OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
The term “Ombudsman” is an English translation of the Swedish word umbuds man from the Old Norse umboosmaor, meaning representative. An Ombudsman is one who advocates for fairness, equity and administrative efficiency.
The Office of the Ombudsman is an informal resource built on three essential principles: independence, impartiality and confidentiality.
Purpose of the Office
The Office of the Ombudsman provides a safe and comfortable environment to discuss complaints, concerns or problems confidentially. When appropriate, the office will initiate an informal intervention with the goal of facilitating a resolution that is acceptable to all parties involved.
The ombudsman acts as an independent, impartial resource. If a matter cannot be resolved through our office, a referral will be made. When appropriate, the office can make recommendations regarding policy review and change.
The Office of the Ombudsman serves all students, faculty, staff and administrators of the UCI community – both on the main campus and at the medical center. The Office handles only UCI-related issues, and therefore we are unable to assist anyone with a non-UCI-related concern.
The Office of the Ombudsman offers an alternative opportunity to resolve complaints, concerns or problems in a timely and private manner. Users of the office are provided a confidential place to explore options to make informed decisions. The Office of the Ombudsman does not replace or substitute for formal grievance, investigative or appeal processes made available by the university. Also, the office does not have any authority to make decisions or enact policy.
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.
The office is neutral and does not represent the university or individual in matters brought to its attention. The office advocates for fairness and equity. When given permission, the ombudsman may assist in finding an informal resolution through mediation, shuttle diplomacy or by other means.
The Office of the Ombudsman is a voluntary resource independent of the university. Visitors to the office can expect that what they say will be kept in confidence. The ombudsman will not disclose any information without a visitor’s expressed permission. The exceptions to confidentiality are disclosures of child or elder abuse and imminent risk of serious harm to self or the general public.
The Office of the Ombudsman does not serve as an office of notice or record for the university. The office does not conduct formal investigations nor does it maintain or keep records. If the ombudsman deems it proper, he or she will refer visitors to the office most appropriate to his/her concern or complaint.
If the visitor wants to put the university on official notice for a policy or law violation, complaint or concern, he or she must contact his/her supervisor, manager or designated office of record for the university. In addition, the visitor is responsible for adhering to timelines or deadlines as stated per policy when filing formal grievances or appealing decisions.
The Office of the Ombudsman will strongly assert the protection provided by the California Evidence Code Section 1119 et seq. in resisting participation in formal or legal proceedings on behalf of the university or individual(s) using the office. Use of the office is voluntary. The Office of the Ombudsman accepts matters with the understanding that the user of the office will not depose or subpoena the ombudsman or staff members.