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Scenes from Faculty Senate

Annual Report of the Ombud

2003-2004

July 15, 2004

Personnel:

Vincent Rose, Ombud
Evan Duggan-Lever, Student Assistant to the Ombud

Office:

The Ombud Office has been located in room 36 Adams Hall. The hours are posted on the door along with the office phone number and the phone number and e-mail address of the Ombud. The Student Assistant also has been available in the Student Senate Office. The telephone message also gives information on reaching the Ombud. The Office is scheduled to be relocated for the 2004-05 academic year.

Web Page:

The web site http://www.uri.edu/facsen/Ombud.html has been kept up-to-date through the efforts of the Faculty Senate Office. The site emphasizes the purpose of the Ombud Office, lists its location and indicates the hours, the telephone number of the office and the Ombud and the e-mail addresses of the Ombud and the student assistant. The site can be reached from the University home page as well as through the Faculty Senate and the Student Senate web sites.

Outreach:

Posters have been placed in various locations in the Memorial Union and in University College. Contact has been maintained with the Student Senate and the Graduate Student Association, the Office of Enrollment Services, Student Life, Counseling Center, Campus Ministry, Graduate School and various undergraduate deans' offices. The Student Assistant gave a presentation at the Student Organization Presidents Meeting and distributed flyers in the student organization mailboxes. The Ombud has attended parent orientation sessions each summer. Flyers have been distributed to parents during these sessions.

The Student Assistant has served as a Student Senator, on the Student Senate Academic Affairs Committee and on the Faculty Senate Academic Standards and Calendar Committee. He has also participated in the URI-Narragansett Coalition. The Ombud has served on the College of Engineering Diversity Committee. (For further information on the College of Engineering Diversity Committee activities see the web site http://www.egr.uri.edu/diversity) The Ombud has been a participant in the USDE Change The Culture Grant. (For further information the Change the Culture web site is http://www.uri.edu/ctc/) The Ombud serves as an ex officio member of the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee. The Ombud also participated in a workshop on cheating sponsored by the Faculty Institute on Writing.

To ease the process of selecting the Student Assistant to the Ombud section 2.39.19 of the UNIVERSITY MANUAL has been amended to read as follows:

2.39.19 Student Assistant. The Ombud shall be assisted by a student appointed by the President by July 1 each year in accordance with the procedure outlined below. In March of each academic year, the Student Senate and Graduate Student Association shall conduct searches for their nominees to the position of Student Assistant to the Ombud. The searches shall be conducted in a manner established by each organization. The names of no more than three nominees from each group shall be forwarded to the current Ombud by April 15. Finalists for the position shall be interviewed by a committee composed of the Ombud and a representative of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The committee shall be convened by the Ombud and shall make its recommendation to the President no later than June 15. The Ombud's Student Assistant shall perform his/her duties in consultation with and under the direction of the Ombud, shall serve a one-year term, and shall be eligible to succeed himself/herself without a search. The Ombud's Student Assistant shall receive a stipend of $1000 per semester, to be paid by the University.

Cases:

Questions have been received from students, parents, faculty, administrators and outside groups. Many of the cases are raised and resolved via the Internet and by telephone. The majority of the problems have involved undergraduate students. Most of the solutions have involved informing people of the appropriate procedures and options. Meeting deadlines and timely submission of petitions would avoid many of the problems.

Housing continues to be an issue. However, this year the cases have involved off-campus housing. It is important that students understand tenants' rights and responsibilities. All renters should have a signed lease. Sample leases, information on tenants' rights and responsibilities, Narragansett housing laws, and much more information are available on the URI Commuter Office website, www.uri.edu/commuter_housing.

In Graduate Village, cultural differences and lack of agreements between lease holders and other occupants of apartments have been at the root of past problems. Sample leases are available on the Commuter Office website.

Alleged cheating remains a problem. One issue involves the use of calculators, laptop computers, and cell phones during exams. One solution has been to ban all student electronic devices and provide hand-held calculators.

Performance and supervision of external practicums are still problematic. Timely open communications among all parties is essential in these situations, especially for unusual placements, and older than average students.

Grading continued to be a significant issue. It is important that faculty indicate the method of grading in the course syllabus and adhere to the procedure outlined during the course of the semester (see section 8.52.10 of the University Manual). Students need to understand the course syllabi they receive, especially the grading and attendance policies. Methods for mediating disputes are being developed in the colleges, through the use of college appeals committees. In addition, better criteria for the use of NW and NR grades should be disseminated to the faculty.

Timings:

Many of the cases reach the Ombud Office before or at the start of the semester (housing, appropriate registrations, course availability, prerequisite requirements, fees, student payroll, etc.) and, at the end of the semester (grades, dropping of course, cheating, academic standing, dismissal). Housing is an issue during the fall semester and admissions during the spring semester. Cases involving personal conflicts (student-student, teacher-student, administrative office-student) occur on a more random basis.

Future Plans:

Contacts will be maintained with the various student service offices.

Since procedures for requesting exceptions to curriculum requirements vary by college, efforts will be continued to have individual undergraduate appeals procedures (as specified in section 8.26.10 of the University Manual) published in the University Catalog.

The Office of the Ombud is in the process, once again, of being relocated. As soon as the office is relocated information will be available on the website.

A student assistant to the Ombud for 2004-05 will be selected in the near future.

Links:

Conflict Resolution
Disability Services
Graduate Student Manual
Off Campus Housing
Ombud Homme Page
Student Handbook
University Manual