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Ombudsperson

What is an Ombudsperson

om•buds•per•son (om' budz púr' sen) n. - A person appointed to investigate facts and assist in achieving fair settlement of complaints brought by a student at the University against persons at all levels within the University's Mies Campus. In essence, the Ombudsperson is a mediator, who acts with neutrality and impartiality in an effort to achieve mutually agreed to outcomes.

Who Is the Ombudsperson

Vickie Tolbert, serves as the campus Student Affairs Ombudsperson for student who are having difficulties with Administrative departments. You can contact her by phone at 312.567.3081, by e-mail at tolbert@iit.edu, or by stopping by the Office of Student Affairs, Room 209 in the McCormick Tribune Campus Center.

Melisa Lopez, serves as the campus Academic Affairs Ombudsperson for difficulties with Academic affairs.  You can contact her by phone at 312.567.3642, by email success@iit.edu, or by stopping by the Academic Resource Office, Room 115 in Hermann Hall. 

What does the Ombudsperson Do

The Student Affairs Ombudsperson is dedicated to assisting students experiencing problems with any administrative department of the University's Main Campus by considering problems promptly, confidentially and fairly. The Ombudsperson works to achieve a fair resolution of disputes. The Ombudsperson works to protect the rights of all parties involved and is committed to justice and fair treatment of all students at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

The Academic Affairs Ombudsperson is available to assist faculty, staff and student employees address questions, concerns and complaints about academic affairs related issues. The two major areas of activity for Academic Ombudsperson involve student academic rights and violations of academic integrity. The primary task of Academic Ombudsperson is to ensure fair policies, processes, and procedures that are equitably implemented. Thus, the Academic Affairs Ombudsperson is a neutral office working as an advocate for fairness and equity.

What kinds of problems can the Ombudsperson help me with?

Contact the Student Affairs Ombudsperson if you:

  • have a problem with an Administrative Department/Office/Person at IIT and don't know how to proceed
  • find yourself entangled in bureaucratic redtape
  • need information about IIT policies or procedures
  • need someone to help resolve or mediate an IIT related dispute, or
  • feel that you have been treated unfairly

Contact the Academic Affairs Ombudsperson for issues relating to student academic rights and the commission of Academic offenses including, but not limited to:

  • Grade disputes
  • Academic issues related to disciplinary matters
  • Perceived favoritism
  • Fear of retaliation
  • Cross-cultural misunderstandings and personality conflict

The Ombudsperson does not handle disputes involving discrimination, sexual harassment or disciplinary matters. Any Student who believes that he or she has received inequitable treatment because of a discrimination or sexual harassment violation should communicate, either in writing or in person, with the Campus Affirmative Action Officer.

Campus Affirmative Action Officer

Candi Miranda
IIT Tower
19th Floor

Why Use the Services of an Ombudsperson

Both the Academic and Student Affairs Ombudspersons seeks to mediate disputes and/or disagreements. This is a voluntary, informal process. The Ombudsperson will, without taking sides, strive to resolve problems and conflicts especially those that are not being adequately addressed through regular channels. The Ombudsperson does not have the ability to mandate a particular course of action or outcome.

Professional, graduate, and undergraduate students as well as faculty contact the Academic Ombudsperson with a variety of questions and concerns.  Students often want to be pointed in the right direction while others want to discuss complex situations.   All inquiries are held in confidence.

The Ombudsperson is

Informal
The Ombudsperson will work with all members of the University community. The office tries to help students resolve conflicts as early as possible and at the lowest possible level. The office does NOT:

  • Conduct formal investigations
  • Play any role in formal hearing, grievance, complaint, appeal, or legal proceedings.
  • Maintain formal written records.

Independent
The Office of the Ombudsperson is independent from other university departments. 

Neutral
The Ombudsperson will not take sides in an issue or dispute, though the office does advocate for fairness throughout the university. She will assist in defining the problem, exploring options, or referring someone to the appropriate university personnel or office.

Confidential
Services of the Ombudsperson are confidential upon request except in cases of serious threat to life or property or if we are ordered by a court or required by law to disclose information. This makes the Office of the Ombudsperson a safe place to talk about any concerns, including but not limited to misconduct, discrimination, violation of policies, or unethical behavior.

The office does not serve as an office of notice. Speaking with an ombudsperson about a problem does not constitute formal notice to Illinois Institute of Technology, and the office keeps no official records. However, consulting with an ombudsperson is a good way to learn of official policies, where to go to file a formal complaint, or how to notify university officials of a problem.  The office keeps minimal information about a situation until our involvement ends, at which point the information is immediately shredded.  No one outside our office has access to this information.

These four principles guide the work of the ombudsperson and are also described in the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics.