University Ombuds

Our Services

The Ombuds Office offers a variety of services to its served community - faculty, staff, graduate students, medical students, and postdoctoral scholars.

The University Ombuds has skill and experience in conflict resolution, conflict coaching, facilitation, negotiation, and training. We offer a neutral, confidential, independent and informal place to have a quiet conversation, work out how to navigate a situation or organization, and problem solve.

Examples of How We Can Help

More particularly, the Ombuds Office can help you by: 

  • Providing a safe and confidential forum to surface individual and group issues
  • Listening and helping to clarify underlying issues and interests
  • Aiding in talking through thoughts and feelings about a touchy or thorny situation
  • Helping to think through the most appropriate strategies and approaches to an ongoing dispute
  • Assisting in developing and evaluating options or courses of action, and thinking through how to pursue them 
  • Offering an impartial perspective
  • Thinking through an agenda for a meeting to be efficient and constructive
  • Assisting in developing a structure for a difficult conversation or meeting; helping a visitor prepare for a negotiation
  • Looking into a problem informally (with permission from the visitor)
  • Providing information regarding policies, procedures, services and programs
  • Coaching and role-playing to help provide conflict management skills and enable the visitor to manage the issue themselves
  • Identifying appropriate resources or services inside and outside of Brown
  • Facilitating discussions and/or mediating disputes to resolve issues, when voluntarily agreed upon by the parties
  • Providing shuttle diplomacy by talking with parties involved in a matter separately, going back and forth between them, to help resolve a conflict
  • Collecting and evaluating data on emerging trends and patterns while safeguarding anonymity and confidentiality
  • Providing systemic feedback to appropriate stakeholders — while protecting the confidentiality of individuals — to support positive change
  • Training on conflict management topics
  • Utilizing summary data to create annual or special reports
  • Proposing recommendations for positive systemic and organizational change (based upon analyzing data)
  • Serving as a resource to committees and groups on conflict management matters and trends/issues seen in the Ombuds Office that relate to the employee/student experience

Importantly, the Ombuds Office is prohibited by the International Ombudsman Association's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice from doing the following:

  • Advocating for either party in a dispute; taking sides
  • Making, changing, or setting aside policies
  • Representing individuals or groups in formal hearings, processes, or procedures
  • Addressing matters that involve the terms and conditions of employment or are within the scope of collective bargaining
  • Providing legal advice or psychological counseling
  • Rendering judgments, investigating complaints, or making decisions on issues brought to the office
  • Acting as a witness in a formal grievance or process
  • Accepting notice on behalf of the University
The Ombuds Office offers informal mediation between two or more parties in a conflict. Informal mediation through the Ombuds Office is confidential and informal, making it a safe space to try to work out disputes before or instead of moving to formal and less confidential processes.
The Ombuds Office provides facilitation services to assist groups in managing conversations.
Sometimes parties to a conflict are unwilling or unable to meet in person or speak directly to one another.
The ability to manage conflict increases as we learn about and apply effective tools and strategies for navigating it. To support this learning, the Ombuds Office offers training on a variety of topics related to conflict management and effective communication.