Duties of the office

The VCU ombudsperson provides assistance to help manage and resolve disputes, manage conflicts and learn more productive ways of communicating.

The ombudsperson does not accept formal complaints or notice of any claims to VCU. If a visitor wishes to make a record or put the institution “on notice,” that is, to make VCU formally aware of a particular problem, the ombudsperson can provide information on how to do so.

Specific duties:

  • Listens carefully to concerns and complaints brought by VCU's faculty, classified staff, postdoctoral trainees and students.
  • Helps analyze issues and identify options to resolve problems.
  • Identifies and explains relevant university policies and procedures.
  • Identifies pertinent documents, policies, procedures, services and programs that may help the visitor to the Office of the Ombudsperson.
  • With permission of the visitor to the office, informally investigates concerns and talks with involved parties.
  • Provides information on resources within the university.
  • Serves as a neutral party to solve problems and resolve conflict. The ombudsperson does not take sides, but works to achieve fair outcomes for all.
  • Arranges for mediation or discussions between parties when appropriate.
  • Advises about and makes referrals to other offices as needed.
  • Identifies problem areas facing faculty, classified staff, postdoctoral trainees and students and recommends changes in university policies and procedures that generate conflict.
  • Collaborates with other campus offices on issues of general concern.
  • Brings complaints to the attention of the appropriate university official.
  • Issues periodic reports summarizing activities. These reports are in anonymous and aggregate form to preserve confidentiality and prohibit identification of individuals.

The ombudsperson does not:

  • Represent any party in a dispute.
  • Render judgments or make decisions on issues brought to the office.
  • Discuss the situation with anyone without the consent of the visitor to the office.
  • Force a solution on anyone.
  • Guarantee a resolution that pleases the visitor to the office.
  • Compromise, replace or make exceptions to VCU policies or procedures.
  • Provide legal advice.
  • Provide psychological counseling.
  • Make decisions for administrators or others.
  • Determine "guilt" or "innocence" of those accused of wrong-doing.
  • Conduct formal investigations.
  • Assign sanctions or discipline to individuals.
  • Participate in grievance processes or lawsuits. The ombudsperson may help arrange mediation or direct individuals to appropriate grievance policies or resources.
  • Address issues not related to VCU.
  • Serve as an office of notice to VCU.
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