University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Presidential Orders

Executive Order

No. 18

The University Ombud

1. Policy
  The University of Washington is an academic community dedicated to expanding and sharing knowledge and serving the public. Its mission is supported by systems and policies intended to promote effectiveness, efficiency, integrity, and fairness.

In order to reinforce organizational accountability to these systems and policies and sustain constructive institutional relationships, it is important that faculty, academic employees, staff, and students of the University of Washington have a safe environment to voice questions and concerns, and have constructive alternatives by which to assert their rights and interests and seek resolution of problems and conflicts. The position of University Ombud is established to further these policy objectives.

2. Responsibilities
  The responsibilities of the University Ombud are:
  • To help individual members of the University community explore and assert their rights and interests within the University; and

  • To improve the fairness and effectiveness of the University's systems and operations.
3. Nature of the Office
  The University Ombud operates separately from, and does not replace, any other system of University governance or any internal complaint or appeal procedure. The Ombud is not a decision-maker and has no power or authority to formally investigate, determine who is right or wrong, take corrective or disciplinary action, or alter any University rule or policy. Instead, the Ombud serves as an additional resource to all members of the University community, offering an independent, impartial, informal, accessible service by which they may voluntarily explore a variety of paths for addressing their questions, concerns, and complaints.

4. Actions of the University Ombud
  In carrying out these responsibilities, the University Ombud:

  • Practices and promotes the treatment of all individuals with respect and dignity.

  • Acts as a source of information and assistance available to all members of the University community concerning operations, policies, and procedures of the University;

  • Assists any member of the University community in his or her efforts to bring concerns to the attention of appropriate University units or officers and works with the persons involved to resolve complaints and disagreements;

  • Uses his or her professional judgment in deciding how and whether to respond to requests for assistance, including bringing a complaint or identified problem to the attention of the appropriate University unit or officer; and

  • Recommends to appropriate University authorities such changes in operations, policies, and procedures as are deemed necessary or may improve the effectiveness of the organization.
5. Use of Information
  The University Ombud will be discreet in the use of information received in the course of the work of the Ombud and exercise appropriate care in its recording, retention, and protection. Sensitive information voluntarily provided to the Ombud will be shared by the Ombud only when disclosure is legally required or when a compelling public interest will be served. If circumstances or laws require disclosure to other campus officials, as in cases of potentially unlawful activity or where there is a risk of harm to the individual, others, or the welfare of the community, such disclosure will be done with the knowledge of the person who provided it, to the extent possible. All available privileges and legal protections will be used to resist unwarranted disclosure to others.

6. Non-Retaliatory Action
  No individual shall suffer any form of retaliation for bringing a matter to the Ombud or for cooperating with or participating in the Ombud process, nor shall an employee suffer any loss of pay for reasonable time spent working with the Ombud.

7. Appointment of the Ombud
  The University Ombud shall be appointed by the President after consultation with representatives of students, staff, and faculty, and is subject to confirmation by the Senate Executive Committee.

June 1, 1972; February 21, 1978; February 24, 1986; February 13, 1988; February 13, 2006; February 22, 2013.

For additional delegations of authority, see:

  • Board of Regents Governance, Bylaws, Article V, "Officers of the University"
  • Board of Regents Governance, Standing Orders, Chapter 1, "Delegation of Authority"
  • Board of Regents Governance, Standing Orders, Chapter 6, "Authority for Washington Administrative Code Rule Making"
  • Executive Order No. 1, "The Office of the President"
  • Executive Order No. 4, "The Provost"
  • Executive Order No. 6, "The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), UW Medicine and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine, University of Washington"
  • Executive Order No. 7, "The Vice President for Minority Affairs"
  • Executive Order No. 11, "The Vice President for External Affairs"
  • Executive Order No. 12, "The Deans"
  • Executive Order No. 14, "Chancellor, UW Bothell and UW Tacoma"
  • Executive Order No. 62, "The Vice President for University Advancement"
  • Administrative Orders: Delegations of Authority