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 & Engineering:
Ombudsperson for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Professor Marie-Joelle Estrada
402 Meliora Hall
Phone: (585) 275-8685
Ombudsperson for the Natural Sciences and Engineering
Professor Jenn Brisson (she/her)
310 Hutchison Hall
Phone: (585) 275-8392
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 an ombudsperson believes a person is a danger to themselves or others, the ombudsperson is required to disclose this to the University Counseling Center and Public Safety.
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.