The Ombuds Concept
The origin of an ombuds program dates back to the 1700’s when King Charles XII of Sweden appointed a Chancellor of Justice to help maintain authority in the kingdom. In the 1800’s, Sweden’s parliament renamed the position Justitieombudsman, whose purpose was to oversee the observance of laws and statutes. The concept was brought to the United States in the 1960’s as universities attempted to address the eruption of protests and social unrest on campuses.
The Ombudsperson Role
Think of the Ombuds Office as a confidential help desk. The Ombuds Office is an independent unit charged with providing a service that is not biased towards any particular group, be it management or employee, supervisor or subordinate, student or faculty. The goal of the office is to help the LSU community manage conflict constructively and cooperatively, and to support positive change.
The Ombudsperson helps faculty, staff, administration, and students resolve barriers to productivity and increase the quality of their experience at LSU. The Ombudsperson encourages fairness and equity through:
Issue Resolution: Listening to concerns, identifying the core issue(s), creating and evaluating options for resolution
Communication & Outreach: Promoting awareness of the Ombuds Office and training (i.e. workplace civility, techniques on resolving disputes, having difficult conversations with supervisors or co-workers)
Systemic Change and Issue Prevention Identification: Listening, observing, contemplating, and adding information to identify trends or practices to senior management for systemic change or issue prevention
Authority of the Ombuds Office
The Ombudsperson has the authority to contact university personnel, to gather information in the course of looking into a problem, to mediate or negotiate dispute resolutions and to bring concerns to the attention of those in authority.
The Ombudsperson does not have the power to change University rules or policies, but can make recommendations for change to those with the authority to implement them. The Ombudsperson may also make recommendations based on perceived trends.
The LSU Ombudsperson, Retha Niedecken, is a trained and Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner® (CO-OP®), operating the Ombuds Office in accordance with the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics established by the International Ombudsman Association (IOA).