At URI, the Ombud is a confidential, objective, last resort for problems with University procedures and processes.
The ombud idea and the name came from Scandinavia in the 18th century. The original ombud was an officer of the parliament who investigated complaints from citizens who felt they had been unfairly treated. If the complaint was justified, he sought a remedy.
The size, impersonality and complexity of modern universities made this type of representative of the individual increasingly desirable on college campuses, and in recent years many universities have adopted the idea of the ombud.
URI has had an Office of the Ombud since 1972 and from the beginning it was apparent that it filled a very real need.
The primary function of the Ombud is to provide a system for handling individual problems and complaints about University processes. The Ombud has no authority to reverse or alter decisions by other university officials, for instance to change grades, or reinstate a student.
There are two Ombuds at the University:
Gerry Tyler, Professor Emerita, Political Science
Al Killilea, Professor Emeritus, Political Science
138A Roosevelt Hall
If you think that you have been dealt with unfairly by a faculty member or by an administrator or staff member at URI, you may want to enlist the services of the Office of the Ombud in seeking a remedy. Normally you should first appeal to the person most directly involved in your complaint and then, if necessary, to his/her supervisor before coming to the Ombud. In the case of a contested grade in a course, for instance, you should first speak to the faculty member and if that is not effective, you should speak to the department chair and then, if necessary, to the dean of the college in which the course is offered. If you find it especially difficult to undertake this appeal process, you may want to have a preliminary talk with an Ombud, who may suggest an alternative course of appeal. Keep in mind that there are many trained professionals beyond the Ombud at University College, Student Affairs, the Counseling Center, the Affirmative Action Office, and many other offices ready to help students with a grievance.
The Ombud helps the student or other members of the University community solve his or her problem by:
Giving needed advice and direction
Investigating conflicts in confidence
Clarifying matters by interviewing all parties concerned and by researching the problem
Mediating and suggesting solutions or compromises in disputes
Ensuring due process