The first ombuds office was established in Sweden at the beginning of the nineteenth century in order to provide citizens with a place to bring concerns about improper actions (or failure to act) by governmental agencies.
Although the terminology varies somewhat ("ombudsman", "ombudsperson","ombuds") and the details of the role vary somewhat depending on the organizational setting, the basic purpose of an ombuds is to help people identify ways to resolve conflicts.
At the University of Miami, the Office of the University Ombudsperson was established in 1970 as an Ombudsperson Council. It was created to open channels of communication between students and the University community, to minimize bureaucracy and cut through the red-tape for students and finally to provide identifiable persons to listen to student grievances.
Who does the Office of the Ombudsperson serve?
Students – incoming, currently enrolled, alumni and former students
Parents, family members or UM faculty and staff members seeking advice or guidance on how to help a student resolve an issue may contact the office or a troubleshooter with questions.
What does an Ombudsperson do?
The Ombudsperson facilitates a voluntary process to open communication between you and members of the University community in order to resolve concerns and issues. The Ombudsperson listens to your concerns, investigates the facts surrounding the matter, and makes objective recommendations to achieve an effective resolution. The Ombudsperson provides a safe, fair, comfortable, and confidential environment for you to discuss your concerns or complaints outside formal channels.
The Ombudsperson will:
Provide a confidential place to talk
Listen to concerns
Informally investigate student concerns and issues
Explain campus policies, procedures and processes
Help to define and evaluate options
Suggest ways to effectively deal with a problem
Make referrals to other campus and community resources
Initiate discussions with other involved parties (only with your permission)
The Ombudsperson will not:
Represent individuals in appeals or formal grievance procedures either on campus or off campus
Provide legal representation or give legal advice
Get involved if you have a non-university related problems or complaints
Override departmental policies and decisions but can investigate procedural fairness
Make administrative decisions for University of Miami administrators
Assign sanctions to individuals
The Office of the Ombudsperson is not an office of record. Speaking with the ombudsperson is not "notice to the University of Miami" of problems or policy violations.
The role and approach of the Ombudsperson may be summed up in three words: impartial, confidential, and informal.
Impartial. The University Ombudsperson is not an advocate or critic – the rights, interests and obligations of all concerned parties are considered to reach a fair resolution.
Confidential. The concerns or issues presented remain in confidence upon the student’s request, unless otherwise required by University of Miami policies and procedures.
Informal. The University Ombudsperson works with students to explore options and helps them establish communication with appropriate departments and offices.