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What’s an ombud? Find out this October

September 30, 2019

Students, faculty and staff are invited to take part in a celebration of NIU’s Office of the Ombudsperson’s 50th anniversary and National Ombuds Day taking place Monday-Thursday, Oct. 7-10.

Sarah Klaper, university ombudsperson

An ombudsperson is a designated neutral party who provides free, confidential and informal assistance for resolving university-related concerns. The ombudsperson cannot impose solutions but will identify options and strategies for resolution.

“We provide guidance to help individuals understand university policy and procedures, how they relate to individual concerns, and how to properly advocate for fair and equitable resolutions,” said Sarah Klaper, university ombudsperson. “We work closely with administrators on policy development and interpretation with the common goal of fairness and equity.”

The Office of the Ombudsperson was established at NIU in 1969 in response to three separate committee reports referencing a need for an ombudsperson at NIU. Since its inception, the Office of the Ombudsperson has served as a confidential, neutral, informal and independent resource for the entire NIU community.

“If you don’t know where to go, who to talk to or what to say, come see us,” Klaper said. “We will listen, talk through your options and help you develop a strategy around your issue.”

The ombudsperson also regularly provides executive coaching as well as campus training on conflict resolution, leadership skills and effective communication. Klaper is knowledgeable regarding NIU’s policies and procedures and can help people navigate the politics of the situation.

“We collaborate with students, faculty and staff,” Klaper said. “Working with them to develop strategies on how to resolve concerns is interesting and fulfilling.”

The following events celebrating the Office of the Ombudsperson’s 50th anniversary and National Ombuds Day are set to take place in early October:

  • Monday-Thursday, Oct. 7-10 (all day): Kindness Rocks display outside the Campus Grind at Holmes Student Center. Take one if you need one!
  • Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 8 to 10 a.m.: Doughnuts and a Drawing: Join the Office of the Ombudsperson for doughnuts and sign up for an Ombuds Day basket drawing in the Holmes Student Center lobby.
  • Thursday, Oct. 10, from 8 to 10:30 a.m.: Coffee with Klaper: Join University Ombudsperson Sarah Klaper, Gay Campbell and Hafsa Jamalvi for coffee, conversation and cinnamon rolls to start the day at Holmes Student Center, 601.
  • Thursday, Oct. 10, at 11 a.m.: Drawing results for the basket revealed on Twitter.