David Carver, PhD, has been named inaugural director of UNMC's longstanding ombuds program. Dr. Carver helped to establish the ombuds role at UNMC and has served on the ombuds team since it was launched in 1997.
The ombuds program is an independent, informal, impartial and confidential resource for students, faculty and staff. As director, Dr. Carver plans to increase the visibility and understanding of the ombuds role, while also expanding the availability of individual ombuds consultations.
"It's a unique alternative dispute resolution service for any member of our UNMC community," Dr. Carver said. "I'm excited to work closely with my long-time ombuds colleague Dr. Susan Swindells, while also collaborating with other UNMC programs that promote wellness and inclusion."
Dr. Carver is a strong proponent of organizational ombuds programs. He serves on the Board of Directors of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) and recently co-chaired the IOA Standards of Practice Task Force. He also has taught many workshops and training sessions on various aspects of the ombuds role.
In the ombuds profession, the term "visitor" describes those who utilize the service. Faculty, staff or student "visitors" can privately discuss work or school conflicts. Information shared with the ombuds is confidential. Ombuds don't keep any individual case files or formal written records. "It's behind-the-scenes and off-the- books," Dr. Carver said. "Campus community members are often troubled by academic or workplace issues but don't necessarily need mental health treatment. Many people just want a confidential sounding board."
Ombudspersons help identify and evaluate options for dealing with problematic situations. They may also provide communication coaching and informal mediation between parties. "Impartiality means that we don't take sides or advocate for individuals publicly, but we may facilitate a conversation or dialogue that leads to a solution," he said.
"We first try to help visitors identify possibilities for solving disputes informally," Dr. Carver said. "We may also explain complex policies and procedures. However, ombuds do not participate in formal complaints, appeals, grievances or disciplinary processes."
While maintaining independence from the formal administrative chain of command, the ombudsperson reports emerging problem trends to the chancellor and other UNMC leaders without identifying individuals.
Congratulations Dr. Carver!!
Dr. Carver, Congratulations. After all the changes that took place, I was worried--but now I'm excited to learn, students still have a champion in their corner, they still have you. All the best, Joan
Dr. Carver will do a great job!