any situation that could create a conflict of interest.
The Ombudsperson, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to her attention. Use of the Ombudsperson is not a substitute for formal procedures.
The Ombudsperson is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree possible within the organization. The Faculty Ombudsperson reports directly to the Provost and not to any other department or group on campus. The Ombudsperson works hard to merit the trust others place in the position by acting according to the following core values.
- Act with honest and integrity
- Promote fairness and support fair process
- Remain non-judgmental, with empathy and respect for individual differences
- Promote dignity, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging
- Communicate accurate understanding through active listening
- Promote individual empowerment, self-determination and collaborative problem-solving; and
- Endeavor to be an accessible, trusted and respected informal resource.
Policies, Procedures and Guidelines
- MU Collected Rules and Regulations
- Promotion and Tenure Guidelines
- Faculty Grievance Policy
- Faculty Standards of Conduct
- Research Misconduct
- Faculty Handbook
Governance and Committees
Conflict Resolutions Organizations
How should I contact the Ombuds Office and when is the Ombudsperson available?
You can email questions to the Ombudsperson or arrange an appointment at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is located in 413 Gentry.
When should I contact the Ombudsperson?
- When you believe you have been treated unfairly.
- When you do not know which policies, procedures, or regulations might apply in your situation.
- When you are unsure of where to go or what options exist to solve a problem.
- When you believe a policy, procedure, or regulation has been unfairly or wrongly applied.
- When you believe a policy, procedure, or regulation is unfair, illegal, or confusing.
- When you need help negotiating a situation.
- When you need help facilitating communication.
- When you have a question or a complaint about an office, service, or decision.
Will my concerns be kept confidential?
Yes. With limited exceptions, you decide whether the issue will go beyond the Ombudsperson. It is important to remember that the confidentiality of email cannot be guaranteed. Email is suitable for setting up an appointment, but you should not include personal or confidential information in the message.
How is my privacy protected?
Confidentiality and neutrality are the cornerstones of the Ombuds office. The Ombudsperson will not share your information without your permission unless there is imminent risk of serious harm and when there is no other reasonable option.
The Ombudsperson reports about trends and provides feedback, but any data or reports are prepared in a manner that protects confidentiality. Any notes regarding a visitor are seen only by the Ombudsperson.
Email is suitable for setting up an appointment, but you should not include personal or confidential information in the message.
Will the Ombudsperson respond to anonymous complaints?
No. Without the opportunity to discuss the situation or concern with the faculty member, understand essential details of the concern and potential outcomes the employee seeks, the Ombudsperson cannot respond with suggestions, options or strategies for potential action or resolution. The ethical standard of confidentiality and supporting practices for the office and each faculty member protects identity.
Is the Ombudsperson authorized to receive reports of university policy violations or of unlawful practices?
No. The Ombuds Office is not designated as an entity authorized to receive reports of university policies or of unlawful practices. Therefore, communications made to the Ombudsperson regarding possible violations do not constitute notice to the University of Missouri. This provision ensures the freedom of the Ombudsperson to work independently and confidentially with individuals seeking assistance.
What does the Ombuds Office report to campus?
The Faculty Ombudsperson submits an annual report to the Provost. The report is subsequently distributed to the campus governance groups and made available to the general university community. The report provides general information about visitor demographics, issues and concerns they have experienced, any trends or patterns observed, and recommendations for improving campus climate for employees.