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3.2.12 Ombudsperson Policy

This is the policy for an Ombudsperson Council for faculty issues.

A. Ombudspersons have the authority to act as designated neutrals and impartial dispute resolution practitioners who will provide informal assistance to the university community regarding faculty issues. Disputes involving students should be referred to Community Rights and Responsibilities in Student Affairs.

B. Ombudspersons will not make binding decisions, mandate policies, or formally adjudicate issues for any individual or for the institution;

C. The Provost, in consultation with the Academic Senate, will establish processes for the selection, operations and oversight of Ombudspersons. The Ombudsperson Council will submit an annual report to the Faculty Affairs Committee of the Academic Senate and to the Provost. The report shall not disclose the identity, or any means of identification, of any individual in any way involved in any consultations.

                                            ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY

                                              OMBUDSPERSON COUNCIL


A Council of three (3) will be adequate to handle the number of inquiries and cases being received in a given year. When an inquiry is made, the group of three will consult and decide which one from among them (with mutual agreement of the inquirer) will be assigned to that inquiry. The three member Council will meet on a regular basis to maintain a relationship between the faculty and at-large members.

The Ombudsperson Council shall consist of two (2) faculty members and one (1) at-large member. Faculty members shall be from two different Colleges. The importance of drawing from different Colleges for the faculty representatives is to assure that for any particular inquiry or case, an Ombudsperson could be assigned who is not a member of the College in which the inquirer or case originates.

The at-large member shall be a non-faculty member with broad administrative knowledge and an understanding of Human Resources policy and procedures.

Discovery of members for the Ombudsperson Council will be the responsibility of the Provost in consultation with the President and College Deans. The Provost also will invite faculty to volunteer for the ombudsperson position through the External Committee Volunteer form distributed by the Academic Senate to all faculty. These volunteer nominations will then be added to the pool of candidates created through consultation with the President and College Deans. Final nominees will be affirmed or vetoed by a vote of the Faculty Caucus.

Release time for faculty members of the Council shall be equivalent to one (1) course per year.

All members of the Ombudsperson Council will complete an introductory education seminar on the Ombudsperson policies, philosophy and ethics pertaining to the Ombudsperson process. There are a number of resources for this, including off-campus seminars and web-based seminars, available through the International Ombudsperson Association (IOA). Our Council will become a permanent affiliating member of the IOA.

Initial appointments to the Ombudsperson Council will be for 2, 3 and 4 years terms, and then 3 years terms thereafter, so that each year one Ombudsperson will be departing from and one Ombudsperson will be joining the Council. However, members of the Council shall be allowed to serve more than one term.

The term "Ombudsperson Council" refers to the general ISU Ombudsperson Council or the group of three appointed Ombudspersons; while the term Ombudsperson refers to a specific person from the group of three assigned to a particular inquiry or case.

The Ombudsperson Council will submit an annual report to the Faculty Affairs Committee that outlines the number of cases, the amount of time allocated for Ombudsperson activities, and recommendations for future actions. The Provost will also receive a copy of the annual report. This annual report will allow FAC to engage in on-going review of the success of the Standards of Practice. Additionally, FAC will monitor "appropriate compensation" and recommend the number of Council members necessary to meet the demand for services.

                                               ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY

                                                 OMBUDSPERSON COUNCIL

                                                       CODE OF ETHICS


The ISU Ombudsperson Council is dedicated to excellence in the practice of Ombudsperson work. Based on the traditions and values of Ombudsperson practice, the ISU Ombudsperson Council Code of Ethics reflects a commitment to promote ethical conduct in the performance of the Ombudsperson role and to maintain the integrity of the Ombudsperson profession. The Ombudsperson shall be truthful and act with integrity, shall foster respect for all members of the ISU community, and shall promote procedural fairness in the content and administration of the practices, processes, and policies of the ISU community.



The Ombudsperson is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree possible within the organization.


The Ombudsperson, as a designated neutral, must remain unaligned and impartial. The Ombudsperson must not engage in any situation which could create a conflict of interest.


The Ombudsperson must hold all communications with those seeking assistance in confidence, and must not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so and/or where required by law. The only exceptions to this confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm and/or where required by law.


The Ombudsperson, as an informal resource, must not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to his/her attention and must not function as an advocate. S/he will not have the power to reverse decisions made or actions taken by the normally constituted authorities of the University.

