Last Tuesday, December 1st, marked one year at NC State for its Faculty Ombuds – Roy Baroff. I’ve received strong support from across the university community (of that I’m truly thankful) and also seek to continue building the office. Its been quite a year and let me share a few reflections.
Early on, with the help of many faculty, staff, and administrators, we found an office location close by, but just off campus, and opened in late February. So far, faculty are finding the office with relative ease and the free parking is an added bonus! And, while the outside of the building may not be so elegant, inside, the Faculty Ombuds Office is comfortable and, more importantly, a safe place to raise and share issues of concern. The Faculty Ombuds Office is confidential.
Most of what I do as the Faculty Ombuds is listen. I generally take only a few notes as I’m not listening as a student in a class; instead, I’m listening so that the speaker will feel heard, so I can understand the situation, and connect with the feelings of concern. And, once heard, we discuss what the faculty member identifies as most important, and this often leads to options for moving forward. The Faculty Ombuds Office seeks informal resolution of issues.
Additionally, many times, my role as Faculty Ombuds, is to “just” listen. There is no specific outcome wanted or actions to take; instead, a faculty member wants their voice heard and not judged. And, that’s something I can do because not only do I hear each voice, the issues presented can also be confidentially shared with others across the university. My goals are to both assist individual faculty members and pay attention to larger issues that may warrant system consideration. The Faculty Ombuds Office is impartial.
Finally, my over arching goal for this first year has been to create an office that is both separate from and connected to NC State. While the office is independent in its structure and operations per its Charter, to serve the faculty community, it must also be a part of the university. Thus, I thank the many faculty members who have shared concerns whether in a visit to the office, over lunch, or coffee, at a meeting, or even a visit in your office. Thank you for helping me both connect and be separate from NC State.
Best wishes as the Fall semester and year winds down and it’s never too early to start your New Year’s Resolution – I resolve to visit the NC State Faculty Ombuds Office!
Roy Baroff- NC State Faculty Ombuds