Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services
Trainings and Workshops
The Office Ombuds does not provide legal or psychological counseling
A Bridge Between Problems and Options
The NTU Office of Ombuds is a place where faculty, staff and administrators of the NTU community can go for assistance in addressing conflicts, disputes or complaints on an informal basis. In order to afford the visitors the greatest freedom in using its services, the Office is independent, neutral and confidential.
The NTU Office of Ombuds works to ensure that all members of the NTU community receive fair and equitable treatment in matters of concern or complaint. The Ombuds facilitate communication and assist parties in reaching their own mutually acceptable agreements when conflicts arise. Acting as neutrals and committed to confidentiality, the Ombuds may gather information on complaints, clarify issues, expedite processes or, when appropriate initiate mediation. The response of the Office is tailored to the dynamics of the situation and the informed consent of the visitor. The Ombuds are respectfully impartial to all parties to a conflict. The Office operates within NTU policy and reports to the President’s Office for administrative and budgetary purposes. Ombuds may make recommendations for review or change when policies or procedures of NTU generate trends or patterns in conflicts and concern.
Please fill out and submit the Intake Form on the NTU web site. You will receive a phone call back within 48 hours.
Meeting with an Ombuds does not affect your ability to pursue formal complaints. An Ombuds can help you find the appropriate person to speak to in order to request that NTU take some action, if that is what you want. Important rights may be affected by the actual date when formal action is initiated and/or when NTU is informed of allegedly wrongful behavior, and in some situations, you may wish to consult with an attorney regarding your rights. The staff members in the Office of Ombuds Services do not represent NTU and therefore cannot receive formal complaints. The Office of Ombuds Services will resist being called to testify as a witness in any formal or legal proceedings to reveal confidential communications. The Office also does not maintain any permanent records of individual matters.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an "Ombuds"?
"Ombuds' is the shortened, generally Americanized form of the term "Ombudsman." Here, the term "ombuds" refers to the designated person who provides problem-solving resources to the NTU campus community. The term "Ombuds" is broadly understood to refer to a person who, acting in an impartial capacity, is appointed to help address complaints. In North America and Europe, the role has evolved, especially in recent years, into many different forms with different missions and practice standards. Most Ombuds who work in US-based academic settings are "organizational" Ombuds, and work to address concerns and problems of their constituencies using informal means. Many Ombuds, including the NTU Ombuds, practice according the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
When should I contact the Office of Ombuds Services?
Any kind of University-related problem may be brought to the Office by any staff or faculty member of the community. You might want to contact the Ombuds when:
- You need an impartial and confidential sounding board.
- You think you have been treated unfairly.
- You are having interpersonal conflicts.
- You want to report a problem but first want to get a sense of possible outcomes or process.
- You have concerns about career advancement and job satisfaction or security.
- You are having problems with institutional non-responsiveness and red-tape.
- You want to discuss a NTU policy or practice that you think is unfair or problematic.
- You have concerns about procedural fairness or due process.
- You are not sure how to interpret an NTU policy or procedure.
- You are not sure which NTU policy applies to your situation.
- You need assistance in identifying the formal channels you would use to file a formal notice with NTU.
- You are not sure where else to turn for help and need guidance.
Who is the Ombuds Staff?
Ombuds services are provided by a variety of specialists. Anne Seagrave Fullerton is the program administrator. Cases in the first year of the program will be heard by Anne, Reese Fullerton, Kathy Isaacson, and other internal or external resources as needed. Future plans include the integration of the Navajo Peacemaker Court services and training.
Anne Seagrave Fullerton is a facilitator, counselor and educator. She has directed charitable foundations and not for profit organizations, led successful executive search committees, and facilitated community and school programs in Santa Fe schools and the Santa Fe Indian School. She has provided program review and academic master planning services to NTU for multiple years.
Reese Fullerton is a facilitator, trainer, mediator and attorney, and has spent many years facilitating public discussions over disputes about water, natural resources, education, family, health and human rights issues in local, state, regional, national and international settings. He has contracted to NTU for multiple years doing program review and academic master planning.
Kathy Isaacson is a strategic planning and evaluation consultant, mediator, facilitator, and trainer. Kathy has worked for over a decade at Navajo Technical University (and other TCUs) doing strategic planning and institutional evaluation. Kathy is co-author four books: Engaging Communication in Conflict: Systemic Practice, Communication and the Management of Difference, Mediation: Empowerment in Conflict Resolution, Facework: Bridging Theory and Practice. She also co-produced two videos—“The Team Mediation System” and “Facilitative Leadership.”
