HOW DOES THE OMBUDS HELP?
The Ombuds assists people in the seminary community through voluntary consultation and provides information and guidance in developing options to address their concerns. When possible, the Ombuds facilitates outcomes that build trust, enhance relationships, and improve communication within the seminary community.
The Ombuds also assists the seminary by identifying procedural irregularities and systemic problems. This might include identifying emerging trends, policy gaps, and patterns of problematic behavior in ways that do not disclose confidential communication or information. The Ombuds may provide general recommendations to the seminary for addressing these concerns.
The Ombuds is not an agent of Louisville Seminary authorized to receive notice of claims, complaints, or grievances against the seminary. Instead, the Ombuds may refer individuals to the appropriate place where formal notice of claims can be made. We discuss. YOU decide.
In short, the Ombuds is an independent, impartial, informal and confidential resource for the seminary community. Stay tuned for the launch of the Ombuds webpage in the weeks to come.
The Ombuds office is open and I can be reached by email, phone (502-338-2335) and Zoom.
Schlegel Hall #306
How do I contact the Ombuds Office?
The best way to contact the Ombuds Office is to email firstname.lastname@example.org. The next best way is to text the Ombuds Office phone at (502) 338-2335. Either way works to schedule an in-person meeting, or a meeting by phone or Zoom.
Does the Ombuds only meet with current students?
No. The Office of the Ombuds was created to provide an impartial, independent, informal, and confidential conflict resolution resource to the Seminary community and is therefore available to full-time and part-time employees, including staff, administrators, faculty, students in all degree programs, and alums.
Are there any issues or concerns that are not appropriate for the Ombuds to discuss?
Given that the Ombuds Office is a neutral and off-the-record confidential channel of communication, visitors should keep in mind that the Ombuds Office does not replace existing formal channels of communication and/or grievance or complaint procedures. Rather, the Ombuds Office supplements formal channels of communication by helping to identify, without breaking confidentiality, policies, practices, and emerging trends where systemic change may be appropriate. Any issues or concerns that a visitor has decided to handle formally, or that the Ombuds Office is legally required to report (see below) are not appropriate for the Ombuds to discuss.
How long is an appointment?
Appointments with first-time visitors are scheduled for 60 minutes, though they often do not last that long, and follow-up appointments, when requested, are usually scheduled for 30 minutes.
Does the Ombuds Office have drop-in hours?
No. The Ombuds Office is also Professor Williamson’s office, and for that reason is available by appointment only.
Does the Ombuds ever meet off-campus?
Yes. Visitors are welcome to schedule an off-campus appointment with the Ombuds at a public place, such as a coffee shop. Usually, visitors who do not want to meet at the Ombuds Office in Schlegel Hall during business hours, either schedule an office appointment before or after business hours, or request to meet via Zoom.
Can a visitor schedule a Zoom meeting with the Ombuds?
Yes. First, contact the Ombuds Office to schedule an appointment and then use the following Zoom link: https://lpts-edu.zoom.us/my/lptsombuds
What if I have a concern that I want the Ombuds to know about, but I don’t want to schedule an appointment?
Email your concern to the Ombuds Office. The concern will be included in the anonymized data reported to the Office of the President.
What does “confidential to the extent possible” mean?
The Ombuds Office will not disclose identifiable information about a visitor with the following limited exceptions:
- Where persons visiting the Ombuds Office give the Ombuds permission to make disclosure and the Ombuds determines, in their sole discretion, that it is appropriate to do so
- Where the Ombuds determines that there is an imminent risk of serious harm
- Where the Ombuds is expressly required by law to make disclosure
- Where the Ombuds has a legal requirement to report issues related to sexual misconduct as required by Title IX. (Please note that Professor Williamson is a mandated reporter).
- Where there has been a report of child abuse
- Where necessary to defend against a formal complaint of professional misconduct
Given that the Ombuds reports to the President, does the Ombuds disclose identifiable information to the President?
The Ombuds Office reports only anonymized data to the President in order to protect the identity of visitors. Any exception to this practice falls within the limited terms of disclosure listed above. Even though the Ombuds reports only anonymized data, the Ombuds will alert visitors to the likelihood of an unintended disclosure of identity due to the fact that the Seminary is a small community in which a word or phrase commonly used in anonymized reporting can identify not only a discrete issue but also a particular demographic or an individual.
What kinds of questions will the Ombuds ask?
First-time visitors can expect that the Ombuds will ask a number of questions including but not limited to these: What’s going on? How long has it been going on? Have you tried, and if so, how have you tried to remedy the issue or resolve the conflict? What can the Ombuds Office do (that assists in supporting a climate of respect, honesty, integrity, equity, and inclusion)?
Will I become a target for retaliation if I report an issue to the Ombuds Office?
Retaliation is illegal and unethical. Louisville Seminary takes retaliation seriously. Seminary employees receive annual training that defines and identifies retaliation. The Ombuds Office cannot prevent retaliation but will immediately report allegations of retaliation to the President, advise visitors about formal grievance procedures, and refer visitors to the appropriate administrative office so that the allegation of retaliation can be formally investigated. The Ombuds Office does not, however, participate in any formal investigations.
Is the Ombuds paid a salary or stipend?
No. The Ombuds is not paid a salary or stipend for this position but, given that the current Ombuds is also a faculty member, receives a course reduction as compensation for the work.
If I’m thinking about suing the Seminary, will the Ombuds take the Seminary’s side?
No. Visitors have rights that might be best protected by legal representation and the Ombuds Office does not take the place of legal representation. As an informal conflict resolution resource, the Ombuds will focus on informal courses of action that aim to build community. The Ombuds will try dispassionately to identify the pros and cons of multiple courses of action including, if requested by a visitor, legal representation. This consideration is consistent with an informal conflict resolution process. However, the Ombuds Office will not participate in any formal grievance process or legal process. Neither will the Ombuds meet with a visitor and the attorney representing them in a claim against the Seminary nor receive any claim against the Seminary.
What safeguards does the Ombuds Office take to protect communication?
The Ombuds Office has dedicated email, phone, and Zoom accounts to separate the business of the Ombuds Office from other Seminary business. Further, the Ombuds does not take notes or save any communication apart from anonymized data. Correspondence requesting an appointment is regularly deleted after the appointment, and the deleted items folder is emptied.
If someone in the Seminary community comes to me with an issue or concern and I don’t know what to tell them, can I refer them to the Ombuds Office?
Yes. The Ombuds Office can help visitors to identify the office or person that they should contact given their particular issue or concern. The Ombuds can also request information on their behalf, and with their approval.
Do I have to be unaccompanied at an in-person meeting with the Ombuds, or can I bring someone with me?
Visitors are welcome to include a support person, such as a friend or family member, when scheduling a meeting with the Ombuds. Additionally, visitors who share a concern or issue can schedule a group meeting.
Did you complete any training to become an Ombuds?
Yes. As a member in good standing of the International Ombuds Association (IOA), the LPTS Ombuds completed a foundations course, has been mentored by an IOA-appointed ombuds for the past year, participates in regular IOA meetings and events and is in process of gaining the requisite hours of work as an Ombuds necessary for IOA credentialing.
Does the Ombuds Office have a charter?
Yes. The LPTS Ombuds Office Charter was signed on February 22, 2023, by former President Alton B. Pollard, III, and ombuds Scott Williamson. The charter is available by clicking here.