Case Examples

Here’s a sample of cases that come to the Faculty & Staff ombuds office.

Faculty

1. Faculty member contacted office to learn about ombuds services for a colleague who had a serious health issue.  Colleague with health issue met ombuds to review situation and developed a strategy to deal with health issue and continued departmental work.

2. Department Head sought assistance with internal faculty issues of concern. Set up process that included individual faculty member meetings, summary of issues shared faculty wide, and ongoing facilitation with small working group to address certain issues.

3. Faculty member working on project with faculty outside NC State and a conflict developed. Wanted to discuss options for how to address either directly or with departmental support as both faculty work in same geographic area and will need to potentially work jointly in the future.

4. Faculty member working on software related project with intellectual property concerns. Project work included various forms and contributions including student, contractor, and various locations. Faculty Ombuds made confidential contact with Office of Institutional Research and Office of General Counsel to inquire about the issues raised. Provided general information and process information and contacts for faculty member to pursue as determined.

5. Faculty member working on grant submission concerned about level of college research office support. Reviewed steps taken to date and developed plan for additional steps. Faculty member commented that issues surrounding the situation made it feel like a “cloud of isolation” and talking it over and “thinking about options” helped clear the air.

6. Faculty member contacted Faculty Ombuds due to perceived personal safety issue within department. Situation reviewed and referral made to the BAT (Behavioral Assessment Team) for information and support. BAT team determined review was warranted, investigated the situation, and determined there was no safety issue.

7. Tenure track faculty with questions and concerns about meeting departmental expectations and staying within the tenure track. Reviewed and discussed RPT process, current circumstances, and future goals in order to develop a strategy for moving forward. Provided referral information and made confidential inquiry to learn about tenure clock extension considerations.

8. Department Head and faculty member sought facilitation assistance to discuss communication concerns and retention considerations. Discussed a range of issues with acknowledgement and agreement about staying at NC State.

9. Faculty that used own material for a class and wanted information about how to handle situation. Ombuds made confidential inquiry to learn about how Conflict Of Interest situations are handled including how and whether a management plan might be needed. Provided information to faculty about process so that additional steps could be taken.

10. Faculty member was apprised of some teaching issues as it related to classroom management and came to ombuds to discuss and consider next steps. Developed strategy and identified additional resources.

11. Non-Tenure Track faculty member shared concerns about continued employment while also trying to make plans about whether to seek positions elsewhere. While discussions were generally supportive with department leadership, the uncertainty was creating timing challenges in terms of the job market. Developed strategies for additional discussions with leadership and provided referral information for promotion process information.

12. Faculty member met with ombuds as part of retirement transition. Faculty member referenced how much the academy had changed over time and that s/he had not really kept up with building local department relations and that as career was winding down, did not have the local support desired. Discussed transition strategy along with resources available to assist faculty member.

Staff

1. Staff member with new unit leadership brought concern about being cut off from information believed to be needed to effectively do the job.  Former leader established an open environment with collaboration across units and routinely shared information with a senior team for use and dissemination.  New leader disbanded the senior team and no longer allowed access to leadership meetings and did not encourage collaboration. Staff member explained that after more than 20 years at NC State, s/he both preferred and thought it was necessary for there to be a collaborative environment. Staff member wanted to ask leader about approach.  Through discussion with the ombuds a strategy was developed. The idea was to connect with an ally of the leader and pitch the idea of using a collaborative team as a pilot for a specific project. In this manner, the staff member could find out about the leader’s approach without framing it as “me vs you” and instead as us trying to solve a problem together.

2. Staff member concerned about appropriate resource use by individual in unit. Discussed options ranging from direct conversation, discuss with program director, internal audit, and not taking any action. Follow up indicated that individual brought up the issue with program director and others in leadership position that led to review and decisions that resolved the situation.

3. Staff and faculty member had a dispute about publication of data. Assisted resolution by facilitating the sharing of information to clarify situation.

4. Change in leadership led to change in management style. While prior manager let folks in unit do their work, new leader was perceived as micro-manager and causing difficulty in function of unit. Discussed strategies to bring up differences and frame constructively instead of focusing on negative aspects.

5. Staff member raised concerns about unit/department reorganization, its impact on position, along with supervisor gender treatment differences. Discussed options including self-care via the FASAP (Faculty and Staff Assistance Program), whether and how to address issues in the workplace, and consideration of contacting the Equal Opportunity and Equity staff at OIED.

6. Staff member called at 3:30 pm on a Friday afternoon and was quite upset with an issue of immediate concern. A decision impacting office location had apparently been made without the staff member’s input and there were several concerns including safety and security that may not have been addressed. Staff member was being directed to pack up and move.

Staff member and ombuds discussed the situation and developed an interim strategy – the staff member would respond to the person making the move request (not the immediate supervisor) and ask that since it was late on a Friday, to shift any move to the first of next week, and for the staff member to seek a meeting with direct report to review issues.  Information about the FASAP program was also shared in case staff member wanted additional support.

On the following Monday morning ombuds received a call that the strategy had worked, that the staff member was scheduling a meeting with direct report, and would share issues of concern.  Staff member also indicated that if a move was directed, then it would be done; however, by meeting with the direct report, staff member felt part of the decision even if it was only to raise certain issues of concern.