UW-Madison Ombuds Code of Ethics

Four principles guide the work of the ombuds:

  • Confidentiality
  • Impartiality
  • Informality
  • Independence.

These principles also are described in the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics.


The Ombuds Office maintains strict confidentiality. Ombuds will not discuss your concerns with anyone on or off campus without your permission. The only exceptions to confidentiality are:

  • If we learn there is a risk of physical harm to anyone
  • If we are ordered by a court or required by law to disclose information

This makes the Ombuds Office a safe place to talk about your concerns. The Ombuds Office in the Lowell Center is located away from UW-Madison administrative offices. In addition, visitors can request to meet with an ombuds offsite and outside of regular business hours.

Speaking with an ombuds about an issue does not constitute formal notice to the UW-Madison. Consulting with an ombuds, however, is a good way to learn about official policies and procedures, where to file a formal complaint, or how to notify university officials of an issue.


Ombuds work to promote a fair and equitable workplace for all UW-Madison employees. Ombuds do not represent or advocate for individual visitors.


The services of the Ombuds Office are informal. The office strives to help visitors resolve issues as early as possible and at a local level, whenever feasible. The office does not:

  • Maintain formal written records
  • Conduct formal investigations
  • Play any role in formal hearing, grievance, complaint, appeal, or legal proceedings


The Ombuds Office is independent from other university departments. The office reports to the provost, but does not provide information on individual visitors or their cases.


This language was adapted from University of Iowa Office of the Ombuds person Code of Ethics.