Proposal from the Ad-Hoc Committee for Advising and Advocacy
Elon has a tradition of civil discourse. Conflict is usually handled efficiently and fairly. Elon is, however, a community in transition and we wish to ensure that civil discourse continues into the future as the university grows.
During the past year and a half, the Ad –Hoc Committee for Advising and Advocacy met numerous times, did much research, and polled focus groups as well as the full faculty. First, we worked to determine if there is a need at Elon for a more formal way to assist faculty, then we examined ways assistance could be provided. Senior faculty in a focus group discussion suggested we strengthen the current mentoring system. That would be desirable in any case as a screening mechanism, providing even more insurance against problem situations. Another suggestion was that the university contract with an outside mediation board. This seemed unsatisfactory to us, since the mediators would be unfamiliar with the inside functioning of the university. The institution of a grievance committee would be somewhat unwieldy and could muddy the waters in some cases. As for legal insurance, our intention is to minimize the need for it. This recommendation does not preclude individual faculty from independently purchasing legal insurance.
The recent web-based survey generated seventy-four responses. Of the total respondents, twenty-three reported that they had experienced instances in which they felt they needed some kind of advising mechanism to help them through the situation. Forty-six perceived a need for such a mechanism on the Elon campus. The most desirable of mechanisms, as stated by these respondents, was that of ombudsman.
Based on this survey, other feedback from faculty, and our own research, we make the following recommendations.
We recommend that a faculty member be appointed by the consensus of the President and Academic Council to serve as ombudsman. Although some universities follow other models, at Elon the ombudsman’s role would be to serve the faculty.
We recommend that the candidate:
What will the Elon ombudsman do?
What will the Elon ombudsman NOT do?
Our committee is willing to meet with the appointed ombudsman in the first few months in order to share all that we have learned from our research and focus groups.
We recommend that the program be evaluated at the end of two years, at which time the Academic Council and the President will decide whether to continue the service.