***The ISU Ombudsperson Council Code of Ethics is adapted from the Code of Ethics formulated by the International Ombudsperson Association (www.obmudsassociation.org)

                                             ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY

                                               OMBUDSPERSON COUNCIL

                                                STANDARDS OF PRACTICE

The following document outlines the suggested standards of practice for an Ombudsperson Council at Illinois State University, focusing on the areas of Independence, Neutrality/Impartiality, Confidentiality and Informality. The ISU Ombudsperson Council Standards of Practice is adapted from the Standards of Practice formulated by the International Ombudsperson Association (www.obmudsassociation.org)


1.1 The Ombudsperson Council and the Ombudsperson are independent from other organizational entities.

1.  The Ombudsperson Council shall report directly to the Office of the Provost in a manner independent of ordinary line and staff functions.

  • The Ombudsperson, in the role of facilitator, shall be able to function independently from control, limitation, or interference imposed by any official in the entity.
  • The Ombudsperson shall be protected from retaliation by any person who may be the subject of a complaint or inquiry.
  • Members of the Ombudsperson Council shall have a set and renewable term, and are removable for neglect of duty, misconduct, ineffectiveness, or medical incapacity, and only by means of a fair process and procedure.

1.2 The Ombudsperson holds no other position within the organization which might give the appearance of a conflict of interest.


2.1 The Ombudsperson is neutral, impartial, and unaligned.

2.2 The Ombudsperson strives for impartiality, fairness and objectivity in the treatment of people and the consideration of issues. The Ombudsperson advocates for fair and equitably administered processes and does not advocate on behalf of any individual within the organization.

  • All members of the faculty served by the Ombudsperson may voluntarily seek services from the Ombudsperson and will be treated with respect and dignity. The Ombudsperson shall assure access impartially, including to people with disabilities, people who need language interpreters, or people whose work hours require flexibility in scheduling appointment times.
  • The organization shall assure that all faculty members of the organization have the right to consult with the Ombudsperson, and retaliation for exercising that right will not be tolerated.

2.3 The Ombudsperson should not be aligned with any formal or informal associations within the organization in a way that might create actual or perceived conflicts of interest for the Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson should have no personal interest or stake in, and incur no gain or loss from, the outcome of an issue.

  • The faculty Ombudsperson should not participate in formal management functions or serve in any other role that poses an actual conflict of interest or creates the perception of one.
  • The Ombudsperson should not provide Ombudsperson services to people whom the Ombudsperson -- in the other role -- serves, manages, reports to, teaches, advises, or evaluates, in order to avoid partiality or perceptions of conflict of interest. The Ombudsperson should provide Ombudsperson services in a neutral location.

2.4 The Ombudsperson has a responsibility to consider the legitimate concerns and interests of all individuals affected by the matter under consideration.

2.5 The Ombudsperson helps facilitate discussion and to identify the best options.

  • An Ombudsperson should help all parties explore and assess an appropriate range of options, from the very informal to the most formal. The Ombudsperson should never provide legal advice but will consult with the University's General Counsel as necessary.
  • The Ombudsperson makes clear that consultation with the Ombudsperson does not require follow through with the Ombudsperson process, nor preclude a party's right to go to grievance.


3.1 The Ombudsperson holds all communications with those seeking assistance in confidence and takes all reasonable steps to safeguard confidentiality.

  • The Ombudsperson does not reveal, and must not be required to reveal, the identity of any individual contacting the Ombudsperson Council.
  • The Ombudsperson does not reveal information provided in confidence that could lead to the identification of any individual contacting the Ombudsperson Council, without that individual's express written permission, unless such disclosure is required by law.
  • The Ombudsperson takes specific action related to an individual's issue only with the individual's express permission. In addition, the Ombudsperson has responsibility to maintain in confidence the identity of the individual. The only exception to this confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm, and where there is no other reasonable option and/or where required by law. Whether this risk exists is a determination to be made by the Ombudsperson in consultation with the University's General Counsel. Best practice is to interpret "imminent risk of serious harm" as narrowly as possible – for example, imminent risk to human life.
  • The Ombudsperson publicizes the confidential nature of Ombudsperson work.

3.2 The nature and role of confidentiality will be communicated prior to discussing the concerns brought by the inquirer.

3.3 The Ombudsperson maintains an advisory role only and does not testify in any formal process inside the organization and resists testifying in any formal process outside of the organization regarding a inquirer's contact with or confidential information communicated to the Ombudsperson, even if given permission or requested to do so.

