Office of the Staff Ombuds: Supporting Our University Staff

The newly established Office of the Staff Ombuds provides a unique service to non-bargained-for staff on the U-M Ann Arbor campus and at Michigan Medicine: a free, confidential, and informal exploration of available options for navigating workplace concerns.

Our Staff Ombuds is Dr. Jacqueline (Jacquie) Bowman, a dedicated member of the U-M community with previous experience in creating a positive and equitable workplace through conflict resolution as an ombudsperson at various institutions and as the lead counselor and program specialist at the Center for the Education of Women (CEW+). Donna Hooper, program specialist in the Office of the Staff Ombuds has a background in staff culture and inclusivity and supports the office with her nine years of institutional knowledge. The Office of the Staff Ombuds operates within a code of ethics and standards of practice provided by the International Ombuds Association (learn more on their website).

Here’s what they do:

  • They offer informal dispute resolution services that are confidential and off the record, including consultations, facilitated discussions between the involved parties, referrals and resources. 
  • They provide a safe place for staff to explore conflict resolution options and provide tools to support those paths.
  • They provide a caring, impartial and non-judgmental space for staff to share concerns, evaluate options, prepare for difficult conversations and improve their conflict management skills.
  • They work collaboratively with campus resources to help create options for resolutions.
  • They serve as a neutral resource to empower staff to determine what steps are in their best interest.

Here’s what they don’t do:

  • They don’t “fix” problems!
  • They don’t replace campus resources such as those that support human resources, legal matters, and counseling.
  • They don’t conduct formal investigations or any other formal processes (and must step back if a formal process occurs to maintain the integrity of the office).
  • They do not make decisions for the staff member. The staff member always drives the process in a way that makes them feel most comfortable towards the resolution path they choose.

 

Dr. Jacqueline Bowman, Staff Ombuds

Donna Hooper, Program Specialist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacquie says, “Our purpose is to empower staff, so they can make informed decisions and see a path forward. I love providing a safe place where staff can share their story and be heard. ”

The Office of the Staff Ombuds supports a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture at U-M by adhering to the principles of fair and equal treatment and promoting a civil and positive work environment. While they never share information about a staff member or their situation, they are able to track themes of issues staff are dealing with and share those themes with leadership, so that leaders have a better understanding of staff and culture. This can improve our campus culture and help us progress toward a more equitable and positive community.