University of Maryland Ombuds Services
The University of Maryland provides Ombuds services for faculty, staff, graduate students and undergraduate students. Each Ombuds office operates in a different setting and with different reporting responsibilities. However, all of them share a common purpose and operate on the same basic Ombuds principles.
What is a University of Maryland Ombuds officer?
An Ombuds officer, Ombudsman, or simply "Ombuds" is a person who can be consulted by members of the university community who want to get information about University policies relating to their activities or who encounter problems that they cannot resolve through ordinary channels (i.e., student to teacher, staff to supervisor, faculty member to department chair.)* An Ombuds listens to complaints and helps, if possible, to resolve them. Sometimes the Ombuds simply provides information and counseling, or helps complainants develop strategies for dealing with their problems on their own. At other times, when authorized by the complainant, the Ombuds contacts other involved parties and attempts to work out mutually satisfactory solutions.
An Ombuds officer is confidential.
Communications with an Ombuds are confidential and no information or opinion presented to an Ombuds (or even the fact that the Ombuds has been contacted) will be passed on to other parties without the express permission of the complainant. The only exceptions to confidentiality are when there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm to self or others, or if required by law, litigation, or University policy (e.g., sexual misconduct, child/elder abuse, or criminal activity).
An Ombuds officer is independent.
The Ombuds position is outside of all regular chains of authority and reporting responsibility. An Ombuds emphasizes fairness in seeking solutions to problems.
An Ombuds officer is impartial.
An Ombuds does not take sides or advocate any particular position. Instead, an Ombuds tries to help all parties involved to understand the viewpoints of others, and develop mutually satisfactory ways of resolving conflicts.
What does an Ombuds DO?
- Listens to the concerns of the client and helps identify possible solutions.
- Provides information that may be helpful in resolving problems, including (a) an explanation of University policies and procedures, and (b) the availability of other University resources and personnel that might be helpful in dealing with the matter.
- Opens communication among involved parties, with the permission of the client.
- Speaks to any appropriate group requesting information about University policies and conflict resolution services.
- Identifies trends in areas of concern across the campus and, usually in collaboration with others, draws administrative and policy-making attention to them.
University of Maryland Ombuds Officers
Karen M. O'Brien, Ph.D.
2147B Biology-Psychology Building
College Park, MD 20742
Faculty Ombuds Officer
Staff Ombuds Office
Mark A. Shayman
2100A Lee Building
Graduate Students Ombuds Office
2110 Marie Mount Hall
Undergraduate Ombuds Office