The Office of the Ombudsperson is a resource for faculty, medical students and graduate students, residents, and fellows to assist in resolution of problems and conflicts.
The Ombudsperson, Norman H. Altman, V.M.D., serves as an independent, neutral and confidential resource. In assisting faculty the Ombudsperson may:
- Provide information regarding School and University resources
- Offer advice
- Engage in fact-finding on an informal basis
- Mediate conflicts
The Office of the Ombudsman at the Miller School of Medicine is a venue for addressing concerns, resolving conflicts, dealing with problems, and providing advice. This resource is available to faculty, residents, fellows, medical and graduate students. The Ombudsman serves as an independent, neutral and confidential resource by providing assistance as follows:
The Ombudsman Role
- Listens to concerns and discusses appropriate options
- Helps evaluate those options
- Assists in resolving problems
- Mediates conflicts, convenes meetings, engages in “shuttle diplomacy”
- Refers individuals to appropriate campus/university resources
What the Ombudsman Does NOT Do
- Adjudicate or participate in formal university grievance processes
- Determine guilt of any party in a dispute
- Participate in formal investigations
- Get involved in any formal litigation or testify in court
- Conduct investigations
- Provide legal advice
- Assign sanctions to individuals
- Replace the function of any official university office, department or process
- Maintain formal records of meetings and/or conversations
- Address any issues related to sexual harassment
Examples of Services Provided by the Ombudsman
- Helps resolve or mediate a dispute with an individual or group
- Helps decide how to approach a person who you feel is causing a problem
- Discusses how to approach an individual who has made an offensive or insensitive comment
- Assists when an individual is uncertain what University of Miami or Miller School of Medicine policies or procedures apply to their situation
- Assists when an individual needs advice on which university office or department to go to for an answer to a specific question or to obtain a particular service
- Helps when individuals feel they have been treated unfairly by anyone on campus
- Helps evaluate and select among a variety of options to address a concern with a fellow student, resident, faculty member or department
An Office of Ombudsperson will be established at the Miller School of Medicine. The Ombudsperson will be appointed by the Dean in consultation with the School Faculty Council.
The Ombudsperson informally assists in resolving conflicts, concerns or problems brought to their attention by University of Miami Miller School of Medicine faculty. These may involve but are not limited to issues regarding rights and responsibilities of faculty.
The Ombudsperson acts as a confidential and informal resource for information, a mutual communication channel, a complaint receiver, and dispute resolution facilitator. They act to foster communication between members of the campus community, promotes the values of fairness, equity, justice, equality of opportunity, and mutual respect. All inquiries are confidential unless the inquiring party gives the Ombudsperson permission to consult other persons.
Services of the Ombudsperson Office will be made available to all faculty of the UHealth community, at all facilities and sites. At the Florida Atlantic University site, these services may occur in conjunction with the FAU Office of Ombudsman as appropriate. The office will operate informally with records kept only as required by University policy and applicable law. The office will operate outside of the organizational structure of the school in accordance with generally accepted principles for such offices and will be a neutral participant in matters of conflict.
Code of Ethics
Four principles guide the work of the Office of the Ombudsperson: confidentiality, neutrality, informality, and independence.
The Office of the Ombudsperson maintains strict confidentiality. The only exceptions to this are:
- If we learn that there is a risk of physical harm to anyone.
- If we are ordered by a court to disclose information.
This makes the Office of the Ombudsperson a safe place to talk about any concerns, even those involving harassment, discrimination, violation of policies or laws, or unethical or criminal behavior.
In addition, the office does not serve as an office of notice. Speaking with the ombudsperson about a problem does not constitute formal notice to The University of Miami, and the office keeps no official records. However, consulting with the ombudsperson is a good way to learn of official policies and procedures, where to go to file a formal complaint, or how to notify university officials of a problem.
The Ombudsperson Office is impartial and does not represent individuals on either side of a conflict, though the office does advocate for fairness throughout the university.
The services of the Office of the Ombudsperson are informal. The office tries to help visitors resolve conflicts as early as possible and at the lowest possible level.
The Office of the Ombudsperson is independent from other university departments. The office reports to the Medical Faculty Council and the Miller School dean. However, the Ombudsman does not provide information on individual visitors’ cases. These principles also are described in the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics
For faculty on the Coral Gables and RSMAS campuses, please contact the University Faculty Ombudsperson.