Graduate Studies Office

Current Students

Ombudspersons

While graduate study is an exciting and intellectually stimulating time in a student’s career, occasionally problems arise. There are many people to whom students can turn for advice when facing problems: faculty advisor(s), departmental director of graduate studies, department chair, Dean of Graduate Studies. However, sometimes students may feel unable to approach any of these people for help, and this is when a student should turn to the Ombudsperson.

There are two Graduate Student Ombudspersons for Arts, Sciences and Engineering:

Ombudsperson for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Professor Richard G. Niemi
Harkness 321
Phone: (585) 275-5364
Email: niemi@rochester.edu
Ombudsperson for the Natural Sciences and Engineering
Professor Kara Bren
448 Hutchison Hall
Phone: (585) 275-4335
Email: bren@chem.rochester.edu

Each of these ombudspersons is a faculty member who can provide confidential, impartial and independent advice to help graduate students address their concerns. The Ombudspersons provide a resource for and information about institutional policies and act as facilitators to help students resolve their problems, connecting students with those who can help, accompanying the student in discussions of problems or issues with faculty or administrators, and acting as an informal mediator between the student and faculty or administrators. The Ombudspersons can also help to effect positive change by providing feedback on patterns of problems and complaints to appropriate administrators.

Students can contact either Ombudsperson for general questions. For questions related to the student’s particular field of study, students are encouraged to contact the appropriate Ombudsperson for that discipline. Discussions with the Ombudspersons can be through email, phone or in-person.

Confidential. Discussions with the Ombudsperson will normally operate under a rule of confidentiality. It should be understood, however, that if a problem disclosed to the Ombudsperson involves a violation of law or University policy, the Ombudsperson may be required to disclose the problem to the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Office of Counsel.

Impartial. The Ombudsperson considers the interests and concerns of all parties to disputes, with the goal of achieving fair outcomes. The Ombudsperson does not participate in any formal grievance process.

Independent. The Ombudsperson is independent of the academic administration and only reports on patterns of problems to administrative officers in order to effect positive change for graduate students.