Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean that the Office of the Ombudsman is independent from the university?

The Office of the Ombudsman reports directly to the Chancellor and the Executive Vice Chancellor for administrative and budgetary purposes only. Therefore, the ombudsman has access to all decision makers. The Office of the Ombudsman’s role and function is defined by the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

How is the Office of the Ombudsman informal?

Use of the office is voluntary. The office is not a replacement or substitute for formal grievance, investigative and appeal processes provided by the university. Conversations with an ombudsman are confidential and considered off the record.

The office intervenes when requested, to assist parties in finding a resolution when privacy, discretion, and promptness are desired.

How is the Office of the Ombudsman different from an office of record?

The Office of the Ombudsman can receive information in confidence and is not obligated to report what is disclosed. The exceptions to confidentiality are disclosures of child or elder abuse and imminent risk of serious harm to self or the general public.

An office of record may be obligated to conduct a formal investigation once given notice of a matter, concern, or complaint; the Office of the Ombudsman is not bound by this obligation. In short, by coming to the Office of the Ombudsman, the visitor has control over what he or she discloses and can decide how he/she wants the matter to be handled.

The office keeps no documents or permanent records that identify visitors to the office.

Does the Office of the Ombudsman identify and report trends and systemic problems?

Yes. The office extracts demographic statistics such as: gender, ethnicity, type of complaint, whether the visitor was a student, staff, faculty, administrator, and the outcome.

The statistics have no identifying links to the visitor. The information compiled gives the office data to make recommendations regarding systemic change where appropriate.

What if a matter is brought to the attention of the Office of the Ombudsman and it cannot be resolved informally?

The office will refer the visitor to an appropriate office.

Can I use the Office of the Ombudsman when I have filed a grievance or retained an attorney or union representative?

No. The office is an informal resource designed to resolve complaints, concerns or problems before a grievance has been filed or an attorney or union representative has been retained.

Is the Office of the Ombudsman an advocate for those who use the office?

No. The office does not take sides. An ombudsman is a designated neutral. The office advocates for a fair process.

If I have a dispute or conflict when there is a power imbalance, how can the office help?

The role of an ombudsman is to remain impartial, to listen to and acknowledge all parties concerns and interests, to gather facts and ask appropriate questions as an informal means to help parties identify acceptable outcomes.

How can I be sure that my contact with the Office of the Ombudsman is confidential?

Confidentiality is the foundation of the office and is a fundamental principle in our professional Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. As a visitor to the office, you can expect that conversations with an ombudsman are confidential and off the record. The exceptions to confidentiality are disclosures of child or elder abuse and imminent risk of serious harm to self or the general public.

The agreement to maintain confidentiality is what allows the office to be an alternative channel of communication. An ombudsman will not disclose the identity of a visitor who uses the office nor disclose any information regarding a voiced complaint, concern or problem without the visitor’s expressed permission.

The office provides an alternative resource for a visitor to explore and consider options in order to make an informed decision.

If I am a patient with a concern, where do I seek help?

UC Irvine has a separate Patient Relations group dedicated to helping patients with their concerns. The telephone number for patient relations is 714-456-5080.