For the past couple of years, employees at UT Austin have been agitating for an ombudsperson for staff issues. The campus has long had ombuds offices for its 50,000 students and 2,900 faculty, but the workforce of 21,000 have never had a dedicated resource for confidential, neutral and informal conflict resolution.
That appears to be changing. Earlier this year, UT President Bill Powers asked the Staff Council to review
the subject and make a recommendation. Last week, the Staff Council overwhelming endorsed the concept and provided the president with a detailed report.
This report is an excellent reference for other universities
and institutions considering an organizational ombuds program. The report presents an overview of UT's existing conflict resolution services, ombuds best practices, services provided by peer institutions, and current literature.
The report presents five possible methods of implementation, including proposed budgets:
Full Time Staff Ombuds / Full Time Administrative Assistant ($140,000)
Full Time Staff Ombuds / Part Time Administrative Assistant ($118,000)
Full Time Staff Ombuds / 2 Graduate Interns ($98,500)
Part Time Ombuds (30 hrs/wk) / Part Time Administrative Assistant ($91,000)
Part Time Ombuds (20 hrs per week) / Part Time Administrative Assistant ($58,500)
First year start-up costs are projected to add $10,000.
In addition, to the specific proposals for UT, the report also provides a list of references, and sample job descriptions for the ombuds and administrative assistant. Inasmuch as most organizations contemplating an ombuds program keep their deliberations secret, the report from the UT Staff Council offers important insights and information. A decision on the proposal is expected soon.