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The Ombuds Office

The WPI Ombuds Office helps faculty, students and staff address issues and conflicts that may arise at the university. The Office offers a safe, confidential place to express an individual’s concerns.

Christina DeVries and Dan Dougherty currently serve as Ombuds for the university and can be reached at ombuds@wpi.edu.  

The WPI Ombuds Office is currently working remotely.  Please contact us by emailing ombuds@wpi.edu.
 
Email should be used for initial contact only and not to discuss details of an issue.  We will provide meeting links or phone numbers for a discussion.

What an Ombuds can do?

The WPI Ombuds Office provides confidential, impartial, independent, and informal problem-solving assistance to students, faculty, and staff. It helps with complaints involving interpersonal, academic, and administrative misunderstandings or disputes and works to help individuals resolve their concerns fairly.

Some of the topics you may discuss with us include:

  • Interpersonal difficulties
  • Ethical dilemmas
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Incivility or rudeness
  • Health and safety concerns
  • Academic freedom
  • Protecting your reputation
  • Suggestions for improvement
  • Concerns about compensation, benefits
  • Advisor-advisee relations
  • Concerns about harassment, discrimination, abuse of power
  • Violations of WPI policy
  • Cultural misunderstandings
  • Workplace disputes
  • Performance appraisal, disciplinary actions
  • Appropriate ways to frame and discuss issues
  • Unprofessional conduct
  • Ways to make or accept an apology
  • Threats or retaliation
  • Working conditions
  • Grades, academic credit, intellectual property disputes
  • Supervisor-supervisee relations

What an Ombuds cannot do?

All communications made to an Ombuds are off the record. It is important to understand that speaking with the WPI Ombuds Office does not constitute formal notice to WPI and will not preserve a visitor's legal rights.

The Ombuds Office has no formal decision-making authority.  Bringing a grievance to the Ombuds Office does not constitute serving legal notice to WPI and the office may not participate in a legal proceeding.

The Ombuds Office does not provide legal advice or conduct formal investigations.

Ethical Principles

The WPI Ombuds Office is guided by principles upheld by the International Ombuds Association.  The four fundamental principles are below.

Confidentiality

The WPI Ombuds Office safeguards the identity of individuals and their issues and does not disclose confidential communications without permission from the individual visiting the Ombuds Office.

The Ombuds cannot guarantee confidentiality if there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.

Independence

The WPI Ombuds Office is independent in structure and function within the organization. The office reports to the President of WPI only for administrative and budgetary purposes.

Informality

The Ombuds functions on an informal basis by listening, providing, and receiving information, reframing issues, and developing options.   The Ombuds does not maintain permanent records or take an active role in any formal institutional investigative or adjudicative procedures.

Speaking with the WPI Ombuds Office about a concern does NOT constitute legal notice to WPI about a problem. Anyone wishing to put the Institution on notice may contact an administrator or invoke formal grievance procedures.

Impartiality

The WPI Ombuds Office is neutral, impartial, unaligned, and objective.  The Ombuds acts in consideration of and with respect for the legitimate interests and concerns of all affected parties.