CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY KENYON
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Aug. 27, 2002
Annual report from UI Ombudsperson reflects campus climate
number of factors, including the tragedy of Sept. 11, the fire at the Old
Capitol, and the uncertainty caused by severe budget cuts, probably contributed
to the largest volume of business in the history of the University of Iowa
Office of the Ombudsperson, according to the office's 16th Annual Report.
"It's been a year full of tension for everybody," said university
ombudsperson Maile Sagen (left). "From world events to local issues
like the budget crisis, people have had a lot of uncertainty. The report reflects
that climate on campus."
The report shows 393 new cases during the 2001-02 academic year, up from
310 the previous year, a 27 percent increase. The largest increase was among
students, whose cases nearly doubled in the last year to 175 in 2001-02, up
from 89 the year before. It was a mixed bag for staff, with Professional and
Scientific staff cases rising to 101 from 75, but Merit staff cases dropping
to 57 from 94. Faculty cases were up slightly to 51 from 45 the previous year.
The report notes efforts by the UI administration in the last year to mitigate
some of the issues of continuing concern to the ombuds office, including plagiarism
and conflict management. A January 2002 conference on "Plagiarism in
the Digital Age," was a good step in the battle against academic misconduct,
but the report says faculty must continue to discuss the issue at the beginning
of each new semester, defining the issue and consequences for students.
In February, a new Policy on Ethics and Responsibilities for University
of Iowa Staff went into effect, along with conflict management procedures
for staff. The report also noted that two years of work by the Dispute Resolution
Committee to revise Sexual Harassment/Consensual Relationship Policy resulted
in two separate stand-alone policies effective July 1.
While praising progress in these areas, the report specifically points to
continuing tension surrounding the budget crisis. "Administrators tell
us we must do more with less. Employees tell us they are being asked to assume
more responsibilities, some even tell us they are being asked to take on tasks
they are not qualified or trained to do," the report says. "Morale
is low and conditions are ripe for behaviors which none of us want to experience.
Frustration exists and we worry about tempers growing short and people experiencing
Administrators are encouraged to be aware of potential problems and try
to anticipate employees' need for such campus resources as the Worklife Program,
the UI Employee Assistance Program and University Counseling Services.
The Office of the Ombudsperson serves students, faculty, and staff by offering
a confidential, neutral, and independent dispute resolution service. The UI
president appoints university ombudspersons. Sagen serves as the staff ombudsperson.
Lon Moeller, clinical associate professor in the Tippie College of Business,
is serving as the half-time faculty ombudsperson.
The full text of the 16th annual report is available on the Web at http://www.uiowa.edu/~ooombuds/
or by mail from the UI Office of the Ombudsperson, C108 Seashore Hall, Iowa
City, Iowa 52242.