What's an Ombuds?

Our definition of an ombudsman is an individual of a neutral party that hears and attempts to resolve complaints and disagreements through mediation, recommendations and conflict resolution coaching within the university amongst various stakeholders, including but not restricted to their students, staff and faculty.

The Eastern Michigan University Office of the Ombuds not only adheres to the EMU Mission and Values but also the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for the Ombuds profession as derived from the International Ombuds Association.

We are an independent, informal, confidential, neutral and impartial office that helps in conflict resolution, support and guidance about institutional policies and procedures.


The Office of the Ombuds cannot represent any party in allegations of violations of the law or other formal complaints. Our office is a neutral and confidential body. No individual or employee of the university may pressure, demand or force the Office of the Ombuds to disclose information even for formal grievance or lawsuits. Utilizing services offered by the EMU Office of the Ombuds, visitors agree to abide by its confidentiality standard of practice and terms of use.

International Ombuds Association (IOA) Standards of Practice

  • Independent

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    The Ombuds is independent in structure, function and appearance to the highest degree possible within the organization.

    • Independent of all other organizational entities
    • Holds no other position within the organization which might compromise independence
    • Has access to all information and all individuals in the organization, as permitted by law
  • Neutral and Impartial

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    The Ombuds, as a designated neutral, remains unaligned and impartial. The Ombuds does not engage in any situation which could create a conflict of interest.

    • Strives for impartiality, fairness and objectivity in the treatment of people and the consideration of issues
    • Serves no additional role within the organization
    • Does not report to, or is structurally affiliated with, any compliance function of the organization
  • Confidentiality

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    The Ombuds holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.

    • Holds all communication with those seeking assistance with strict confidentiality and takes all reasonable steps to stay in it
    • Does not reveal, and must not be required to reveal, anything about any individual contacting the office
    • Does not testify in any formal process inside/outside the organization regarding contact with the office or information communicated
    • Communications made to the office are not notice to the organization - the ombuds neither acts as agent for, nor accepts notice on behalf of the organization
  • Informality

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    The Ombuds, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to his/her attention.

    • Functions on an informal basis: listening, providing and receiving information, identifying, re-framing issues, developing a range of responsible options and with explicit permission from individuals requesting help: engaging in informal third-party intervention
    • Does not make binding decisions, mandatory policies or formally adjudicate issues for the organization
    • Does not participate in any formal investigative procedures
    • Helps identify trends, issues and concerns about policies and procedures

Please refer to the IOA Code of Ethics [PDF] and the IOA Standards of Practice [PDF] for further details about the IOA Standards of Practice.

Read Eastern Michigan University's mission, vision and values.

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