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Scenes from Faculty Senate

Annual Report of the Ombud

2000-2001

July 13, 2001

Personnel:

Vincent Rose, Ombud

Office:

The Ombud Office is 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 Ombudperson. The telephone message also gives information on reaching the Ombudperson.

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 Ombudperson and the e-mail address of the Ombudperson. 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 the Memorial Union and in University College. Contact has been maintained with the Student Senate and the Graduate Student Association, the Office of the Registrar, Bursar, Student Life, Counseling Center, Campus Ministry, Graduate School and various undergraduate dean's offices. The ombudperson has attended parent orientation sessions each summer. Flyers have been and will continue to be distributed to parents during these sessions.

The Ombudperson has served on the College of Engineering Diversity Committee, including participation in the development of policies for recruitment and retention of faculty members. These procedures could be applicable to the whole University. In addition a leadership training program was initiated that provided people in each department with affirmative inquiry skills. For further information of 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 including the semi-annual Disability Resource Mentor project meetings. For further information the Change the Culture web site is http://www.uri.edu/ctc/. The Ombudperson also serves as a faculty senator and as a member of the Senate's Academic Standards and Calendar Committee.

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. Timely submission of petitions would avoid many of the problems.

Housing continues to be an issue. This year's cases have involved roommate conduct and availability of space.

Alleged cheating also continues to be a problem. This year a major issue concerned proctoring of exams. The Dean's Office involved issued a memo reminding all departments of proper procedures.

Another set of cases again has involved performance and supervision of external practicums. Timely open communications among all parties is essential in these situations, especially for the non-traditional student.

Grading has been a significant issue in the past year. 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.

The final exam schedule was a major topic of discussion with the Registrar's Office and the Academic Standards Committee. A manual change was developed and approved by Faculty Senate for short courses. The length of final exams and the scheduling of exams was another issue. The Registrar's Office is exploring the 2 hour option available in the University Manual as a way to alleviate the problems of having sufficient rooms/time for finals within the allotted period.

A question has surfaced regarding the use of W grades and withdrawal from student status. The University Manual does not define a W grade and indicates no grades will be recorded if the student withdraws before the end of classes. Handling grades for retroactive withdrawals for legitimate reasons needs to addressed. The Financial Aid Office needs to have the last day of attendance recorded.

At the graduate level several cases have involved dismissal. Guidelines for handling lines of authority in cases involving multiple institutional jurisdiction are necessary. A student manual being developed by the joint URI/RIC Ph.D., Program in Education should clarify the issues for that program. Draft copies are expected to be available in the fall.

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). During the spring semester admissions and fall housing are also issues. Cases involved 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. The Ombudperson will continue to serve on the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee during the 2001-02 academic year.

The role and need for a student assistant to the Ombud will be evaluated. The position was not filled for the 2000-2001 year.

Efforts will continue on resolution of handling lines of authority in cases involving multiple institutional jurisdiction, on scheduling of final exams and on the appropriate way to indicate student withdrawal from the University.

The Provost's Office was asked to insert a paragraph in the University Catalog informing students about procedures for requesting exceptions to curriculum requirements. Since these procedures vary by college, efforts will be made to have individual undergraduate procedures (8.26.10) published in the University Catalog. In addition, information will be compiled on the mandated review of these exceptions by the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee (8.26.13).