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 Ombuds 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 Ombuds helps faculty, staff, administration, and students resolve barriers to productivity and increase the quality of their experience at LSU. The Ombuds 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
The Ombuds Process
- Listen to Concerns
- Gather Information
- Propose Solutions
- Follow Up
Authority of the University Ombuds Office
The Ombuds has the authority to contact university personnel, to gather information in the course of looking into a problem, to informally mediate or negotiate dispute resolutions and to bring concerns to the attention of those in authority.
The Ombuds 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 Ombuds may also make recommendations based on perceived trends.
Organizational Ombuds Practitioner Certification
The LSU University Ombuds, Retha Niedecken, is a trained and Certified Organizational Ombuds Practitioner® (CO-OP®), operating the University Ombuds Office in accordance with the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics established by the International Ombuds Association (IOA).