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The Ombuds Office at the University at Albany has officially opened its doors, with services for graduate students.

An Ombudsperson:

  • provides independent, informal, and non-partisan counsel to graduate students on matters relating to University experiences or involving dispute resolution or interpersonal misunderstandings, particularly those involving the graduate student's academic program or academic progress;
  • may serve as wise listener, counselor, mediator, or fact-finder, and may provide the student with feedback concerning questions, concerns, or complaints;
  • does not constitute part of the grievance procedure or the judicial system, although consulting with an Ombudsperson may lead a student to file a grievance, and has no formal decision-making authority over students who seek out consultation;
  • may suggest referrals to other resources available to students, but is not intended to be the only source of such referrals.

Ombudspersons at the University at Albany hold the rank of full professor or professor emeritus and have agreed to be available to students by means of phone, e-mail, and in-person conferences. Ombudspersons receive no remuneration for their services to students and to the University. Their appointment reflects the trust of their peers in their fairness, their understanding of the position of graduate student, and their knowledge concerning the academic organization of the University at Albany.

The Ombuds Office is a "virtual" office that uses University space mutually-agreed upon by student seeking help and the Ombudspersons, and is normally the Ombudsperson's faculty office. Ombudspersons report in generic terms, with all identifying information removed, to the Ombuds Committee created by Senate Bill 0405-13. The Ombuds Committee appoints and trains Ombudspersons and monitors the number of consultations the Ombudspersons receive in order to make certain that there are a sufficient number of Ombudspersons available to meet the needs of graduate students.

The Ombuds Committee includes, as ex officio members, the current chair of the Graduate Academic Council (GAC), the Dean of Graduate Studies, the Provost, the Vice-Chair of the Senate, University Counsel or designee, the Affirmative Action Officer, GAC-appointed faculty members, and Graduate Student Organization (GSO)-appointed graduate students.