University Ombudsman Office

Lydia Cummings, Ombudsman
Mon.–Fri., 9 am–5 pm Holyoke Center Suite 748 617-495-7748

The University Ombudsman Office is an independent resource for problem resolution serving the academic community. The office is available to all Harvard faculty, students, post-docs, research personnel, and staff. The office supplements but does not replace any mechanisms for addressing grievances within the College and other parts of the University. The office has no power to adjudicate, arbitrate, or to make formal investigations. The ombudsman is confidential, neutral, and independent. A visitor can discuss issues and concerns with the ombudsman without committing to further disclosure or any formal resolution. The ombudsman may assist individuals in finding solutions for problems that they may have been unable to resolve using existing channels. The ombudsman can help analyze and assess avenues for conflict resolution, including assistance with both written and verbal communications. Next steps are always determined by the visitor, depending on the circumstances and comfort with possible options. Provided all parties agree, the ombudsman may facilitate conversations through shuttle diplomacy, informal mediation, or be present in a discussion as a neutral. Typical issues may include academic and research disputes, advisor-student relationships, harassment, inappropriate behavior, unprofessional conduct, disability or illness, problematic work climate, and resource referral.

The University Ombudsman Office officially reports to the Provost but is independent of any University administrative structure. Office operations are consistent with the code of ethics and the practices of The International Ombudsman Association.