FAQs

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  • What is the Ombuds Office?
  • The Ombuds Office is an independent resource that provides confidential, neutral, and informal conflict management and problem solving for the UC Davis community.
  • What does the word ombuds mean?
  • The position of ombudsman was originally created in Sweden in the 1800s. In Swedish, it literally means representative, from Old Norse "umbothsmathr," from "umboth" (commission) + "mathr" (man). The Swedish Parliament appointed an ombudsman to resolve difficult problems in the absence of the country's abducted king. In more recent times, ombuds programs have been created throughout the world to assist citizens, consumers and employees who wish to address concerns about administrative actions or lack of action. In the United States, the various types of ombuds functions are utilized in state and local governments, nursing homes, the media, colleges and universities, corporations, prisons and agencies of the federal government.

    Ombuds history excerpted from the University and College Ombuds Association handbook.

  • Who does the Ombuds report to?
  • Under the UC Davis Charter Of the Ombuds Office, the Ombuds Office reports to the Office of the Chancellor for administrative and budgetary purposes only and functions independently with respect to case handling and issue management. The Office of the Chancellor supports the independence of the Ombuds Office.
  • What if I want to talk to the Ombuds Office "on the record"?
  • The Ombuds Office is not an office "of record," and speaking to an Ombuds does not constitute legal notice to the University that a problem exists. The Ombuds does not keep files on visitors and does not perform formal investigations or participate in formal procedures. If a matter becomes the subject of a formal grievance or legal action, an Ombuds will not testify or participate in any way. However, the Ombuds can help you identify offices that will keep a formal record of a situation. 
  • Does the Ombuds Office charge for its services?
  • No. All of the services of the Ombuds Office are free.
  • Is the Ombuds an advocate for those who use the office?
  • No. The Ombuds does not take sides in a dispute. We do not advocate for individuals nor do we decide who's "right" or "wrong." The interests and rights of each individual involved in the problem are carefully considered with the aim of promoting a fair, balanced and civil process to effectively resolve the issues raised. 
  • Who can use the services of the Ombuds Office?
  • The Ombuds Office serves all members of the UC Davis and UC Davis Health communities including undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and researchers, staff members (including supervisors, managers, and administrators), faculty members, lecturers and academic appointees, parents of UC Davis students, alumni, and members of the public with a UC Davis related concern.
  • When can I meet with an Ombuds? 
  • Meetings are generally scheduled between 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday. If you are in need of a meeting outside of this time, please call the office and we will do our best to accommodate.
  • Who will I meet with? How are Ombuds assigned?
  • You will meet with an experienced Ombuds based on availability for the time of your requested appointment. If you have visited the Ombuds Office before, we will try to make your appointment with the same Ombuds you have seen previously.
  • I am in an off-campus location, and it is not convenient for me to come to the Ombuds Offices at the UC Davis Sacramento or Davis campuses. How can I meet with an Ombuds?
  • The Ombuds Office serves the entire UC Davis community, including those members of the community in off-campus locations, such as labs, extension offices, etc. The Ombuds Office meets with off-campus visitors by phone appointment and can potentially make alternative arrangements as needed.
  • What should I expect during my meeting? Do I need to bring anything?
  • Meetings are generally scheduled for 90 minutes, whether you end up requiring the full amount of time or not. We will spend a brief amount of time explaining our role and then you are free to talk about your presenting concern(s). After you have finished discussing the situation, we will begin working with you to generate possible options, informing you of relevant polices/procedures, and making necessary referrals. You do not need to bring anything, but if you have documents (contract, email exchanges, etc.) that you think are pertinent to your concern, you are welcome to bring them. We will return those documents back to you at the end of the meeting since we do not keep records.
  • Can an Ombuds come work with our department?
  • We would be happy to meet with you to discuss any training needs and interpersonal or group challenges your department may have to explore the possibilities. An Ombuds can help identify a range of potential approaches your department could take to address these needs and challenges, which could possibly include training and/or team interventions by an Ombuds.
  • Can I send my employees to the Ombuds Office for individual appointments or mediation?
  • The Ombuds Office works with visitors on a strictly voluntary basis. Managers and Supervisors are welcome to refer employees to the Ombuds Office as an option for their own personal and individual consideration.
  • Why doesn’t the Ombuds use email?
  • The Ombuds Office does not use email for substantive discussions because it creates a record and it is not a confidential means of communication. In order to maintain the confidentiality of our visitors, the Ombuds Office does not keep records and will shred any documents used in the context of a case. We will respond to electronic requests for appointments by telephone.
  • Can I get legal advice from the Ombuds?
  • The Ombuds Office does not provide legal advice or analysis.