New Ombuds Office to offer confidential support for conflict resolution to faculty and staff

Professor Jill Crainshaw has been named the first campus ombudsperson.

Professor Jill Crainshaw has been named the first campus ombudsperson.

Wake Forest University has established an Ombuds Office as a resource to provide informal, confidential, impartial and independent resolution of conflicts, disputes or issues to all Reynolda Campus faculty and staff – both full and part-time.

Wake Forest joins colleges and universities nationwide that have created ombuds offices to provide a sounding board and conflict mediation for faculty and staff. In addition, the office will serve as a resource to the University for identifying opportunities for systemic organizational change.

Jill Crainshaw, Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology in the divinity school, has been named the first campus ombudsperson. Crainshaw is a member of the International Ombuds Association and has completed the official Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice course as well as courses related to conflict mediation. She is also a FaithInstitute certified “Healthy Boundaries” instructor and has taught at Wake Forest for more than two decades.

“My thanks to Dr. Crainshaw for her willingness to serve in this vital role,” said Provost Rogan Kersh. “I’m also grateful to the Faculty Senate, which helped shape Wake Forest’s version of this Office, and to Medical School leadership, where the Ombuds Office established last year will be a valuable collaborative partner.”

The new ombuds office provides an opportunity for faculty and staff to have informal, confidential conversations about work-related challenges or conflicts and explore possible responses and resolutions. These may be related to actions, omissions, improprieties or broader problems. The ombuds office will listen carefully to the individual requesting support and mediate disputes independently and impartially.

“I am honored to introduce the University community to this important work. I think of the Ombuds as a navigator. When employees find themselves in complex or tangled work situations, the Ombuds can help them to find their way through those situations toward healthy responses and resolutions,” said Crainshaw. “The great gift of the Ombuds is the confidentiality and impartiality we offer to those who seek off-the-record conversations. I am pleased that the University has decided to offer faculty and staff this space where they can receive confidential support.”

Wake’s Ombuds Office will be guided by the foundational principles supported by the International Ombuds Association: confidentiality, impartiality, informality, and independence.

All consultations are conducted off the record. The Ombuds Office will provide information on whom to contact and how to use formal administrative or grievance procedures for faculty/staff wishing to establish a formal record or who want formal consideration of their complaint.

For more information about the office or to request support, please visit ombuds.wfu.edu, email the Ombuds Office at: ombudswfu@nullgmail.com, or call 336-972-9182.

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