The University Ombudsperson
|Original Policy Source||Bylaws of Northern Illinois University - Article 20|
|Policy Approval Authority||University Council|
Governance / Administration
20.1 The Ombudsperson
The ombudsperson is a resource person whose services are available to any member of the university community. Duties of the ombudsperson include the following: Assist members of the university community in accomplishing the expeditious settlement of administrative, academic, and individual complaints or grievances; make reports and recommendations to the president concerning complaints or grievances for which no remedy has been found; report annually, in writing, to the University Council regarding the operation of the Office of the Ombudsperson, and provide an oral summary at a University Council meeting in the beginning of the penultimate year of the term.
20.2 Access to Documents
Whenever necessary to the resolution of specific complaints or grievances, the ombudsperson shall have access to all members of the university community and all university records and reports with the exception of medical, psychiatric, and psychological records which will be released only upon presentation of a notarized waiver signed by the individual whose records are requested.
20.3 The Office of the Ombudsperson
The president shall appoint a person to fill the position of ombudsperson from among a list of acceptable candidates submitted to the president by the Ombudsperson Search and Review Committee (OSRC).
20.3.2 Term of Office
The ombudsperson shall serve an initial term of six years, beginning on that incumbent's first day of service in office. The ombudsperson shall be eligible for reappointment to successive four-year terms if recommended by the OSRC.
The ombudsperson shall be responsible to the president for the discharge of the duties of the office.
The Office of the President shall provide the Office of the Ombudsperson with appropriate financial, secretarial, and office resources to fulfill its responsibilities. The ombudsperson shall annually submit a proposed office budget to the Office of the President.
20.4 Selection of an Ombudsperson
The selection of an ombudsperson shall be conducted by the OSRC, which is established by the University Council. A selection will occur when the current ombudsperson does not wish to be considered for another term, when the OSRC fails to pass a recommendation for another term, when the president decides not to reappoint the current ombudsperson for another term, or when other circumstances result in the position being vacant.
20.4.1 The OSRC will consist of the following:
- One undergraduate student appointed by the Student Association;
- One graduate student appointed by the Student Association;
- Two faculty members appointed by the Faculty Senate;
- One supportive professional staff member appointed by the Supportive Professional Staff Council;
- One operating staff member appointed by the Operating Staff Council;
- A representative of the university administration appointed by the president.
At the time of appointment, each appointee should expect to be available on campus for the full academic year.
- Committee chair - The committee shall select its chair from among the faculty members of the committee.
- Secretary - The university administration representative shall serve as secretary of the committee.
20.4.3 Voting Power
All members of the committee, including the chair, shall have the right to participate in all deliberations of the committee and to vote on all questions brought before the committee. All decisions and recommendations receiving a majority vote of the full committee membership will be deemed as passed.
The Office of the President shall provide the committee with appropriate financial, administrative, and other office resources to fulfill its responsibilities.
The committee shall insure that the constituencies served by the ombudsperson have the opportunity to interview the candidates and provide feedback to the committee regarding the acceptability of the candidates.
20.5 Review and Reappointment of the Ombudsperson
The performance of the ombudsperson shall be reviewed annually by the president.
In the beginning of the penultimate year of the ombudsperson's term, if the ombudsperson wishes to be considered for reappointment, a comprehensive review shall be conducted by the OSRC, which is established by the University Council.
See Articles 20.4.1-20.4.4.
At the beginning of the penultimate year of the ombudsperson's term of office, the committee shall determine whether the ombudsperson wishes to be considered for an additional term.
When the ombudsperson wishes to be considered for an additional term:
- The committee shall conduct a review of the ombudsperson's performance in office, using the operative job description for the office as a guide. The committee shall provide appropriate opportunities for input from members of the university community. Upon conclusion of its review, the committee shall make its recommendation regarding reappointment to the University Council, and such recommendation shall be subject to University Council approval. The University Council-approved recommendation shall then be communicated to the president prior to the end of the penultimate year of the ombudsperson's term.
- Simultaneously with the performance review, the committee shall also review the question of the continuing need for the Office of the Ombudsperson. The committee shall give consideration to the recommendations of the Student Association, the Faculty Senate, the Operating Staff Council, and the Supportive Professional Staff Council. Upon conclusion of its review, the committee shall make its recommendation regarding the continuing need for the Office of the Ombudsperson to the University Council, and such recommendation shall be subject to University Council approval. The University Council-approved recommendation shall then be communicated to the president prior to the end of the penultimate year of the ombudsperson's term.
Amendment approved by University Council on 04/09/2008.
Amendment approved by University Council on 04/30/2008.
Editorial updates: "Ombudsman" to "Ombudsperson" made 04/20/2012.
Amendment approved by University Council on 05/01/2013.
Amendment approved by University Council on 04/03/2019.
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