Office of the Ombudsperson

OFFICE OF THE

University Ombudsman

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PROCEDURAL GUIDELINES FOR THE OFFICE OF THE UNIVERSITY OMBUDSMAN

  1. GUIDING PRINCIPLES

Except where inconsistent with the provisions of this document, or the Terms of Reference for the Office of the University Ombudsman, the most current version of the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons (ACCUO) Standards of Practice shall guide the operations of the Office.

  1. ACCESSIBILITY

The Ombudsman shall make every effort to ensure that the Office is accessible to the entire University community and shall undertake, whenever possible, to inform the community of the existence of the Office and its function.

The Office shall have flexible Office hours to ensure that the services of the Ombudsman are available to the entire University community.

  1. CASE MANAGEMENT

The Office shall normally function on a first come, first served basis. However, matters that are particularly time sensitive or critical in nature may assume priority at the Ombudsman’s discretion. All matters shall be addressed as expeditiously as possible.

In the event that a period of ninety (90) days should elapse, during which the Ombudsman is unable to contact a visitor to the Office, the Ombudsman may consider the matter to be withdrawn.

  1. FORMS OF INTERVENTION

The method of intervention remains at the discretion of the Ombudsman [1] but may include:

  1. requesting that a University official meet with a member of the University community;
  2. meeting directly with the other party(ies);
  3. facilitating communication between the parties;
  4. reviewing any relevant University record;
  5. making informal inquiries into a matter;
  6. utilizing a form of shuttle diplomacy;
  7. facilitating a meeting between the parties;
  8. mediating a dispute;
  9. offering recommendations for a fair resolution; and/or
  10. offering advice to the institution on policy development or revision.
  1. THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE

5.1  The Ombudsman shall meet at least once per year with an Advisory Committee, or more often at the call of the Chair thereof. The Advisory Committee shall be comprised of the Secretary of the University as Chair, the Provost, or delegate, a faculty member (as chosen by the Senate), General Counsel, the President of the AMS or delegate and the President of the SGPS or delegate.  No member of the Board of Trustees shall be eligible to serve on the Advisory Committee.

5.2  The Committee shall provide guidance, advice, and support to the Ombudsman. The Committee shall do so without becoming involved in the substance of matters and subject to the confidentiality rules governing the Office. More specifically, the Committee may advise and assist the Ombudsman in the following matters:

  1. reviewing the financial and other resource requirements of the Office to ensure adequate support and commitment to support fulfillment of the mandate of the Office;
  2. making recommendations regarding improvements to the visibility and effectiveness of the Office;
  3. maintaining the independence and impartiality of the Office;
  4. organizing a review of the Office from time to time;
  5. reviewing and commenting on the Annual Report and ensuring its’ wide distribution; and
  6. planning for the future of the Office.

The Committee shall be advisory only and shall not have any management authority over the Office of the Ombudsman, or the employees therein.

5.3  If a member of the university community believes that the Ombudsman has committed a violation of the Terms or Reference for the Office or any other policy of the University, s/he may submit a written complaint, detailing the alleged violation, to the Secretary of the University.  The complainant must be a party to the matter in question and no complaint shall be considered while a matter is ongoing.  The Secretary of the University may select one or more members of the university community, or an individual from outside of the community if preferable, to review the matter, and report back as to his/her/their findings. The Ombudsman shall be provided a fair opportunity to answer any allegations. Following the investigation, the Secretary of the University shall, take whatever action s/he deems appropriate including requesting further review, dismissing the complaint if it has been successfully answered, or proceeding with formal disciplinary action.

  1. TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT OF THE OMBUDSMAN

Nature of Appointment

6.1  The Ombudsman is a University Professional Management position appointed by the University.  The Office reports administratively to the Secretary of the University and is accountable to the Board of Trustees through the Audit and Risk Committee of the Board and to the Senate.  The Ombudsman shall be subject to all of the usual rights and responsibilities of a University employee in a Professional Management position. The Ombudsman shall have official observer status at the Senate, and the Board of Trustees.

Performance Reviews

6.2  The Ombudsman shall be subject to personal performance reviews by the Secretary of the University on a regular basis. The Secretary shall consult with the Advisory Committee in the course of preparing a performance review of the Ombudsman.

Conflict of Interest

6.3  The integrity of the Office and fairness to the person(s) involved in the matter require that an allegation of a conflict of interest should succeed only if there is a “reasonable apprehension of bias.” In the event of an actual or perceived conflict of interest, the Ombudsman shall inform the parties concerned and shall ensure that the parties are aware of other possible methods of resolving the conflict. In appropriate cases, another member of the University community may be requested to assume the role of Ombudsman, for the purposes of this individual case and shall, in such role, be governed by the Terms of Reference for the Office.


[1]The manner in which the Ombudsman becomes involved in a matter may preclude certain actions being taken by her/him at a later stage in the dispute resolution process.