Ombudsperson for Graduate Affairs-Mellon College of Science - Carnegie Mellon University

MCS Ombudsperson for Graduate Affairs

In keeping with a policy on departmental graduate ombudspersons, the College places importance on helping graduate students resolve conflicts they may encounter. Each MCS department has a first point of contact for graduate concerns since many issues are best addressed first within the department. If you aren’t sure whom to contact in your department, you can ask your graduate program coordinator or ask the MCS ombudsperson. In cases where departmental assistance is not possible or not practical due to conflicts of interest or confidentiality concerns, please contact the MCS ombudsperson directly to set up an appointment. Please be sure to refer to the university’s summary of graduate student appeal and grievance procedures to determine if there is a specific procedure governing your situation.

The ombudsperson offers an informal collaborative process to complement existing services and formal procedures. Note that an ombudsperson is not a formal advocate or mediator. The ombudsperson is a neutral advisory party, not an advocate for the student or the administration in grievances, but an advocate for maintaining a fair process. The student typically makes the decisions about how he/she will manage the problem or conflict.

Matters will normally be treated confidentially upon the student’s request and only discussed in the aggregate to protect the student’s anonymity. However, sometimes the law requires reporting and confidentiality is not possible. Also, if someone reports to the ombudsperson an imminent risk of serious harm and a safe plan of action agreeable to both parties cannot be reached, the ombudsperson may need to act without the student’s permission.

Types of Support Available

  • Guidance about possible options. The ombudsperson can listen objectively, answer questions about MCS policy and procedure, or suggest ways to gather more information or generate more options.
  • Information about how to file a grievance or appeal. If a student wishes to file a grievance or appeal, the ombudsperson can advise on how to do so, provide help in interpreting the summary of graduate student appeal and grievance procedures and otherwise will act only to gather information if requested by the student.
  • A confidential resource and sounding board. Students who are experiencing personal, health or family difficulties that are affecting their academic progress may wish to contact someone outside of their program to discuss concerns and identify resources and options to assist them.
  • A confidential channel to raise concerns. Some concerns may call for review of policy or procedure or the student may want to surface a concern, for example related to diversity.
  • Consultant to departmental ombudspersons. The MCS Graduate Ombudperson can provide advice and support to departmental ombudspersons and graduate coordinators when needed.