The Office of the University Ombudsman offers a safe place where community members may discuss problems or issues within the University. The Ombudsman treats all inquiries as confidential, as described in our Ethical Principles below. We assist visitors in several ways:
- Provide a welcoming environment to listen to visitor concerns
- Provide information on University policies and practices
- Provide information on how to make the University aware of a particular problem
- Discuss and assist the visitor in evaluating available options
- Refer the visitor to the proper authority to resolve the situation
- Facilitate constructive dialogue
- While maintaining confidentiality, provide upward feedback to the administration (or others in authority) when a systemic issue or trend occurs
The Ombudsman assists visitors in a variety of ways consistent with our mission. The Ombudsman does not take a side in disputes. Overall, the Ombudsman is an advocate for fairness and equity.
The Office of the University Ombudsman is available to all students, faculty and staff affiliated with all units of Cornell University, excluding the Weill Cornell Medical College.
The Ombudsman operates according to the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
The Ombudsman is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree possible within Cornell.
Neutrality and Impartiality
The Ombudsman, as a designated neutral, remains unaligned and impartial. The Ombudsman strives to promote procedural fairness in the content and administration of Cornell’s practices, processes, and policies. The Ombudsman does not engage in any situation that could create a conflict of interest.
The Ombudsman holds the identity and all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so, except as required by law, or where, in the judgment of the Ombudsman, there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.
The Ombudsman, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to his/her attention. As an informal resource, the Ombudsman is not authorized to accept notice (formal complaints) for Cornell University. Moreover, because the Ombudsman holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, subject to the limited exceptions detailed above, the Ombudsman will not forward information received in confidence.
The Office of the Ombudsman was established on the basis of these ethical principles. We offer a unique setting where community members may talk about issues in a candid and authentic manner without fear of reprisal. As part of Cornell’s Caring Community, our efforts are geared toward managing conflict, thereby improving the student life experience and the work environment.
The Office of the Ombudsman is a voluntary program and no one is required to use Ombudsman services. If a community member (visitor) chooses to meet with an Ombudsman, the visitor will be understood to have agreed to abide by these ethical principles, including agreeing not to call the Ombudsman to testify with respect to confidential communications.