Ombuds Officer

 
The mandate of the Office of the Ombudsperson for Students is to ensure that students are treated fairly in every aspect of university life.  The Office serves all students and is an independent and confidential resource for students who need assistance and guidance on existing policies and procedures as well as help in resolving concerns or conflicts related to fairness issues.  The Office conducts investigations into student complaints that result in reports to the relevant authorities with  recommendations related to fair practices, processes and outcomes.  The Office will also support and train faculty and staff in best practices to ensure fair treatment for students.  

The Ombuds Officer is the first point of contact for all student inquiries and communications and is responsible for providing effective and sound advice, referrals and support to students requesting assistance. The Ombuds Officer also provides administrative and related duties to maintain a well-functioning office and supports effective promotion and accessibility of the Office's resources and services.
   
Organizational Status
 
     
Under the general supervision of and reporting to the Ombudsperson for Students, the Ombuds Officer is responsible for providing students (and other visitors to the office whom the Ombuds Officer determines are within jurisdiction to receive Ombuds services) with advice and information on a wide range of fairness issues and with support in facilitating conflict resolution.  The incumbent works collaboratively with faculties and units across campus to facilitate constructive resolution of student concerns.

The Ombuds Officer reports directly to and works closely with the Ombudsperson.  The Officer communicates and interacts with all members of the university student community including graduate, undergraduate, visiting, international, continuing education, post-doctoral fellows, medical residents, prospective, and former students, as well as alumni in dealing with problems, concerns and conflicts.    The Officer communicates and interacts with all members of the university community including administrative and academic units.  The Officer may also interact with external community contacts such as case workers, legal representatives, parents, and advocates.
   
Work Performed
 
     
Undertakes the case management of student concerns related to fairness,  including fair decisions, fair treatment, fair processes and policies,  and fair outcomes.  Provides information and support, including identifying and explaining relevant policies,  offering advice and strategies to explore options,  assessing students' capacity to carry out plans, coaching and consultation, collaboration and referral to additional or alternative resources within UBC; informal facilitation and resolution of inquiries and concerns. 

Uses case management skills to provide impartial, confidential,  and independent advice and feedback to faculty, staff, students and administrative heads of unit in relation to student policies  and processes available for academic appeals, academic or non-academic misconduct, interpersonal conflict, housing appeals, or other problems a student may encounter at the university, related to fairness or conflict.

Assesses immediate personal safety of individuals who visit the office in crisis and makes appropriate referrals as required to offices including Early Alert, Counselling Services, Centre for Accessibility, Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Office, Independent Investigations Office, Equity & Inclusion Office, Campus Security and Student Health.  Responds appropriately and compassionately to students in distress or emotional upset and supports them to access resources as needed.

Works in an environment which requires ability to adapt easily to changes in work procedures, including meeting deadlines and volume which may not be known in advance.  Duties may have quick turnaround times. Failure to meet deadlines may result in students' losing access to appeal routes or timely decisions. 

Demonstrates human relations qualities such as empathy, compassion, respect, and civility in all interactions.

Establishes good working relationships across campus, including Enrollment Services Advisors, Academic Advisors, Program Managers and other administrative staff in gathering information on student policies, identifying processes, timelines, and so forth.  Also communicates with faculty members and senior academic administration on student cases.

Serves as a resource to students and the University community on any matter related to the student's experience of fairness at the university including:
- Identifying, interpreting and explaining relevant UBC policies and procedures
- Exploring options on how best to proceed and make effective referrals
- Providing guidance and informal coaching to help plan strategies
- Clarifying goals and promoting problem-solving
- Empowering students to deal directly and effectively with their concerns, in writing and in person
- Facilitating discussions and using informal channels to seek resolution
- Giving sound, practical advice
- Listening and providing an objective perspective

Works closely with the Ombudsperson for Students to identify and address recurring student concerns including  conflicts, and cultural, systemic or structural issues related to fairness  that are not effectively addressed through a case management approach.  Works collaboratively with the Ombuds Officer, Okanagan in a mutually supportive manner regarding cases and to ensure consistency of approaches and to build knowledge and competencies across the offices on both campuses.

Works closely with the Ombudsperson  to develop communications and educational materials on the mandate of the Ombuds Office and the services provided by the Office. 

Maintains current knowledge of  relevant sections of the UBC Academic Calendar (university-wide policies such as Senate Appeals rules and policies, President's Advisory Committee on Student Discipline, Academic Standing  Review procedures, Student Code of Conduct),  Board of Governors policies, and Faculty and Department organizational structures and student policies. Also pursues currency in knowledge and developments in areas pertaining to procedural fairness and conflict engagement.

Advises the Ombudsperson in the identification of systemic issues and/or resolution of concerns and contributes to  the preparation of recommendations to the University.  

Maintains records, and prepares statistical  reports for the Ombuds Office annual report, including the demographics of the visitors to the Office, the nature of each concern and the action taken.  

