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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, now called "Student Rights and Responsibilitites" (SRR), spells out student rights and responsibilities, which the Ombudsman was 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.  The Office is currently comprised of a full-time University Ombudsperson, a part-time Assistant University Ombudsperson, and an Office Manager.

We carry out our duties in a neutral, confidential, informal and independent manner. Neutral: We seek processes that are fair and equitable to all parties.  The Office provides an impartial and objective resource for the University community.  Confidential:  Information concerning any visit will not be disclosed without the visitor's permission, absent compelling reasons (e.g., a court order or potential risk to safety).  On occasion, the Ombudspersons may, at the request of the visitor and if appropriate, contact another party and seek additional information or clarification to better understand the nature of the problem.  Informal: The University Ombudspersons listen, seek to understand, and provide information to help solve problems.  The University Ombudspersons do not participate in the formal grievance process. Independent:  The Office of the University Ombudsperson officially reports to the President but is independent of any University administrative structure.

The services of the Office are organized according to the above listed four principles. Consultation with a University Ombudsperson is completely voluntary; no one is required to use our services. Those who choose to consult with an Ombudsperson are understood to have agreed to abide by these principles, including not calling on a University Ombudsperson to testify with respect to confidential communications.

Campus disputes fall into two broad categories: academic and non-academic. The former includes instruction (e.g., grades, exams, academic dishonesty), registration (e.g., holds, late registration and drops and adds), academic hearings (e.g., grievance and disciplinary hearings) and academic status (e.g., admission to university or college, voluntary withdrawal and recess). Non-academic matters include financial aid (e.g., loans and work-study), housing (e.g., contract termination), and special problems (e.g., medical concerns and disruptive students). In addition to assisting members of the MSU community resolve disputes, the University Ombudspersons are also charged with identifying policies that appear out of date or flawed and recommending appropriate changes.

While nearly three-fourths of all annual contacts with the office are students at all levels, the University Ombudspersons also help faculty, staff, alumni and parents find answers to their questions about university rules, policies and procedures.

Nearly 70 percent of all issues brought to the Office of the University Ombudsperson are related to academic concerns, such as 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.

The Office of the University Ombudsperson is located in Room 129 of North Kedzie Hall. Phone (517) 353-8830 or email (ombud@msu.edu) to set up an appointment with an Ombudsperson. To file an online request for help, contact the University Ombudsperson.