When to Contact the Ombuds Office

There are many circumstances under which people can benefit from an “off the record” conversation with someone knowledgeable about academic life and university policies. Topics you may want to discuss could involve conflicts with colleagues or supervisors, communication problems, concerns about job status and work environment, and questions about what options are available for handling a problem according to university policy. Or, you may wish to learn what resources are available to you, request a reality check, or request information about the responsibilities of all parties. Topics might include:

  • Interpersonal difficulties with colleagues, subordinates, or supervisors
  • Departmental and interdepartmental conflicts
  • Preparing for a difficult conversation
  • Harassment or discrimination
  • Violations of university policy
  • Workplace disputes
  • Bureaucratic frustrations
  • Ethical dilemmas
  • Cultural misunderstandings
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Research misconduct
  • Incivility or rudeness
  • Health and safety concerns
  • Unprofessional conduct
  • Academic freedom and integrity
  • Protecting your reputation
  • Retaliation
  • Formal processes and procedures

The Ombuds Office is made available to visitors*  with the express understanding that it provides them with a confidential, independent, neutral and alternate channel of communication. Please be aware that the Ombuds Office does not record formal complaints on behalf of Mississippi State University, and the Ombuds is not designated by Mississippi State University as an individual authorized to receive reports of any violations of university policy. This includes allegations that may be perceived to be a violation of laws, regulations, or policies such as sexual harassment, issues covered by whistleblower policy, or incidents subject to reporting under the Clery Act.  Although the office may receive such allegations, it is not considered a “campus security authority” as defined by the Clery Act or a “responsible employee” for purposes of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. To this end, the office is not required to report potential violations of law or University policy to the University. Therefore, communications made to the Ombuds Office regarding possible violations of university policies or of unlawful practices do not constitute notice to Mississippi State University. This allows the Ombuds to preserve the confidential and impartial nature of the office.

If the visitor desires to place the University on notice or the visitor desires to file a formal report, the Ombudsman will refer the visitor the appropriate Mississippi State University office for administrative or formal grievance processes.

If you would like to make a formal complaint and put the University on notice of an issue, the Ombuds will provide you with the appropriate method to do so and refer you to the appropriate office and policy.  Individuals who choose to utilize the services offered by the Ombuds Office should understand that efforts to seek to compel an Ombudsman to reveal confidential communications in formal or legal proceedings are wholly contrary to the purpose of the office and will be resisted.

*Members of the MSU commuity that utilize the services of the Ombuds Office are referred to as "visitors".