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Ensuring fairness at Queen’s

Changes to the Office of the University Ombudsperson are making guidance on policies and procedures more easily available for students, faculty, and staff.

Lavonne Hood started in the role of the university ombudsperson in August, 2019.

As a large and complex institution, Queen’s University has many policies and procedures in place that apply to students, faculty, and staff.  The Office of the University Ombudsperson helps to ensure that these rules are designed and administered to uphold fairness at the university.

After a recent external review of the office, the university has revised the role of the ombudsperson and updated the office’s terms of reference. Where the ombudsperson was previously perceived to serve as an advocate, primarily for students, the new terms clarify that they assist all Queen’s community members through awareness of their rights and help to ensure procedural fairness in university decision-making. In addition, the Office of the Ombudsperson is also offering training to faculty and staff at the university to help them understand best practices for procedural fairness. These sessions will help decision makers at Queen’s know what is required to ensure that the decision-making process is fair, and how to clearly explain their decisions and provide rationale in their decision letters.

The university has also chosen a new ombudsperson to inaugurate this revised role. Lavonne Hood started as the university ombudsperson in August, moving from her role as senior legal counsel at Queen’s, which she’d held since 2018. Prior to joining Queen’s, Hood worked in the Department of Justice as a legal counsel. In this role, she served as the co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Visible Minorities, earning both the individual and team National Awards for Employment Equity and Diversity Leadership from the Department of Justice for her efforts.   

Visit the new website for the Office of the University Ombudsperson.

“The ombudsperson plays an important role at Queen’s. In a complex higher education environment like ours, we need to make sure that everyone feels that our policies are fair and transparent. I believe that Lavonne Hood is perfectly suited for this work, and that she will help make Queen’s an increasingly equitable institution,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane.

Joining Hood in the office are Kathryn Morrissey and Aimee Burtch. Morrissey is generally the first point of contact for those connecting with the office, and provides advisory support. Burtch is responsible for the office’s communications and outreach strategy, programs, and activities.

“Sometimes understanding policies and procedures can be overwhelming, especially for students who may be going through a tough time personally or academically. The Office of the University Ombudsperson can explain complicated policies to students, faculty and staff, and provides resources so that they can feel empowered to navigate through their matters. I am excited to be working as the university ombudsperson at Queen’s, as I believe that this role gives me the opportunity to make a real difference at the university,” says Hood.

To learn more about Hood, her team, and the services they provide, visit the new website for the Office of the University Ombudsperson.