3.4 If the Ombudsperson pursues an issue systemically (e.g., provides feedback on trends, issues, policies and practices) the Ombudsperson does so in a way that safeguards the identity of individuals.

  • Ombudsperson materials should state that any Ombudsperson reporting of trends, or communication of recommendations for systemic change, is done in a manner that protects the identity of individuals.
  • In all materials and other communications describing the functions of the Ombudsperson's Council, it should be emphasized that it is the "off-the-record" aspects of the council that lead people who use the Ombudsperson to do so before taking any official or formal action, and that the Ombudsperson Council enables people to come forward with an issue when they might otherwise be afraid to do so or when they fear retaliation from managers or peers.
  • The Ombudsperson identifies trends, issues and concerns about policies and procedures, including potential future issues and concerns, without breaching confidentiality or anonymity, and provides recommendations for responsibly addressing them.

3.5 The Ombudsperson keeps no records containing identifying information on behalf of the organization.

3.6 The Ombudsperson maintains information (e.g., notes, phone messages, appointment calendars) in a secure location and manner, protected from inspection by others (including management), and has a consistent and standard practice for the destruction of such information. (However, any records are potentially subject to FOIA).

  • The Ombudsperson record-keeping systems and/or database should be independent, with access allowed only to Ombudsperson Council personnel. The council should develop and implement processes and procedures to regularly purge information that could identify individual inquirers to the council.
  • The Ombudsperson should take all reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of any temporary notes or documents, such as locking file drawers and offices, and exercising extreme vigilance if any notes are carried from one place to another.

3.7 Communications made to the Ombudsperson are informal and do not represent a formal notification to the organization. The Ombudsperson neither acts as agent for, nor accepts notice on behalf of, the organization and shall not serve in a position or role that is designated by the organization as a place to receive notice on behalf of the organization.

  • The Ombudsperson should refer individuals to the appropriate place where formal notice can be made.
  • Best practice is for the organization to receive allegations of wrongdoing directly from a complainant or witness, and not indirectly through the Ombudsperson.
  • The Ombudsperson Council should have a well-defined and generally available procedure detailing the limited circumstances and the processes under which the ombudsperson may provide notice.


4.1 The Ombudsperson functions on an informal basis by such means as: listening, providing and receiving information, identifying and reframing issues, and developing a range of responsible options including referring individuals to the appropriate forum for a formal complaint or grievance.

  • When possible, the Ombudsperson helps people develop new ways to solve problems themselves.
  • The Ombudsperson Council advocates within the organization to encourage development and maintenance of a variety of effective formal (rights-based) and informal (confidential, interest-based) options for surfacing, exploring and resolving issues and concerns.
  • As a inquirer may wish to consult with additional resources and services, such as the Employee Assistance program, Human Resources, or the Office of Equal Opportunity, Ethics and Access, the Ombudsperson should remain abreast and informed of all resources that might be appropriate to a inquirer's presenting circumstances.
  • The Ombudsperson uses a flexible approach with regard to concerns brought to the Ombudsperson Council, with options that are tailored to individual circumstances.
  • The Ombudsperson should give inquirers information about the entity's formal procedures and remedies whenever appropriate. While a inquirer may choose to explore informal options for a wide variety of reasons, the Ombudsperson should remind the inquirer to keep in mind possible time limits and their potential impact on the inquirer's formal options.

4.2 The Ombudsperson as an informal and off-the-record resource pursues resolution of concerns and looks into procedural irregularities and/or broader systemic problems when appropriate.

4.3 The Ombudsperson does not make binding decisions, mandate policies, or formally adjudicate issues for the organization. The Faculty Ombudsperson should not participate in formal management functions.

4.4 The Ombudsperson supplements, but does not replace, any formal channels. Use of the Ombudsperson Council is voluntary, and is not a required step in any grievance process or organizational policy.

4.5 The Ombudsperson does not participate in any formal investigative or adjudicative procedures. Formal investigations should be conducted by others. When a formal investigation is requested, the Ombudsperson refers individuals to the appropriate offices or individual.

4.6 The Ombudsperson always acts in accordance with the Illinois State University Ombudsperson Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, adapted directly from the International Ombudsperson Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice, and keeps professionally current by pursuing continuing education.

4.7 The Ombudsperson endeavors to be worthy of the trust placed in the Ombudsperson Council.

Initiating body: Vice President and Provost/Academic Senate

Contact: Provost (438-7018)

Revised: 11/12

2018-01-29T14:20:58.886-06:00 2018