Solutions, Not Sides

Photography by
Tom Altany/University of Pittsburgh

The School of Medicine has established an Ombuds Office; it’s designed to provide a safe, welcoming, confidential and unbiased setting for students to relay their concerns and explore options available to them for informal resolution.

“This impartial office is another avenue for students to have their concerns heard,” says Anantha Shekhar, an MD, PhD, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean, School of Medicine.

He expects that the Ombuds team will help identify opportunities for systemic change and be a source of meaningful suggestions for ways to improve the school.

Students may contact the Ombuds Office to discuss difficulties that have been unresolved elsewhere. They are also encouraged to contact the Ombuds Office directly if for any reason they are fearful, embarrassed or unwilling to contact other offices.

Ombudspersons are prepared to offer guidance on interpersonal conflicts with supervisory personnel or colleagues, academic disputes, bullying, harassment, grievances or questions about University policies. Its staff will help students find a resolution to their issue but will not take sides, says Dean Shekhar.

The office is likely to become a model for other Pitt units, notes Valerie Kinloch, Reneé and Richard Goldman Dean and professor of education at Pitt, who is an advisor to the Ombuds program:

“I believe that, over time, this new Ombuds unit will be able to provide other campus units with tangible strategies and engaging practices for truly centering, valuing and supporting students and student experiences in even more proactive and productive ways.”

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