Do you want more information about the University Ombuds services? Get the answers to your questions below.
Q: What does the Ombuds do?
- Listen to faculty and staff
- Answer questions
- Help to analyze situations
- Interpret university policies and procedures
- Develop, examine, and reality-test options
- Help untangle bureaucratic red tape
- Suggest appropriate referrals
- Assist in finding a resolution
- Apprise administration of significant trends
- Recommend changes in policies and procedures
- Identify options to resolve problems
- Maintain confidentiality
Q: What does the Ombuds NOT do?
- Take sides
- Make or change rules
- Participate in any formal hearings or procedures
- Make policy
- Receive official “notice” to the university
- Disclose information provided in confidence
- Serve as an advocate for any party
- Maintain official records
- Give legal advice
- Breach confidentiality
Q: When should staff or faculty visit the Ombuds?
- When you believe you have been treated unfairly.
- When you have been unsuccessful in resolving a problem.
- When you do not know which policies, procedures, or regulations might apply in your situation.
- When you are unsure of where to go or what options exist to solve a problem.
- When you believe a policy, procedure, or regulation has been unfairly or wrongly applied.
- When you believe a policy, procedure, or regulation is unfair, illegal, or confusing.
- When you need help negotiating a situation.
- When you need help facilitating communication.
- When you have a question or a complaint about an office, service, or decision at UNT.
Q: How is my privacy protected?
Confidentiality and neutrality are the cornerstones of the Ombuds office. The Ombuds will not share your information without your permission unless there is imminent risk of serious harm, and where there is no other reasonable option.
The Ombudsman does not testify in any formal process inside the organization and resists testifying in any formal process outside the organization, even if given permission or requested to do so.
The Ombuds reports directly to the president of the university about trends and provides feedback, but any data or reports are prepared in a manner that protects confidentiality. Any notes regarding a visitor are seen only by the Ombuds, and will be destroyed when the issue is resolved, or if the file is inactive for 30 days.
As we cannot guarantee the total privacy of email, we discourage you from e-mailing any confidential information.
Q: Who is the Ombuds?
Dr. Belinda K. Newman was appointed to the University Ombuds position in 2007. She brings more than 30 years of higher education experience, including roles at Texas A&M University, the University of South Carolina, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and as the provost of Collin County Community College District's Preston Ridge campus.
Prior to becoming provost for CCCCD Preston Ridge she served as associate vice president for instruction as well asprovost at CCCCD Central Park. She also worked as a CCCCD legislative and coordinating board liaison. At South Carolina, she served as associate dean of student development and at Texas A&M she was supervisor of judicial affairs. She also has worked as a legislative aide and intern in the Texas Legislature. In addition to her staff positions in higher education, Newman has taught courses at SMU, UNT, CCCCD, and Amberton University. She developed and currently teaches “The Role of the Ombuds in Organizational Conflict” course for Southern Methodist University’s Department of Dispute Resolution and Counseling.
Dr. Newman has worked in mediation and dispute resolution within her various roles in higher education service. She completed the mediation training from CDR Associates in Boulder, Colorado, in 1984. Currently, Dr. Newman serves on the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee of the International Ombudsman Association, and is also a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution, and Ombuds of Texas.
Dr. Newman earned her bachelor's, master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University. Her doctoral research was on the topic of organizational politics. Additional areas of interest include leadership development, conflict coaching and management, and negotiation. She completed the Executive Coaching certificate from Southern Methodist University and numerous other trainings through CDR Associates, International Ombudsman Association, Association for Conflict Resolution, the University of Texas Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution, and CINERGY® Conflict Coaching.
Q: What does "Ombuds" mean?
The word Ombuds, pronounced (ahm-budz), originated when the Swedish Parliament instituted an Ombudsman in 1809 to be an independent observer of the government to safeguard citizens' rights. Now, the term is defined more broadly as a person who investigates complaints and mediates fair settlements, especially between aggrieved parties such as faculty or staff and an institution or organization.