Mason Ombudsman Stands Ready to Help Students

Posted: March 30, 2011 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: March 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm

By Robin Herron

Dolores Gómez-Morán, university ombudsman

If you weren’t specifically looking for it, you could walk right by the Office of the Ombudsman (Johnson Center, Room 245) without knowing it was there.

But for students who have problems negotiating university policies or feel they have been treated unfairly by their instructors, the office is a beacon.

Dolores Gómez-Morán is the university ombudsman, and she stands ready to act as an impartial mediator in directing student concerns and complaints.

Gómez-Morán, who has been university ombudsman since 2007, was recently credentialed as a Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner from the Board of Certification of the International Ombudsman Association. The Board of Certification was established in 2009, and Gómez-Morán is part of the first group to be certified, which includes about 25 other university ombudsman practitioners. The association is the only organization in the world to offer ombudsman certification.

A year ago, the Office of the Ombudsman adopted the association’s new Uniform Reporting Categories, which reflect current best practices.

With the new reporting categories came a new formal database system and a new intake form.

From June 1 through May 31 of the 2009-10 academic year, the first year the office operated under the new categories, the Office of the Ombudsman received 182 visitors. This number represents a 14 percent increase from the previous year, and a 35 percent increase in cases from 2007-08.

The reporting categories, some of which relate to faculty and staff members, and the percentage of total issues and number of issues for 2009-10 are as follows.

1. Compensation and Benefits: less than 1 percent (1)

2. Evaluative Relationships: 31 percent (96)

3. Peer and Colleague Relationships: 3 percent (8)

4. Career Progression and Development: 1 percent (4)

5. Legal, Regulatory, Financial and Compliance: 3 percent (9)

6. Safety, Health and Physical Environment: 4 percent (11)

7. Services/Administrative Issues: 49 percent (150)

8. Organizational, Strategic and Mission Related: less than 1 percent (1)

9. Values, Ethics and Standards: 9 percent (28)

Total: 308 issues

Some other interesting facts about the office from this time period show

  • The busiest times of the year for the office are August, December and April.
  • The percentage of males and females seeking assistance from the office nearly mirrors the gender percentage in the student population (55 percent female, 45 percent male).
  • About 7 percent of the clientele is faculty or staff members.

While Gómez-Morán says, “It’s always good to see faces when you’re having difficulties,” she also offers to communicate with people via Skype, online chat or other electronic communication methods if necessary. For contact information, see the website.

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