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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the meaning of ombuds? I cannot find it in my dictionary.

The role of ombudsman originated in Sweden in the 19th century as an official appointed to receive and investigate complaints from citizens about government agencies. The name has changed with the times to ombudsperson or simply ombuds, and the focus has become to assist in resolving disputes. Ombuds are not advocates for either party but rather for a fair process.

What is the history behind the faculty and staff ombuds program?

The UW-Madison ombuds program is part of the University's efforts to enhance diversity and climate and grew out of recommendations of the Committee on Women in the University and the Provost's Campus Climate Network as well as other governance bodies.

What kinds of problems do ombuds deal with?

Our primary purpose is to help faculty and staff deal with disputes that arise in the work environment. We would like to help resolve problems before they escalate. We will work to help you sort out complex issues, identify options, and/or decide which university resource would be most appropriate to help with your issue.

Will my concerns be kept confidential?

Yes. The person who sees an ombuds is the one to decide whether the issue will go beyond the ombuds office. Please be reminded that the confidentiality of e-mail cannot be guaranteed. Email is fine for setting up an appointment, but please do not include personal or confidential information in email.

I am a student. Can I use the ombuds service?

Yes, if you are an employee at UW-Madison.  If you are not an employee or if you are simply unsure where to go for assistance, the Ombuds office may be able to refer you to other campus resources. For example, you may wish to contact the Division of Student Life (263-5700) about general student life concerns.

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