About the Office of the University Ombudsperson
The Office of the University Ombudsman was established in 1967 with the passage of Academic Freedom for Students at Michigan State University. The Academic Freedom Report, or AFR, as the document is called, spells out student rights and responsibilities, which the Ombudsman is charged with protecting. The office was the first office of its kind at any large university in the country and today remains the longest continuously operating college or university Ombudsman office in the country. In January, 2012, the title and office went from University Ombudsman to University Ombudsperson.
While nearly three-fourths of all annual contacts with the office are students at all levels, the University Ombudsperson also helps faculty, staff, alumni and parents find answers to their questions about university rules, policies and procedures. The University Ombudsperson, who reports directly to the University President, is not a student advocate but rather an advocate for fairness and justice. Operating in a confidential, neutral and independent manner, the University Ombudsperson assesses the validity of each complaint, concern or dispute, provides various options for resolving issues, and when necessary, actively investigates the problem to determine if student rights or university policies have been violated. The University Ombudsperson also assists all parties involved in academic grievance hearings, the final step in a student's effort to resolve a dispute.
Nearly 70 percent of all issues brought to the Office of the University Ombudsperson are related to academic concerns, such as academic status, registration problems and program requirements, and of these, problems that arise in the classroom continue to represent the largest number of contacts each year. These problems include grades, exams, attendance, allegations of academic dishonesty, and conflicts with instructors or thesis/dissertation directors.
Of the non-academic issues a majority of the contacts involve housing disputes and personal problems, such as privacy issues, medical or emotional concerns and harassment of any kind.
In addition to assisting members of the MSU community resolve disputes, the University Ombudsperson also is charged with identifying policies that appear out of date or flawed and recommending appropriate changes.
The Office of the University Ombudsperson is located in 129 N. Kedzie Hall. Phone 517.353.8830 to set up an appointment with the University Ombudsperson or the Assistant University Ombudsperson. To file an immediate request for help, contact the University Ombudsperson.