Day-to-day responsibilities include
- Receives inquiries and determines jurisdiction of issues and/or concerns, as the first point of contact for students in person, by phone, and through email.
- Analyzes student concerns or complaints that are often complex and multi-dimensional and provides advice,  presents strategies, and explores options to pursue realistic resolutions and positive outcomes. 
- Where appropriate, makes effective referrals to units and processes internal to UBC and to external agencies.
- Interviews students and other members of the university community in relation to fairness concerns or complaints to gather relevant information in a given case and to identify possible courses of action.
- Deals in an objective, impartial, empathetic, and confidential manner with all students regarding their concerns and inquiries and supports University community members requesting advice on student related  issues.
- Deals with individuals who are distressed, emotional, angry or upset in a respectful and professional manner.
- Identifies, obtains, reviews and analyzes documentation relevant to individual cases and provides feedback on written communications
- Coaches students with intercultural understanding and compassion so they may constructively interact with faculty and staff.
- Interacts and communicates with tact and discretion with decision-makers at all levels, including Deans, Associate Deans, heads of units and university legal counsel.
- Under the direction and supervision of the Ombudsperson, assists in the conduct of investigations and in the facilitation of resolutions.
- Exercises independent judgment with limited direction and is accountable for decisions
- Responsible for the research and creation of references and resources (such as toolkits and templates) to develop and maintain a "resource centre" for students in the Office and on the website.
- Implements and maintains a database for statistical information and produces reports for the Annual Report and as needed.
- Provides general administrative support for the Office and to the Ombudsperson, including budget development, managing space allocation and facility renovations and negotiating purchases of equipment and supplies. 
- Prepares correspondence and communications for the Ombudsperson's consideration and researches and produces reports for special projects.
- Creates text and design input for promotional materials including electronic signage, brochures, posters and social media
- Researches and purchases promotional material.
- Promotes the Ombuds service across campus including personal visits to units, attending faculty advising meetings, student events and orientation activities, and so forth.
- Develops and implements a satisfaction survey and compiles data to analyze how visitors to the Office experience the services and identifies areas to improve Ombuds services for better student satisfaction experiences. 
- Liaises with relevant university information technology services to keep database up-to-date and recommends changes.
- Administers and edits the Office website using WordPress 
- Manages the social media for the Office

Throughout, strives to embed core concepts and principles of fairness necessary to achieve excellence in managing conflict and advocating for fairness for students in every aspect of their university life.
   
Supervision Received
 
     
Reports to the Ombudsperson
Works independently, in close consultation and collaboration with the Ombudsperson when appropriate.
Must have initiative necessary to perform most day-to-day function of the position.
Works autonomously with limited managerial direction where needed.
   
Supervision Given
 
     
May supervise students and volunteers.
   
Consequence of Error/Judgement
 
     
The Office of the Ombudsperson deals with matters of a highly confidential and sensitive nature involving all aspects of the university and decision-makers from all levels.  The Ombuds Officer must exercise judgment, discretion and tact in each situation.  Errors could lead to loss of credibility in and damage to the Office, the President's Office to whom the Ombudsperson reports and the university as a whole, including exposure to legal liability and negative media attention.
The Ombuds Officer, who carries out her or his duties in an independent manner, is responsible for providing sound advice and for seeking clarification from the Ombudsperson and from other resources in the university when required.  The Officer is also expected to make judicious and prudent decisions in matters related to budget expenditures and the allocation of resources.
The Officer  is in a position of responsibility and trust, receiving highly sensitive and confidential information. Careful management and referrals of concerns to appropriate resources are essential in maintaining the credibility of the Ombuds Office  both on matters related to individual students and systemic issues.  
Sound judgment and sensitivity are imperative to engender confidence in the credibility and integrity of the case management of fairness-related  concerns. 
Consequences of error may also include physical or psychological harm caused to/by parties involved in a case which could lead to prolonged proceedings that could negatively impact students' experiences at UBC.. Failure to handle cases effectively at the UBC level can result in adverse impacts on a student's university experience and their capacity to successfully achieve their academic goals, and could contribute to negative public perceptions about UBC and its commitment to students.
   
Qualifications
 
     
Undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline.  (e.g. law, psychology, social work)  Minimum of three years experience or the equivalent combination of education and experience.  - Knowledge of and familiarity with UBC policy, processes and systems preferred.
- Demonstrated skill in individual coaching, mediation or other informal approaches to effective conflict engagement. 
- Knowledge and understanding of procedural fairness principles.
- Excellent interpersonal skills for dealing with individuals who may exhibit behaviours indicating extreme anxiety, stress or fear. 
-       Proven capacity and competencies related to advancing UBC's strategic goals of equity and inclusion.
- Demonstrated capability of de-escalating hostile or agitated states.  
- Ability to deal with sensitive and personal matters with the highest regard to confidentiality and privacy.
- Proven intercultural competencies and an ability to effectively communicate and interact with members from diverse communities in an inclusive and respectful manner. 
- Experience and demonstrated ability to work effectively and professionally with all members of the university community, including members of faculty, heads of units and representatives of associations and groups within and external to the university. 
- Superior oral and written communication skills, with ability to compose correspondence in clear, concise business English.
- Excellent analytical and report writing skills.
- Excellent organizational skills and experience in handling and prioritizing a high volume of cases and competing deadlines.
- A motivated self-starter and problem-solver who can work independently and collaboratively.
- Computer skills:  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Wordpress, University survey tools.
   
     
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Equity and diversity are essential to academic excellence.  An open and diverse community fosters the inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or discouraged.  We encourage applications from members of groups that have been marginalized on any grounds enumerated under the B.C. Human Rights Code, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, racialization, disability, political belief, religion, marital or family status, age, and/or status as a First Nation, Metis, Inuit, or Indigenous person.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

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