Frequently Asked Questions About the Faculty Ombuds Program

What is an ombudsperson? 

The first ombudsman was appointed by the Swedish Parliament in 1809 to act as a public agent to assist citizens who had complaints against the executive bureaucracy of the Swedish government.  This is what today would be known as a “classical” ombudsperson. A faculty ombuds at NAU is an example of an “organizational” ombudsperson whose function it is to serve as a trained neutral, confidential and independent facilitator to assist parties in resolving in an informal manner differences or conflicts which arise related to one’s work within the University.   

Who may use the services of the NAU Faculty Ombuds Program?   

The services of the NAU Faculty Ombuds Program are provided to all members of the NAU faculty.  

For what reasons might a person contact the Faculty Ombuds Program? 

While the reasons a person might contact the Faculty Ombuds Program vary widely, some of the most common include: help in resolving differences with another member of the faculty, assistance in understanding how a University policy may be applicable to one’s concerns, help in identifying the options available for resolving differences, and assistance in finding needed information.  One of the most important things the Ombuds Program provides is to listen to a person’s issues and concerns in a confidential environment.   

Can the faculty ombuds be my advocate in dealing with a problem I am having? 

A faculty ombuds cannot serve as an advocate or a spokesperson nor may an ombuds appear before a faculty grievance committee or other such hearing.  A faculty ombuds may, however, assert the importance of a fair process and will assist individuals in identifying their options in dealing with issues and concerns.   

Can I place the University on legal “notice” by speaking about something with a member of the Faculty Ombuds Program?

No.  Communications with an ombuds and the Faculty Ombuds Program are informal and off-the-record.  Such communications do not constitute formal “notice” to Northern ArizonaUniversity.  Other channels exist within the University for such notice to be given and will be discussed as appropriate or when requested.  (Please refer to the program “Charter and Terms of Reference” for a complete statement regarding “notice.”)

To whom does the Faculty Ombuds Program report? 

The Faculty Ombuds Program reports to the Provost for administrative, evaluation, and budgetary purposes.  Information regarding particular cases is not shared.  While aggregate statistical data is gathered for an annual report, none of this information identifies individuals.