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The Principles of an Ombudsperson

The Ombudsperson adheres to the four core principles of the profession: confidentiality, informality, impartiality, and independence. These principles, along with the standards of practice, provide the ethical guidelines that are important for success in the role of the Ombudsperson[1]. The following is a short overview of the core ethical principles as communicated in messaging describing the office that serves the Graduate School:


Communication with the Ombudsperson is confidential. Conversations that take place with the Ombudsperson are strictly between the Ombudsperson and the visitor. The Ombudsperson will not disclose or be required to disclose any information that comes out of these conversations, unless given expressed permission by the visitor as a means to help move the situation forward in a constructive way. The only limit to this confidentiality is when it is necessary to address an imminent risk to public safety and/or harm to self or others.


The Ombudsperson provides objective and impartial guidance pertaining to all issues and concerns discussed in the office.  The ombudsperson is an advocate for fair process, but not a direct advocate for students, staff, faculty, or administration. While the Ombudsperson will provide guidance and seek to identify appropriate channels to resolve disputes, the Ombudsperson does not hold decision-making authority and cannot override decisions made by those with authority to make said decisions. 


The Ombudsperson helps individuals seeking assistance to address concerns or resolve conflicts on an informal basis. Options and strategies to resolve the concern may be discussed, but you decide what options are most appropriate for you. The Ombudsperson does not participate in any formal processes and does not accept notice on behalf of the University. If you would like to pursue formal options, the Ombudsperson will help you identify the appropriate processes to help resolve your concern.


The Ombudsperson reports to the Vice-President and Dean of the Graduate School, but operates the office independently. The Ombudsperson exercises sole discretion over whether or how to act regarding an individual’s concern, a trend, or concerns of multiple individuals over time.


[1] The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) developed and continues to assess the relevance of the core principles and standards of practice to ensure the continued efficacy of the profession (