Ombuds staff operate informally, independent of the formal organizational structure of the University. Professional staff in the University Ombuds office are appointed by, and report to, the President of the University. They work to resolve concerns, complaints and questions about University policies, procedures and practices.
Ombuds staff act in a neutral, impartial and confidential manner in assisting faculty, staff and students. They are trained in accordance with the standards and ethics of the International Ombudsman Association. They serve as advocates, not for any individual, but for fairness, equitable treatment and respect throughout the University community.
Ombuds listen carefully to visitors (faculty, staff and students) in confidence. They provide advice and options and information on University policies and procedures, make inquiries and, when appropriate, referrals to other University resources.
They facilitate communication between parties and may agree to be present in a meeting with you and another party. Or they may arrange for formal mediation when both parties agree. They have access to any other University office. They maintain the confidentiality of information received.
Ombuds do not serve as advocates or adjudicators nor do they make decisions about University policy. They cannot compel anyone to accept their recommendations. They act outside the usual administrative procedures, but they do not subvert them. They are not involved in formal investigations or compliance functions. Ombuds do not take sides. They do not offer legal advice. Contact with the office is not regarded as official notice to the University.
Call the office when you experience an issue or concern that you are not able to resolve through the usual channels of communication at the University or when you do not know how to resolve it. Workplace complaints, such as discrimination, supervisor/employee disputes and preferential treatment, professional misconduct and instructor/student issues are examples of problems dealt with by the Ombuds office. University policy provides assurance that you will not suffer reprisal for seeking the services of the office. To contact the Ombuds office, call 678-839-4165 or visit www.westga.edu/ombuds.