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Scenes from Faculty Senate

Annual Report of the Ombud

2001-2002

July 24, 2002

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 Ombud. The telephone message also gives information on reaching the Ombud.

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 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 dean's offices. The Ombud has attended parent orientation sessions each summer. Flyers have been distributed to parents during these sessions.

The Ombud has served on the College of Engineering Diversity Committee and has participated in the College of Engineering Conflict Resolution Workshop, which is applicable to the whole University. 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 Ombud also served as a faculty senator and as a member of the Senate's Academic Standards and Calendar Committee and on the Ad Hoc task Force on Campus Security.

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. This year's cases have involved roommate problems and condition of the units in graduate village, Cultural differences and lack of formal agreements between the leasee 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.

Alleged cheating also continues to be a problem. This year a major issue concerned plagiarism from the web. The Academic Standards and Calendar Committee reviewed the problem and indicated that there were means available to check copied material including the various search engines. In addition, the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee proposed and the Faculty Senate and President endorsed the following recommendations:

  • That all faculty increase efforts to raise awareness levels among students about what constitutes plagiarism -- including plagiarism in oral communication -- and how it can be avoided. And they should do so in a variety of ways, e.g. statements on syllabi, class discussions, assignments.
  • That the topic of plagiarism should be, if it is not already, included in all writing-intensive courses.
  • That faculty assigning group work need to be clear to students about what will constitute plagiarism in that setting.
  • That faculty should be encouraged to create assignments that make plagiarism more difficult.

Performance and supervision of external practicums continued to be a problem. Timely open communications among all parties is essential in these situations, especially for unusual placements.

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. Students need to understand the course syllabi they receive. Methods for mediating disputes should be developed in the colleges.

The academic calendar and the final exam schedule were major topics of discussion with the Office of Enrollment Services and the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee. Manual changes for procedures governing the calendar were developed by the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee and approved by the Faculty Senate. Scheduling of final examinations is governed by these rules as well.

Another issue involved replacement of stolen equipment (e.g. computers, analytical equipment). Departments may obtain insurance by contacting the Director of Safety and Risk Management at 874-2618.

Concerns were raised about lighting on campus, especially in parking lots, paths, and around buildings. Flood lights that are not operating or are cycling on and off can be reported by contacting the maintenance trouble desk at 874-4060. This issue was addressed in the report of the Ad Hoc Task Force on Campus Security.

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. A recommendation to add the Ombud as an ex officio member of the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee will be proposed during the 2002-03 academic year.

Evan Duggan-Lever has been appointed as the student assistant to the Ombud for the 2002-2003 year. He will maintain the Ombud's office in 324 Roosevelt Hall.

At the request of the Ombud, the Provost's Office inserted 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 continued to have individual undergraduate procedures (8.26.10) 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 (8.26.13).