A UWF Faculty Ombudsperson is a neutral, internal resource who promotes early intervention to reduce the negative consequences of conflict. The Faculty Ombudsperson’s primary duty is to work with individuals and groups to assist them in identifying options to help resolve conflicts, problematic issues and concerns in an equitable way. The Ombudsperson will also bring systemic concerns to the attention of university administration for resolution. The Ombudsperson will provide confidentiality to the extent permitted by Florida law.
Contact a Faculty Ombudsperson
- Dr. Tom Westcott, (850) 474-3178
Dr. Tom Westcott
Tom Westcott is a member of the Psychology faculty and holds a PhD from Penn State University. He has experience as the Director of Counseling at Western Carolina University, Dean of Students at the University of Guam and Vice President for Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Psychology at Pfeiffer University. During his 25 year career at UWF he has been Director of the Freshman Advising Center, Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences and Dean of General Studies.
What does an Ombudsperson Do?
Activities and functions most frequently undertaken by an ombudsperson include, but are not limited to:
- Listen and understand issues while remaining neutral with respect to the facts. The ombudsperson doesn’t listen to judge or to decide who is right or wrong. The ombudsperson listens to understand the issue from the perspective of the individual.
- Assist in reframing issues, illuminating the context, facts, and feelings that might be overlooked, developing options, and helping individuals evaluate options.
- Provide guidance and support for the individual to facilitate effective discussion with other parties, such as helping colleagues and/or supervisors consider options that may resolve a dispute in a fair way.
- Help individuals improve their skills and their confidence in expressing their concerns directly. For example, helping individuals collect and analyze their own information, helping individuals draft a letter about their concerns, coaching and role playing to help individuals to engage in effective problem-solving.
- Refer individuals to other formal organizational resources that can potentially resolve the issue.
- Assist in guiding issues to formal resolution channels. When an individual is unable or unwilling to pursue a concern directly, the ombudsperson can assist by helping communicate the concern and/or creating an awareness of the issue among appropriate decision-makers in the university.
- Informally research a problem, such as checking for new policies or other sources of information that might be pertinent to the individual’s concerns.
- Identify new issues and opportunities for systemic change for the University.
What does an Ombudsperson NOT Do?
Because of the informal, neutral and independent positioning of an Ombudsperson, the Ombudsperson typically does not undertake the following roles or activities:
- Participate in formal investigations or play any role, such as advocate, witness, arbitrator, or judge in a formal conflict resolution process.
- Conduct hearings or render, affirm, or overturn decisions.
- Make managerial decisions about a grievance or conflict.
- Receive notice, such as a formal complaint, for the university.
- Create or maintain records or reports with confidential or identifying information for the university.
Student and Staff Ombudsperson Resources
Other campus ombudsperson and employee relations contacts are:
- Student Ombudsperson, Dr. Lusharon Wiley, (850) 474-2384