LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Ombuds Office will mark the second annual Ombuds Day with a public reception for the current and past faculty ombuds.
Ombuds Day, which was created by the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section Ombuds Committee, is designed to put a spotlight on a profession that has existed for centuries yet remains relatively unknown. It will be celebrated on Thursday, Oct. 10, this year.
At KU, Ada Emmett, librarian, and Maria Orive, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology, respectively the current and past faculty ombuds, will be celebrated at a reception from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Perkins Central Court of the Spencer Museum of Art. The reception is open to all; however, for planning purposes, those who would like to attend the reception are encouraged to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ombuds Office gives members of the KU community an avenue to seek independent, confidential and impartial assistance in addressing conflicts, disputes or complaints on an informal basis without fear of retaliation, loss of privacy or judgment. An ombuds is not an advocate for individuals but is an advocate for fair process. KU has both a full-time university ombuds and a part-time faculty ombuds.
D.A. Graham, university ombuds, shared some history of the faculty ombuds at KU.
“The faculty ombuds role has a long and honorable tradition as a means of protecting against abuse, bias and other improper treatment or unfairness at KU,” Graham said. “The office was originally established as a part-time faculty ombuds only. Eventually a full-time university ombuds was established to help cover the needs of the entire KU community.”
While a faculty ombuds may bring personal insight into the experiences of faculty on campus, the responsibilities and capabilities of the two positions overlap.
“The roles and functions of the university and faculty ombuds may include, but are not limited to, assisting faculty, staff and students who have questions, complaints or disputes concerning university policies and procedures; helping to resolve conflict in the department or academic unit or between students, faculty and staff and administrators; consultation and informal advising; and facilitation and provision of assessments and information to appropriate university officials,” Graham said.
Emmett, who continues to serve as director of the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright, joined the Ombuds Office in July. She completed state of Kansas-approved training in core mediation and attended restorative justice training, both in June 2019.
The Ombuds Office assists students, staff and faculty on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses and adheres to the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Members of the KU community are encouraged to reach out to the office any time they need its services.