The Ombuds Office is dedicated to supporting UW-Madison faculty and staff. The following is a list of commonly asked questions about the office and its services.
How should I contact the Ombuds Office and when are ombuds available?
UW-Madison employees who wish to talk to an ombud should call the Ombuds Office at 608-265-9992 and leave a message. Employees may also contact the office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; however, contacting the office by phone offers more confidentiality.
Although the office is not staffed for drop-in visitors, ombuds rotate weekly on-call duties, monitoring the phone and email, and responding to all inquiries. Generally, ombuds meet with individuals or small groups in the conference room in the Lowell Center. Ombuds are also available to meet at other locations when preferred or more convenient.
When can I meet with an ombud?
Employees may schedule a visit with an ombud during their normal work hours. Under some circumstances, it may be necessary to receive approval to leave an assigned work area. If an employee wants to access services completely confidentially, the employee may consider the use of approved leave, scheduled break time, or schedule a consultation with the ombuds outside normal work hours.
Will my concerns be kept confidential?
Yes. The visitor (person who sees an Ombuds) decides whether the issue will go beyond the Ombuds Office. It is important to remember that the confidentiality of email cannot be guaranteed. Email is suitable for setting up an appointment, but visitors should not include personal or confidential information in the message. For more information on confidentiality, view UW-Madison’s Ombuds Code of Ethics.
Does the Ombuds Office keep any records?
To protect visitors’ confidentiality, ombuds do not create or maintain documents or records for the university about individual matters. The only information retained from contacts by visitors is that regarding demographics and types of challenges, issues and concerns. These data are not associated with visitors’ names or any other identifying information such as department or school/college/division.
I am a student. Can I use the services of the Ombuds Office?
Yes, if you are an employee at UW-Madison and you wish to discuss a workplace issue. If you are not an employee or if you are simply unsure where to go for assistance, an ombuds may be able to suggest other campus resources. For example, you may wish to contact the Division of Student Life about general student life concerns.
Do ombuds respond to anonymous complaints?
No. Without the opportunity to discuss the situation or concern with the employee, understand essential details of the concern and potential outcomes the employee seeks, an ombuds cannot respond with suggestions, options or strategies for potential action or resolution. The ethical standard of confidentiality and supporting practices for the office and each visitor (employee) protects identity.
Is the Ombuds Office authorized to receive reports of university policies or of unlawful practices?
No. The Ombuds Office is not designated by UW-Madison as an entity authorized to receive reports of university policies or of unlawful practices. Therefore, communications made to ombuds regarding possible violations do not constitute notice to UW-Madison. This provision ensures the freedom of ombuds to work independently and confidentially with individuals seeking assistance.
The Ombuds Office is required to report aggregate statistical information for Clery Act reportable disclosures received.
How do I decide whether to contact the Ombuds Office or the Employee Assistance Office?
UW-Madison provides the Ombuds Office and Employee Assistance Office as complementary resources to support employees in managing challenges and conflicts in the workplace. To help employees decide which resource to use, refer to “Distinguishing the Services of the Employee Assistance Office and the Ombuds Office.”
What does the Ombuds Office report to campus?
Each August, the Ombuds Office submits an annual report to the provost. The report is subsequently distributed to the campus governance groups and made available to the general university community. The report provides general information about visitor demographics, issues and concerns they have experienced, any trends or patterns observed, and recommendations for improving campus climate for employees.