Who can contact the Ombuds Office?
University administrators, faculty, and staff can contact the Ombuds regarding their campus-related concerns. Visitors can make an initial contact by intake form without including any confidential information. Depending on the circumstances and willingness of all parties, visitors may bring guests. This option can be discussed at the time of the visitor's initial contact with the office.
What happens when you go to Ombuds?
You'll be given the opportunity to complete an intake form that requests a description of the issue and contact information so that follow-up can be made. Completion of the intake form is completely voluntary. The office does not retain the intake form or any other permanent records. All identifying information related to your visit is destroyed at the end of the semester or after the issue has been resolved. The Ombuds will explain that he/she is a campus resource there to assist you in resolving any university-related concerns confidentially and informally. The Ombuds will listen to your concerns, ask clarifying questions and help you explore options that you may want to use to resolve your issue.
Will the Ombuds maintain confidentiality of my communications?
Yes. Confidentiality is essential to the functioning of the Ombuds Office. We do not maintain identifying records. Communications with the Ombuds are made with the understanding that they are confidential and that the Ombuds will not testify with respect to confidential communications or participate in formal, grievance, or other legal proceedings. Consistent with the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, the Ombuds Office also claims that these communications are privileged, with the privilege held by the Ombuds Office and not the visitor. The only exceptions to this confidentiality are when, during the course of your communications with the Ombuds, you give permission to the Ombuds to make disclosure and the Ombuds agrees to do so or if the Ombuds determines that there is an imminent risk of serious harm.
Does speaking to someone in the Office of Ombuds Services count as formal notice to NTU?
No. By only telling a staff member in the Office of Ombuds about your situation, you have not formally notified any NTU official of your conflict, dispute or complaint. In order for NTU to take official action to remedy your conflict, dispute, or complaint, you must share it with someone who represents NTU. The staff members in the Office of Ombuds do not represent NTU and therefore cannot receive formal complaints.
Meeting with an ombudsperson does not affect your ability to pursue formal complaints. The Ombuds can help you find the appropriate person to speak to in order to request that NTU take some action, if that is what you want. Important rights may be affected by the actual date when formal action is initiated and/or when NTU is informed of allegedly wrongful behavior, and in some situations, you may wish to consult with an attorney regarding your rights.
What makes the Ombuds different from other resources at NTU?
The Office of the Ombuds reports to the President of the University which helps ensure its independence and impartiality; otherwise, it is independent of all other NTU offices and decision-making practices and outside of existing departmental structures. The Ombuds does not make administrative decisions and does not have authority to change the outcome of formal processes such as decisions in a formal grievance. Our services are visitor initiated. All processes and strategies are used at the discretion of the visitor. The Office also provides a very strict promise of confidentiality which allows you to have off-the-record conversations about highly sensitive problems. If you aren't sure where to take your concern, the Ombuds is a safe place to start.
What if the informal process does not work?
You are not precluded from pursuing formal remedies if informal approaches through the Ombuds Office do not work. We will remind you of the deadlines for initiating formal options, and we can refer you to those options if necessary.
Are there issues the Ombuds does not address?
The Ombuds does not handle formal complaints or legal issues of any kind. You may, however, consult with the Ombuds Office either before or after using a formal process.
Even if I want to file a formal complaint, can I talk to the Ombuds first?
Yes. While the Ombuds is not authorized to receive formal complaints, the Ombuds can help you better understand processes and potential outcomes before you decide whether to file a complaint. The Ombuds can also help identify alternatives to formal grievance procedures or direct you to the appropriate procedures and office should you wish to file a formal complaint.
What if I have Discrimination, Harassment, or Retaliation complaint?All formal complaints regarding Discrimination, Harassment or Retaliation based on gender or sexual orientation (DHR) will be referred to the Title IX Coordinator for investigation. For more information, you can reach them at ???
What If I have Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation (DHR) complaint of a non-sexual nature?For complaints by students or staff members of Discrimination, Harassment, or Retaliation complaint based on any protected statuses except gender or sexual orientation, you must seek the services of the DHR Officer. He can be reached at ???