University Ombudsman Helps Students Resolve Issues

Posted: April 21, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ryann Doyle

Dolores Gomez-Moran
Dolores Gomez-Moran

The Office of the University Ombudsman is an independent, neutral, informal and confidential resource that provides assistance to students in resolving university-related concerns.

Mason established the university ombudsman position in 1999; at that time the service was only for academic issues. In 2007, the responsibility of the university ombudsman was expanded to cover nonacademic issues as well.

“When students have issues of concern, they come here,” says Dolores Gomez-Moran, Mason’s university ombudsman. “Depending on the situation, we can give them the resources they need, help to analyze the pros and cons of the situation and can even conduct informal investigations.”

Issues encompass a wide range of problems, including suspensions, dismissals, incompletes, group dynamic problems, parking, dining services concerns or problems with professors, procedures or policies — whatever a student feels has not been properly resolved.

“Every case is different,” says Alex Simms, assistant to the university ombudsman since January.

“We hope you never have any issues and don’t need to come see us, but if something does come up it is nice to know that the resource is there. Over four years in college there are many problems that students can encounter and it is nice to know there are options.”

Gomez-Moran has been with the office since it was first established at Mason and helped to construct the program. Gomez-Moran had to educate herself, pursue her own training and learn the policies of the university.

“It was a very interesting process, developing this position. Little by little, I got more familiar with Mason’s procedures,” says Gomez-Moran.

Gomez-Moran says her position requires much critical thinking. Knowing how policies and systems work, as well as the people, enables her to come up with solutions.

“The solution is not always in a policy, and I don’t always see the solution right away,” says Gomez-Moran. “Most of the time the best solution is not one that just benefits one party, but the one that benefits everyone who is sitting around the table. Many situations require a lot of creativity.”

Gomez-Moran compares her job to putting together the pieces of a puzzle.

“Sometimes I start the puzzle by doing the border first, and other times I have to start with the interior, but at the end, all the pieces have to click,” says Gomez-Moran.

Gomez-Moran has a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Boston College and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Oviedo in Spain.

For more information about the Office of the University Ombudsman, see the web site.

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