Accountable to the Board of Trustees through the University Culture Committee, and the Senate, the University Ombudsperson is an independent, impartial and confidential resource for students, staff, and faculty with diverse backgrounds and identities to receive guidance and advice about their university-related concerns and complaints regarding university policies, procedures, and decision-making structures. The Ombudsperson may receive any university-related inquiry, concern, or complaint from any member of the university community, and may conduct an inquiry notifying those in authority, and providing recommendations with a view to remedying an individual situation, and/or identify any policies, rules or procedures that appear unclear, inequitable, or unfair. Committed to Indigenization, equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility and anti-racism (I-EDIAA) principles, the Ombudsperson assists members of the university community to explore and evaluate options, and to determine an appropriate course of action with an aim to resolving disputes before they escalate. The successful resolution of complaints contributes to the development of a supportive and inclusive environment for all students, staff, and faculty across the university.
The Ombudsperson interacts with all levels of administration including, but not limited to Associate Deans, Deans, the Provost, Vice-Provost (Student Affairs), the Principal and Vice-Principals, University Counsel, external lawyers, Student Wellness Services, and Campus Security to provide expert advice and recommendations on a wide variety of complex matters at the university.
- Responds to queries/issues raised by senior and academic administrators, students, faculty, and staff, investigating the background to the query/issue, providing information and/or possible solutions and, in circumstances of conflict, building consensus and resolution dependent upon a number of variables including university, faculty or staff policies, history and precedent.
- Provides regular reports to Senior Leadership and the Board of Trustees on operations and matters of strategic importance.
- Mediates complaints according to university policies or upon request of the parties to a dispute. Through impartial advice and administration, ensures and sustains the credibility and integrity of each process. Advises decision-makers on the rules of procedural fairness and the application of university policies.
- Conducts thorough and objective investigations regarding both individual and systemic issues with a focus on rigorous fact-finding, fairness, timeliness, and attention to detail.
- Identifies potential security concerns or institutional risks within issues raised with the Office of the Ombudsperson. Identifies and mitigates risks that are not straight forward or apparent, arising from separate issues.
- Identifies and reports on any policies, rules or procedures associated with the university’s academic mission and related support services that appear unclear, inequitable or unfair. Makes recommendations on revisions to existing policies, rules or procedures and/or advises on the development of new policies, rules or procedures.
- Provides assistance to individuals responding to allegations of sexual misconduct. In doing so, takes into consideration the university’s legislative responsibilities regarding reports of sexual violence, the university’s Non-Academic Misconduct (NAM) procedures, and the principles of procedural fairness.
- Serves on a number of committees, working groups and task forces involved in work related to: Non-Academic Misconduct, Academic Accommodations, Academic Integrity, Student Services, Human Rights and Equity and Sexual Violence Prevention and Response.
- Conducts workshop sessions on specific topics for particular groups, or on general topics for a range of participants (e.g. procedural fairness workshops applicable to Advisors, Associate Deans, Appeal Board Chairs, AMS Judicial Affairs Office and Judicial Committee).
- Participates in professional development to maintain knowledge of changes to relevant laws and regulations, working with key stakeholders to understand the operational and procedural impacts such changes may have on the university.
- Creates a positive and inclusive work environment that supports and promotes a culture where a diverse range of ideas and perspectives are incorporated into decision-making.
- Plans, prioritizes and manages the work of employees, providing strategic and tactical advice, guidance and coaching. Identifies the need for staff resources, participates on staffing committees, and makes effective recommendations regarding employee selection that takes into account the principles of employment equity.
- Manages performance by establishing performance standards, reviewing and evaluating performance and conducting formal performance reviews on an ongoing basis. Assesses staff training and development needs, and ensures that employees receive training required to improve and sustain successful performance.
- Investigates addresses and resolves employee/labour relations issues, including disciplinary matters. Makes decisions or effective recommendations on matters involving possible discipline, discharge and probationary termination.
- Undertakes other duties as delegated.
- An advanced degree (Master’s, LL.B. or J.D.) preferred and a minimum of ten years of professional related experience in a university or business setting or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience in a discipline related to dispute resolution, mediation and negotiation.
- Knowledge of administrative law, tribunals, and procedural fairness. Ability to mediate grievances where parties are represented by lawyers.
- Experience and knowledge applying relevant provisions of legislation e.g. Ontario Human Rights Code and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and university obligations. Knowledge of labour relations, grievance procedures, and employment-related legislation, and familiarity with the university’s Human Resources policies and procedures.
- Proven ability to work effectively within a culturally diverse environment.
- Experience in the development and/or review of policies and procedures/guidelines in an academic setting (committee process, collegial decision-making, student government, residence systems) to enhance operational effectiveness, limit legal exposure, and manage institutional risk. An understanding of university faculty culture would be an asset.
- Experience with and understanding of the Queen’s University environment, its structure, governance, procedures, and constituencies, student governments, and student services.
- Understanding of the business requirements of an academic institution, the ability to identify and respond to the needs of university departments, and the ability to interpret and revise their academic appeals procedures.
- Experience with an Ombuds function will be considered an asset