The University of Cincinnati (UC) Ombuds Office, celebrating 50 years of continuous operation in 2020, works frequently on cases around evaluative relationships at the university; perceptions of fairness around policy and decision-making; matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and promoting transparent and appropriate communication among parties. As an organizational ombuds office, the UC Ombuds staff uses informal conflict resolution techniques and tools such as coaching, facilitation, mediation, and workshops.
About 2 years ago, the UC Ombuds Office positioned itself with a new team to make recommended improvements to the university via conflict dispute systems at various levels of the organization. A critical aspect of this project with the Harvard Dispute Systems Design Clinic involves leveraging the 50-year anniversary of the office to best understand how to effectuate the University Ombuds’ vision for the office.
Students in the Dispute Systems Design Clinic have been engaged to conduct a rigorous review of the office’s functions, its perceived effectiveness, and its reputation with campus stakeholders. This external review will assist the UC Ombuds Office in advancing its strategic goals and serving the university.
Activities & Deliverables
- Literature reviews for best practices of a public university Ombuds Office
- Various stakeholder focus groups and interviews
- Evaluation of public facing documents that the office shares
- A meaningful report for various level stakeholders
- Recommendations for office effectiveness based on best practices for Ombuds Offices and/or dispute resolution systems at a major public university
- Assistance in language or ways to talk about the services of the office to the general population for promotional use
- Use of review as a historical marker and publicity for the 50-year anniversary for the office