P19: Ombudsperson Mediation Procedures
Effective Date: December 27, 1989
Revised Date: October 15, 2019
Requesting Assistance from an Ombudsperson
University employees and students should attempt to resolve any dispute at the academic and/or administrative unit where the complaint arose. If that option is unavailable or unsuccessful, ombudspersons offer the next opportunity to resolve disputes.
Anyone with a complaint must contact an ombudsperson within 30 days of the occurrence prompting the complaint. The ombudsperson will seek to clarify the issues, to identify the relevant university policies, and to mediate between the affected parties. The engagement with the ombudsperson is voluntary and both sides must agree to this process. If not, the individual who initiated the request may advance to the grievance process which the ombudsperson will inform he or she about.
- If the issue involves discrimination, the ombudsperson will refer the grievant to the Office of University Rights and Responsibilities, pursuant to ACD 401.
- If an issue is otherwise ineligible for intervention by the ombudsperson (see ACD 509-01), the ombudsperson will advise that the grievance should be filed with the Grievance Clearinghouse Committee, will provide materials, and will clarify the process of filing a formal grievance.
- If the complainant does not wish to seek mediation and does wish to file a grievance; or if the ombudsperson cannot resolve the dispute, and the grievant wishes to pursue further action, the ombudsperson will present the grievant with a Grievance Form and clarify the process of filing a grievance.
Requesting Mediation Services
Any person electing to use the mediation services of an ombudsperson shall file a request for mediation services (see Mediation Services Form ACD 509–01B), which must include the following information:
- the names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers of the disputing parties
- the date the dispute arose
- the vice presidential area, college, or academic or administrative unit involved
- a brief statement setting forth the issues in dispute
- the remedy desired.
The ombudsperson shall forward copies of the request for mediation services and ACD 509-01, “University Ombudsperson Program” to the respondent(s) within seven days after receiving the request.
Response to the Dispute
The respondent(s) shall have 15 days to submit a written response to the ombudsperson. Before responding, respondent(s) who are unfamiliar with the mediation process are encouraged to contact the referring ombudsperson for information about mediation, within the 15-day time frame.
The respondent’s response (see Mediation Services Form ACD 509–01C) must contain:
- the name, address, email address, and telephone number of the respondent
- a brief statement of the respondent’s position.
Meetings Between the Parties
The ombudsperson will coordinate meetings and/or the exchange of information between the disputing parties. The ombudsperson shall establish the time, date, and place of each meeting, giving at least 48-hours’ notice. The ombudsperson also may meet with each party individually. All mediation meetings shall be held in closed session and shall be confidential.
Resolution of the Dispute/Termination of Mediation
After receiving written statements from the disputing parties, the ombudsperson shall have 30 days in which to assist in resolving the dispute to the mutual satisfaction of the parties involved (see Mediation Services Form ACD 509–01A).
If a mutually satisfactory resolution results from the mediation, the process ends with the signing of a mediation agreement (see Mediation Services Form ACD 509–01D). The ombudsperson and each of the disputing parties will retain copies of the agreement for their files.
If the ombudsperson:
- has received the request for mediation services and the response
- has met each party at least once
- believes that the matter cannot be mediated
the ombudsperson may terminate mediation. The complainant may then follow the applicable grievance procedure if he or she wants to pursue the grievance. The complainant has 30 days after notification of the termination of mediation to initiate the appropriate formal grievance procedure.
If mediation has been completed and the complainant disagrees with the ombudsperson’s determination, the complainant may initiate the formal grievance procedure within 30 days of receipt of an ombudsperson’s report, if the matter is grievable.
If the matter proceeds to a formal hearing, the ombudsperson shall not disclose any information discussed during mediation proceedings. All information received by the ombudsperson during the mediation process will be confidential and records created or received will not be released by the ombudsperson. Ombudspersons shall not testify or provide statements about cases in which they were involved to grievance or other committees or hearing boards.
The Ombudsperson’s Report
Whether or not mediation is successful, the mediation process culminates in a written report prepared by the ombudsperson and sent to the parties within 10 days after the mediation process has ended. The report (see Mediation Services Form ACD 509–01E, Mediation Services Form ACD 509–01F, Mediation Services Form ACD 509–01G, and Mediation Services Form ACD 509–01H) shall contain the following:
- the names of the disputing parties
- the length of time mediation was attempted
- the outcome of the mediation process
- notice that the complainant, if dissatisfied with the result of the mediation process after receiving the ombudsperson’s report, has a right to file a formal grievance within the time period specified by the appropriate policy
- the names and office addresses of the individuals with whom a formal grievance should be filed.
For information about grievances, see:
- ACD 509–02, “Grievance Policy for Faculty”
- ACD 509–03, “Grievance Policy for Academic Professionals”