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Florida Gulf Coast University

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University Ombuds

Office of University Ombuds
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Contact Information
Dr. Helen Mamarchev
University Ombuds
Linda Cento
Coordinator
Florida Gulf Coast University
Edwards Hall, Suite 213
10501 FGCU Boulevard, South
Fort Myers, Florida 33965-6565

Telephone: (239) 590-7405,
(239) 590-1022, or via TTY: 711

Fax: 239-590-7407

FAQ

 
 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

What does the word, “Ombuds,” mean?

The Ombuds is an appointed, impartial, and independent person who helps members of the FGCU community resolve matters by offering informal, confidential explorations of options.

The word, “Ombudsman,” comes from Scandinavia in the 18th century, where the term applied to a public official appointed to investigate citizen complaints against government agencies. The purpose of the Ombuds Office is to assure that problems can receive an impartial review. (From The Ombudsman Handbook, 1994.)

Who can use the services of the University Ombuds?

All members of the FGCU community (students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents.)

Why is there a University Ombuds?

Florida Statute 1006.51 created at each community college and state university an Ombudsman Office which is accountable to the University President. The Ombuds assists FGCU community members in resolving problems and conflicts.

The FGCU Office of the University Ombuds serves as a prompt, impartial, and confidential means of facilitating dialogue between parties on campus, and as a means apart from formal methods of resolving disputes. The purpose is to provide the highest quality client-focused services for preventing, managing, and resolving conflicts.

The University Ombuds Office acts as a source of information and assistance to FGCU community members concerning University-related rules, regulations, and procedures. Some examples of such problems may be related to grades, differences of opinion with instructors, or other academic matters that need resolution.

What does the term, “confidential,” mean?

All conversations with the University Ombuds are confidential, unless authorized by the complainant or otherwise required by applicable law, including without limitation, Chapter 119, Florida Statutes. Confidentiality will be broken if there appears imminent harm to the complainant, others, or to the University.

What resources could be explored before contacting the University Ombuds?

Speak directly with the party involved to try to resolve the situation.

If you cannot resolve the situation, go to the next level of appeal, e.g., department chair, director, dean, vice president.

Consult the appropriate handbook for rules, regulations, and procedures, e.g., Undergraduate or Graduate Catalog, Student Guidebook, Faculty or A&P or USPS Handbook.

How can the University Ombuds help me?

The University Ombuds can help you in many ways, such as:

  • listening carefully to complaints and concerns;
  • helping analyze the situation;
  • looking into a concern, including talking with involved parties, and reviewing pertinent documents and policies, procedures, and problem-solving   channels;
  • mediating discussions between individuals in a dispute or problem situation;
  • helping define options; and
  • following up to make sure a concern is resolved and also may recommend changes in University policies or procedures.

When should I contact the University Ombuds?

Contact the University Ombuds Office as a place of last resort to handle disputes in an informal manner or anywhere along the way for other matters. As an example for grade issues, academic advisors, department chairs, deans, and directors should be consulted first.

The University Ombuds has the authority to contact senior officers of the University to gather information if a situation requires exploration, to mediate or facilitate informal disputes, to bring issues to the attention of those with authority to address concerns, to expedite administrative processes, and to make recommendations for change in policy or practice when appropriate.

Any member of the FGCU community who needs assistance may contact the University Ombuds, Dr. Helen Mamarchev, at 239-590-7405, AB 5 – 213.

When is it not appropriate to contact the University Ombuds?

When you want legal advice and/or representation. The University Ombuds can advise you of your rights within the University, but provides no legal advice.

When you have a non-university-related problem or dispute. The University Ombuds does not address disputes between FGCU community members and those outside of the University.

When you want someone to advocate for you in a dispute. The University Ombuds is a neutral facilitator, has no stake in the outcome, and is not an advocate for either side, but considers the rights and interests of all parties involved in searching for a fair resolution to the situation.