In May of 2017, a working committee assembled by Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Robert M. Sellers recommended the appointment of a staff ombudsperson. This position was posted on April 23, 2018. Chief among the responsibilities for this position are providing university staff members with impartial conflict resolution services, information and referrals; serving as a campuswide resource for policy and procedures; acting as a liaison between individuals and university administration; identifying problems, trends and organizational concerns; and making recommendations for systems change.
In 2018, Dr. Jacqueline Bowman was selected to fill the position of Staff Ombudsperson and immediately began establishing the structures and partnerships necessary to support her role within the university’s DEI initiative. A central office was configured and has been fully operational since September of 2019, including the hiring of a limited number of professional staff members to provide consultation services.
The Office of the Staff Ombuds provides all eligible staff with an accessible conflict resolution process that is clearly defined, fair, equitable, free from reprisal and consistent with the university’s commitment to DEI. The staff ombudsperson builds collaborative partnerships across campus, helping to create an inclusive workplace by promoting a “speak-up” culture where staff feel safe and heard when addressing concerns. Last year, over 500 (new and return) appointments were facilitated, helping U-M staff to work through workplace conflict around climate and culture, communication and lack of transparency, and supervisory effectiveness and skills. Of staff members utilizing the office, 57% were from Michigan Medicine, 42% were from the Ann Arbor campus and 25% of the visitors held a management-status position, while 75% did not.