The University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) is a recognized model of excellence for urban public research universities. The scenic waterfront campus, with easy access to downtown Boston, is located next to the John F. Kennedy Library and Presidential Museum, the Commonwealth Museum and Massachusetts State Archives, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
One of the five campuses of the UMass system, UMass Boston is a research university with a teaching soul. The University combines rigorous focus on the generation of knowledge that characterizes a major research university with a dedication to teaching that places its top scholars in undergraduate and graduate classrooms where a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio fosters optimal student-faculty interaction. UMass Boston’s is the most diverse student body among New England universities and the third most diverse of all four-year institutions in the country. The University has a growing reputation for innovation and a particular focus on research addressing complex urban issues. As metropolitan Boston's only public research university, UMass Boston offers its faculty, staff, and students both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city.
This is an exciting time for the University as it is completing a new ten-year strategic plan and launching a new branding campaign that will further propel UMass Boston forward as a university of and for the times. The University maintains a strong commitment to all aspects of diversity and inclusion, including anti-racist and health promoting initiatives. UMass Boston is proud to be an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI).
Consistent with its commitment to equity and an ethic of care, the University has undertaken to create the new role of University Ombudsperson. Reporting directly to the Chancellor, the Ombudsperson will be responsible for introducing this new role to, and establishing it on, the campus. The Ombudsperson is a neutral resource for impartial dispute resolution. The primary duty of the position is to provide confidential and informal assistance for any member of the university community -- including students, faculty, and staff—who has a problem or concern. The Ombudsperson will use individual or group mediation, reconciliation, personal counselling, group workshops, and other means aimed at empowerment among individuals and groups, with sensitivity to those subjected to inequitable conditions. In addition, the Ombudsperson is responsible for developing systems for ongoing and systematic analysis of policies, patterns, and trends and providing recommendations for policy and campus climate improvements that can contribute to the goal of restorative justice across campus. This position supplements, but does not replace, the University’s existing resources for formal conflict resolution.
Functioning with the level of independence appropriate to the role, the Ombudsperson does not accept notice on behalf of the University. While maintaining confidentiality of communications, at the direction of the Chancellor the Ombudsperson may periodically report to the university community as appropriate based on anonymous and aggregate data. The Ombudsperson also may assist the Assistant Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in assessing the climate of the campus as necessary and appropriate.
The Ombudsperson considers all sides of a question impartially and objectively, explains and clarifies the University’s established policies and procedures in collaboration with the campus leaders responsible for the same, and actively represents the University's commitment to fundamental fairness in its community. The Ombudsperson will bring to the appropriate campus community member’s attention any policies, programs, or institutional decision that they believe may require amendment; however, they do not have the authority to order changes in rules, regulations, policies, procedures, or the behavior of others. In this key leadership role, the Ombudsperson will be responsible for collaborating as appropriate with the University’s general counsel and pertinent offices such as the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX, human resources, the provost’s office, and student affairs.
Examples of Duties
Dispute Resolution, Consultation, and Referral
- Provide impartial and confidential consultation to members of the University community who are aggrieved or concerned about an issue.
- Remain independent, neutral, and impartial, and exercise good judgment.
- Maintain effective, civil, and respectful working relationships with the University community and uphold a high standard of cultural competency and respect for difference that represents UMass Boston’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Use knowledge of and experience with current University policies and procedures in resolving concerns, and assist students, faculty, and staff in interpreting University policies and procedures.
- Employ a wide variety of problem-solving techniques to assist students, faculty, and staff, including listening, helping to clarify problems, identifying and evaluating options, referral to other resources as necessary, and coaching on effective conflict management.
- Assist inquirers in clarifying issues and generating options for resolution and facilitate the inquirer’s assessment of the pros and cons of possible options.
- When possible and with the permission of the individual or individuals, consult with all parties to clarify and analyze problems, focus discussions, and develop a mutually satisfactory process for resolution, collaborating with other divisions as appropriate.
- Obtain the individual or individuals’ agreement and permission before taking any direct action that may be appropriate.
- Follow up with inquirers as appropriate to determine outcome and further need of assistance.
Integrity and Cultural Competency
- The Ombudsperson must model and practice the highest standards of professional integrity and have an established track record of dealing fairly, effectively and in a timely fashion with all constituents. The Ombudsperson is cross-culturally competent and sensitive to cultural issues within the university.
- The ombudsperson’s role is based on the offer of near absolute confidentiality. Therefore, the ombudsperson must keep information confidential and must use good judgment about when and how such information can be shared, while being mindful of maintaining professional standards that are consistent with the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the International Ombuds Association.
- Ensure that the integrity of the function is maintained by upholding International Ombuds Association’s standards of independence, neutrality, impartiality, confidentiality, and informality, while providing timely attention to the resolution of issues and treating people with dignity and respect.
Policy Analysis and Feedback
- Serve as a campus resource for officials in formulating or modifying policies and procedures.
- Act as a liaison between individuals or groups and the campus administrative structure, serving as a communicator or informal facilitator, as appropriate.
- Function as a sensor within the campus community to identify problems or trends that affect the entire campus or significant parts of the community; if appropriate, recommend creative ways to address these concerns.
Establish/Maintain the Ombuds Office
- Provide presentations to campus stakeholders about the work of the Ombuds Office; develop and provide workshops on conflict management, civility, and related topics.
- Oversee the collection and management of caseload data. Use the data to inform the Chancellor and devise campus communication initiatives for the community.
- Actively participate as a member of the International Ombuds Association and engage in relevant professional development.
- Demonstrated ability to maintain effective working relationships at all levels of administration (Vice Chancellors, Deans, Directors, and Office of the President, including General Counsel).
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
- Proven experience in working constructively, effectively, and respectfully in diverse settings with people of different cultural, racial, ethnic, national, religious, and gender backgrounds, while appreciating the unique contribution of an inclusive workforce that brings together people's talents.
- Support Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion community outreach, education, and other efforts as appropriate.
- Maintain a level of openness and objectivity so as to understand issues from different perspectives. Innovate in developing options that are responsive to differing needs.
- Knowledgeable about and sensitive to the adverse impacts of racism and colonialism at societal, institutional, and personal levels.
Organizational Knowledge and Networking
- An ombudsperson must be knowledgeable about the college or university — its structure, culture, policies, and practices. The ombudsperson must have excellent networking skills, understand and participate in initiatives in collaboration with others and be able to establish and maintain broad contacts throughout the organization.
- Provide excellent people-first service to members of the community through reliable, responsive communication and support.
Demonstrate outstanding communication skills and ability to effectively transmit and interpret information effectively with individuals at all levels of the organization, internally and externally.
- A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
- International Ombuds Association certification as a Certified Organizational Ombuds Practitioner® (CO-OP®).
- A minimum of 5 years of experience as an ombudsperson, with a demonstrated track record of success in the role.
- Extensive progressively responsible experience in higher education, human resources, law, social science, psychology, education, public administration, conflict management, and/or a similarly relevant field.
- An expertise in restorative justice practices.
- A demonstrated commitment to and understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Strong presentation skills, and ability to organize and communicate information to groups of varying size and hierarchical levels in the organization.
- Adherence to the highest standards of professionalism and ethical practice.
- Excellent listening, interpersonal, and written and verbal communication skills.
- Demonstrated ability to maintain confidentiality and integrity.
- Demonstrated effective problem-solving skills.
- Advanced degree in a relevant discipline preferred.
- Management and supervisory experience preferred.
- Experience as an ombudsperson at an institution of higher education strongly preferred.
Please apply online with your resume, cover letter and list of three references.
Review of candidates will begin as soon as possible.
Salary Range: Commensurate with experience
This is a non-union exempt position.
All official salary offers must be approved by Human Resources.
UMass Boston requires all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to confirm proof of their vaccination status. Exemptions from the vaccine requirement will be permitted only for qualifying religious or medical reasons.