A charter signed recently by President Michael Benson will provide the organizational backbone of the University’s Ombud office.
According to Joan Beck, who serves faculty and staff in the ombud position, the charter “sets out in greater detail the responsibilities of the ombud to the University, the limitations of the ombud and the manner in which the ombud functions.”
The charter, Beck continued, provides guidance to the ombud, “a point of reference for how the work of conflict resolution gets done. It also advises faculty and staff what they can expect when calling on the ombud for assistance. It adopts the Standards of Practice of the International Ombudsman Association for this office, and expounds and limits those standards to create a fuller understanding of the role of the ombud in the organization.”
The office was established in 2017 to give EKU faculty and staff a new avenue for dispute resolution and functional improvement. Beck brought with her considerable experience in the field when she was named to the post. From 2003 until 2010, she served as citizens’ advocate/ombudsman with Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. She went on to work as a private consultant, facilitating strategic planning and conflict resolution workshops for non-profit groups. Previously, she was owner and managing attorney for a law firm in Wisconsin.
The charter, drafted by an ad hoc committee (pictured above) composed of EKU faculty and staff, creates a relationship between the president’s office and the office of the ombud, who reports directly to the president.
“Conflict in the workplace is a key factor in poor productivity, low morale and high turnover, all of which are very expensive to an organization,” Beck said. “It also makes it just plain hard to go to work and do a good job. By addressing and resolving conflicts early and informally, we are able to improve job performance and morale, and deepen job satisfaction.”
The EKU ombud position is part time. Beck is normally available Monday-Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The hours can be varied to accommodate faculty and staff schedules.
“An ombud is a valuable resource to faculty and staff, and consultation is better earlier rather than later,” Beck said. “Whether for coaching, meditation or facilitation, the ombud can help you find the solution that works best for you.”
Inset photo: President Benson with the signed charter