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Scenes from Faculty Senate

Annual Report of the Ombud

2002-2003

August 29, 2003

Personnel:

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

Office:

The Ombud Office has been in room 324 Roosevelt 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 telephone message also gives information on reaching the Ombud. During the 2002-03 academic year the Student Assistant secured a sofa and a computer for the office. The Office is scheduled to be relocated to Adams Hall, Room 36 for the 2003-04 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 twice each semester 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. 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. The Ombud was a member of the search committee for the disability services research assistant. For further information the Change the Culture web site is http://www.uri.edu/ctc/. In the fall of 2002, the By-Laws of the Faculty Senate were amended to include the Ombud as an ex officio member of the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee and the Ombud served in this capacity. The Ombud also served on the Ad Hoc task Force on Campus Security, which presented its final report to the Faculty Senate at a meeting in the fall.

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.

With the changes in regulations and the introduction of parking fees, parking has been a major issue. Most cases involved people not being aware of the rules and the lack of consistent enforcement.

Housing continues to be an issue. Some of this year's cases again have involved roommate problems. Condition of the units in graduate village; cultural differences and lack of formal agreements between the leaseholder and other occupants of the apartment were the root of the problems. The Department of Housing and Residential Life is considering a change in policy regarding roommates. Other cases have involved disputes in the dormitories.

Alleged cheating remains a problem. One issue was the use of the same paper for two courses. Section 8.27.11 of the University Manual only permits this practice if BOTH instructors have given PRIOR approval.

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 should be developed in the colleges. As a result of the settlement of a faculty grievance the use of college appeals committees has been established. In addition, there should be better criteria for the use of NW and NR grades.

Replacement of stolen equipment (e.g. computers, analytical equipment) is still a problem. Departments may obtain insurance by contacting the Director of Safety and Risk Management at 874-2618.

Efforts have been made for the Ombud to continue to have access to student records. The Ombud has taken PeopleSoft training and is learning to use e-campus.

Timing:

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. In addition, information is being compiled for the mandated review of these exceptions by the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee in accordance with University Manual section 8.26.13.

The Office of the Ombud is in the process of being relocated to Adams Hall. As soon as the office is relocated information will be available on the website.

A student assistant to the Ombud for 2003-04 will be selected in the near future. Since the selection process as outlined in section 2.39.19 of the University Manual has turned out to be cumbersome when there is more than one nomination, a more streamlined procedure will be proposed. This new procedure would have nominations from the Student Senate and Graduate Student Association due by April 15 and the selection made by the Ombud and the Office of the Provost.