View Bill 16-17-09

Senate Bill 16-17-09

Bill ID: 16-17-09
Name: Revision to the Senate Bylaws to Provide Representation for Ombuds Officers on Senate Committees
Proposed: 09/13/2016
Sponsor: Ellin Scholnick, Faculty Ombuds Officer
Proposal: The University of Maryland currently has four Ombuds Officers who provide confidential, independent, and impartial Ombuds services to members of the University community on issues specific to Faculty, Staff, Graduate Students, and Undergraduate Students. The role of the Faculty Ombuds Officer was established in 1990 in University policy II-4.00 (A) University of Maryland Policies and Procedures Governing Faculty Grievances. The policy describes the role of the Faculty Ombuds Officer as "counselor, fact-finder, mediator, and negotiator, but not as an advocate for any party in a dispute."

Although the Senate receives an annual report from the Faculty Ombuds Officer, there is no communication channel for discussing institutional structures that underlie complaints. As the current Faculty Ombuds Officer, I have been fortunate enough to have developed informal channels in my time in this role. The former Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs generously met with me on a regular basis. I have served on the taskforce updating the APT policy and on the Senate Faculty Affairs Committee which has addressed the structure of PTK positions. These experiences have helped to inform me about the policies and procedures that have been the sources of complaints and have helped me to advocate for change. I think such experiences have increased my effectiveness and I suggest that it would be helpful to formalize this connection between the Ombuds Officers and the Senate. I propose that the Faculty Ombuds Officer sit as a voting ex officio member on the Faculty Affairs Committee (with comparable positions for other Ombuds Officers on appropriate Senate Committees tasked with staff and student issues).

Serving on Senate Committees will allow Ombuds Officers to make committees aware of concerns with University policy and institutional structures, but adding such representation will benefit Senate committees as well. Because of their work with University policy and campus community members, Ombuds Officers have a unique institutional perspective, a perspective that is different than that of representatives from the administration or of constituency representatives. Ombuds Officers have a holistic view of the institution, and will be able to speak to the impact of a draft recommendation both on the administration charged with implementing it and on the member of the campus community it will affect. This perspective would be a valuable addition to relevant Senate Committee discussions.


Status: Completed
Completed On: 03/24/2017


Presidential Approval: 03/24/2017
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Reviewed By: Senate
Received: 03/01/2017
Decision Date: 03/08/2017
Decision: The Senate voted to approve the proposal.
Actions: The Senate reviewed the proposal at its March 8, 2017, meeting and voted to approve the committee's recommendations.
Next Step: Presidential Approval
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Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 02/13/2017
Decision Date: 02/20/2017
Decision: The SEC voted to place the item on the March 8, 2017 Senate meeting agenda for consideration.
Actions: The SEC reviewed the proposal at its February 20, 2017, meeting and voted to forward the recommendations to the Senate for review.
Next Step: Senate Review
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Reviewed By: Elections, Representation, & Governance (ERG) Committee
Received: 09/27/2016
Decision Date: 02/08/2017
Decision Due By: 02/10/2017
Decision: The committee voted to forward its recommendations to the SEC for consideration.
Actions: The ERG Committee began work on the charge at its October 18 meeting. It invited the Faculty Ombuds Officer, the Graduate Student Ombuds Officer, and the Staff Ombuds Officer to its November 7 meeting, and consulted with the Undergraduate Student Ombuds Officer separately. The committee also researched the recent work of the Student Affairs, Educational Affairs, Staff Affairs, and Faculty Affairs Committees.

The Faculty Ombuds Officer shared that her work as an ombuds officer and her extensive service in the Senate have informed one another, to the advantage of each. She cited several specific examples where both the Senate and her work benefited, such as her efforts involving professional track faculty issues. The Undergraduate
Ombuds Officer echoed the Faculty Ombuds Officer, explaining that her involvement with Senate committees, specifically the APAS and Educational Affairs Committees, has benefited her work with students and the Senate's work on policy matters. However, she recommended that the Undergraduate Ombuds Officer not be
given an ex-officio seat on either of those committees. Given the Undergraduate Ombuds Officer will always be an administrator within the Office of Undergraduate Studies (UGST), there is every reason to expect that the Dean for Undergraduate Studies will continue to appoint the Undergraduate Ombuds Officer to serve on
APAS and the Educational Affairs Committees. Given this relationship, she suggested that an additional seat specifically for the ombuds officer would give the UGST excessive representation on the two committees. The Staff and Graduate Ombuds Officers each expressed skepticism regarding the value of their inclusion on a Senate committee, and both noted other campus bodies that are more relevant to their work, including University Human Resources and the Graduate Council, to which the Senate refers nearly all issues dealing with graduate students.

After reviewing the charges of the Senate standing committees, the ERG Committee agreed that there was no single Senate committee that dealt with relevant issues extensively enough to merit the addition of either the Staff or Graduate Ombuds Officers. Given the Undergraduate Ombuds Officer is essentially a de facto member of
the two relevant committees, and given the possibility of overrepresentation by UGST, ERG decided not to recommend the creation of a new ex-officio seat. The Faculty Ombuds Officer, however, has historically worked closely with the Faculty Affairs Committee, and many of the issues that come before the Faculty Ombuds Officer can be and have been addressed by policy changes that involve the Faculty Affairs Committee. As such, the ERG Committee voted to recommend creating an ex-officio seat on the Faculty Affairs Committee for the Faculty Ombuds Officer. While Senate practice is to give ex-officio committee members voting rights, the Faculty Ombuds Officer explained the importance of independence and impartiality to the work of an ombuds officer, and asked that the seat be non-voting. The committee agreed this
is appropriate.

The ERG Committee voted to recommend amendments to Article 6.7 of the Bylaws by an email vote concluding on February 8, 2017.
Next Step: SEC Review
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Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 09/20/2016
Decision Date: 09/27/2016
Decision: The SEC voted to charge the ERG Committee with review of the proposal.
Actions: The SEC met on September 27, 2016 and voted to charge the Elections, Representation, & Governance (ERG) Committee with review of the proposal as it involves a change to the Senate Bylaws.
Next Step: ERG Committee Review
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