Role of Faculty Ombudsperson
Disputes can happen among faculty members, and between faculty and administrators. Sometimes it is desirable to settle critical situations before they become serious disagreements. This is a necessary step to help avoid referring disputes to higher levels. Thus, one role of the Faculty Ombudsperson is to assist in seeking an informal resolution of disputes and to advise faculty members and administrators on the most appropriate courses of action.
Another role is to provide relevant information and referral in an effort to assist individuals get answers to questions or issues, and assist in the resolution of concerns. It is important to keep in mind that the Ombudsperson strives for impartiality, fairness, and objectivity while working on the resolution of contentious issues.
It is equally important to realize that the Ombudsperson does not advocate on behalf of any individual within the organization. Instead, the key role is to be a conciliator and an adviser. The judgement of the Ombudsperson cannot substitute that of appropriate administrative units.
The Ombudsperson is readily available to listen to parties involved in situations requiring mediation and to analyze the presented situation so that a resolution is sought before matters escalate and become more complicated. Whenever possible and necessary, the Ombudsperson can explain policies and institutional procedures to seek possible solutions to critical situations.
Current Faculty Ombudsperson
2021 - 2023: Jim Adair
Jim Adair was elected as the EMS Faculty Ombudsperson for the 2021 to 2023 term. He is a professor of Professor of biomedical engineering and pharmacology in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
The Ombudsperson position is an invaluable resource that can greatly benefit EMS faculty members and administrators to expeditiously seek resolution to potential disputes in a confidential and an informal manner. In considering concerns, the rights and the privacy of all involved parties are taken into account.
At the university level, Ombudspersons from all Penn State colleges meet at least once a year to learn the most common and effective strategies to serve faculty members and administrators reach resolution of disputes.