David S. Carver, Ph.D., Director
College of Nursing, 4th Floor
402-559-2491 (Call for a confidential appointment)
Purpose of the Ombudsperson
The word “ombudsman” originated in Sweden and means “representative of the people.” UNMC has established a team of ombudspersons to help students, residents, faculty and staff resolve problems and to promote fair and equitable treatment for all members of the UNMC community. Dr. David Carver is the student/employee ombudsperson and Dr. Susan Swindells is the faculty/employee ombudsperson. Although Dr. Carver is the designated student ombudsperson, Dr. Swindells is also available for consultation with students. More specifically, the Ombudsperson services are:
- Confidential – No written records are kept, and any information shared by a student remains private except in cases of direct threats of physical harm to self or others
- Informal – The ombudsperson is a “behind the scenes” sounding board or consultant; but is not an UNMC “officer of notice” for filing formal complaints, grievances, or appeals and does not participate in formal hearings or disciplinary processes
- Independent – The ombudsperson program is not part of the formal UNMC administrative chain of command and reports only general problem trends and other summary data (without identifying individuals) to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the Chancellor
- Neutral – The ombudsperson advocates for fair processes but does not take sides or serve as an advocate for a student in formal complaints, appeals, or grievances
Functions of the Ombudsperson
Information and Referral Source — The ombudsperson is an information source on policies, procedures and regulations that apply to students, staff or faculty. In a complex organization like UNMC, it is often difficult to figure out where to go with an issue or concern. The ombudsperson can answer the question “Where do I start?” by referring the student to the appropriate person or office. The ombudsperson can also help students to locate and interpret relevant policies.
Identification of Options – The ombudsperson listens carefully and non-judgmentally to a student’s concern and then assists the student in identifying various options for solving a particular problem. This confidential conversation may help the student to decide on a specific course of action after weighing the potential rewards and risks of various options.
Facilitating Conversations —With the permission of the student, the ombudsperson may act as an informal, neutral facilitator between parties in a dispute. This can be done by bringing the parties together for a face-to-face conversation with the ombudsperson present, or it can be accomplished through “shuttle diplomacy” where the ombudsperson talks with each party separately. The dispute may be between a student and a faculty member, two or more students, or a student and an employee. The ombudsperson may also provide information about formal “due process” grievance procedures, but the ombudsperson will not participate directly in any formal grievance or appeal hearings.
Policy Recommendations — Ombudspersons gather facts and data on recurring problems experienced by students, faculty or staff. Ombudsperson team members may recommend changes in policies, procedures and organizational structures to promote greater fairness and equity.
Consult an Ombudsperson . . .
- If you are unsure about which UNMC policies, procedures or regulations apply in your situation.
- If you have a specific problem or complaint that you have not been able to resolve through regular UNMC channels (or if you are unclear about where to start or what to do next).
- If you need help in deciding whether to appeal an evaluation, a grade, or an administrative decision.
- If you feel that you have been treated improperly or unfairly and would like to identify your options.
- If you have a problem that requires assistance in facilitating communication and understanding between you and another party.
- If you need help in deciding whether to file a formal complaint or grievance.
Students and residents can get more information about the Ombudsperson service by calling the Ombuds Team Hotline at 402-559-2491.