- One who investigates complaints and mediates fair settlements, especially between aggrieved parties such as consumers or students and an institution or organization.
- A government official, especially in Scandinavian countries, who investigates citizens' complaints against the government or its functionaries.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Copyright & copy; 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
What Does an Ombuds Do?
The ombuds provides a safe, fair, comfortable, and confidential environment for you to discuss your concerns or complaints outside formal channels. The ombuds cannot impose solutions, but identifies options and strategies for resolution.
The ombuds will:
- listen and help to analyze the problem or complaint
- identify and explain relevant University policies and procedures
- help to define and evaluate options
- help you resolve problems informally and expeditiously
- investigate a problem, complaint, or concern
- mediate conflicts
- initiate discussions with other involved parties (only with your permission)
- make referrals to other campus and community resources
- recommend changes in University policies or procedures that may be outdated, ineffectual, or arbitrary
What Does an Ombuds Not Do?
- The ombuds does not act as an advocate for you in a dispute. The ombuds is neutral and impartial.
- The ombuds does not represent individuals in appeals or formal grievance procedures either on campus or off campus.
- The ombuds does not provide legal representation or give legal advice.
- The ombuds does not get involved if you have a non-university related problem or complaint.
- The ombuds does not overturn binding decisions but can investigate procedural fairness.
- The ombuds does not make administrative decisions for Baylor administrators.
- The ombuds does not determine "guilt" or "innocence" of those accused of wrong-doing.
- The ombuds does not assign sanctions to individuals.
- The office of the ombuds is not an office of record. Speaking with the ombuds is not "notice to Baylor University" of problems or policy violations. Often persons will seek advice from the ombuds privately, before deciding what actions to take in response to a problem. If you want Baylor University to "be on notice," that is, formally to know about a particular problem and formally respond, the ombuds can help you identify which office you would need to contact.
- The ombuds does not keep formal written records. The ombuds can help you determine how to keep your own records, if you need to do that.