Office of the Ombudsperson

The ombuds office at Hampshire College is a resource operating to ensure that all members of the faculty and staff receive fair and equitable treatment. The ombudsperson acts as an impartial and informal source of assistance to those who believe themselves to have been treated unfairly. The ombuds services are confidential,* independent, neutral, and informal.

* There are exceptions to the pledge of confidentiality. Please see the “Guiding Principles” section below. Please also note that by choosing to use the office of the ombudsperson you are agreeing to these “Guiding Principles,” and you also agree not to ask the ombudsperson to breach any of the outlined principles.

By listening to concerns, the ombudsperson helps visitors identify and explore acceptable solutions to concerns that meet the needs of the visitor and the institution. The ombuds office provides a safe environment for the discussion of issues and concerns: The office does not keep formal College records, perform formal investigations, or advocate for either one party or another, but advocates for fairness.

How can an ombudsperson help?

The ombudsperson can assist in resolving difficult issues by offering a range of services to the staff and faculty of Hampshire College.

The ombudsperson can:

  • Listen to your concerns without passing judgment; help you to clarify your thoughts, feelings, and goals; and assist you in creating strategies for resolving problems/conflicts, even if you are not planning to take action.
  • Find answers to your questions about policy and procedure or refer you to someone who can.
  • Identify and help analyze problems and explore options for addressing them.
  • Informally mediate disputes and facilitate discussions between individuals or groups.
  • Recommend the review of policies or procedures and track trends that may impact issues of equity and fairness.
  • Identify harmful trends and suggest where the College may direct attention to address these problems or issues. Although the ombudsperson has no direct authority to change College policy, the ombudsperson is charged with the responsibility to inform the President and senior leadership of issues and trends that may impact equity and fairness and suggest where administration may need to direct attention to address those issues.
  • Educate members of the community in ways to manage conflicts effectively, resolve disputes, and help with team building within the community.

The power of the office of the ombudsperson rests in our ability to listen and inform; there are many things the ombuds office will not do:

  • The ombudsperson will not conduct formal investigations.
  • The ombudsperson will not make policy.
  • The ombudsperson will not adjudicate, arbitrate, or participate in internal or external formal processes (including legal processes).
  • The ombudsperson will not breach confidentiality* even with consent.
  • The ombudsperson will not provide legal advice.

Contacting the Ombuds Office

Contacting the ombudsperson is voluntary and can be a resource for information as well as services. Services provided by the ombudsperson include facilitation, informal mediation, conflict management training, conciliation, coaching in methods to approach situations, and the venue to listen to issues without passing judgment.

The ombuds office is located on the second floor of the Harold F. Johnson Library; office hours are on Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and by appointment. While walk-in visitors are always welcome, arranging a time to meet will insure the ombudsperson is available as well allowing you to pick a day and time that works best with your schedule.

Please remember that email should NOT be relied upon as a resource for confidential communication; the ombudsperson will make every effort, in accordance with The International Ombudsman Association’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, to ensure privacy, but email is not appropriate for confidential communications.

Mission of the Ombuds Office

The ombuds office is a neutral, independent, informal, and confidential resource to facilitate fair and equitable resolutions to concerns and problems that arise for the faculty and staff at Hampshire College.

Guiding Principles and Standards of Practice

The Hampshire College ombuds is a member of The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) and practices according to the IOA Code of Ethics (Adobe PDF download posted January 2007) and IOA Standards of Practice (Adobe PDF download posted October 2009).

The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) is the largest international organization of organizational ombuds practitioners in the world, representing over 500 members from the United States and across the globe. It was formed in July 2005 as a merger of two former organizations, The Ombudsman Association (TOA) and University and College Ombuds Association (UCOA).

Our Ombudsperson

Carol Stewart is a certified member of the International Ombudsmen Association and a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution (formerly the Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution). Carol also is a qualified mediator for the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission and a roster mediator for the Key Bridge Foundation’s ADA meditation program.

Stay In Touch
With Carol Stewart, Ombudsperson
Snail Mail
Carol Stewart, Ombudsperson
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Phone + Email