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What does the term OMBUDS mean?

The Student Ombuds Officer provides an independent and confidential service to the students at Central Michigan University. The Ombuds Officer is empowered to investigate complaints and facilitate or negotiate their resolution. The Ombuds Officer has the right of access to university records, reports and other documents. To ensure objectivity, the Ombuds Officer is independent of all existing structures, reporting to the President.

The Office does not assume a custodial role for formal documentation and does not testify at formal proceedings.

The powers of the Office allow the Ombuds Officer to facilitate change and elicit the full cooperation of all members of the university community.

Confidential: All conversations with the Ombuds Officer are confidential unless authorized by the complainant or otherwise required by applicable law.

If there appears to be imminent threat or serious harm, confidentiality will be broken.

The word OMBUDSMAN (om - buds - man) comes from Scandinavia during the 19th century, where the term applied to a public official appointed to investigate citizens' complaints against government agencies. The purpose of the Ombuds Office is to assure that student voices can be heard and that every problem can receive an impartial review. To do this, an Ombudsperson must be a designated neutral and the organization must ask that the Ombuds surface the truth rather than defend a particular point of view. If justice is to be served, the Ombuds must also be able to provide confidentiality so that individuals can come forward and speak the truth.

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When should you see the OMBUDS officer?

You feel as if you're trapped in an endless maze, running around in circles, or at the end of your rope.

You're confused about university policy.

You need someone to really listen to what you have to say.

You feel as if you have been unfairly treated by anyone on campus.

You feel that a university policy, procedure, or regulation is unfair.

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How does the OMBUDS office help?

The office operates under the principles (informal, confidential, neutral, and impartial) of the International Ombuds Association.  The Student Ombuds Officer will:

  • Listen to your complaint.
  • Clarify university policy.
  • Answer questions concerning appropriate channels.
  • Assist with problems that have not been resolved by other offices.
  • Informally investigate your complaint if usual avenues of appeal or grievance have been exhausted.
  • Make referrals to individuals more expert in a specific concern.
  • Help define options that are available to you.
  • Recommend changes/improvements to university policy, rules, or procedures that are outdated, unclear, or ineffective.
  • Open avenues of communication.
  • Offer a SAFE place to discuss your concerns.

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What resources should I explore before contacting the OMBUDS office?

Speak directly with the party involved with your concern and try to resolve the issue.

If you are unable to resolve the issue directly with the party involved, advance to the next level of appeal (Department Chair, Dean, Director, etc.).

Consult the appropriate Undergraduate or Graduate Bulletin.

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When is it not appropriate to involve the OMBUDS office?

  • You want legal advice or legal representation. The Ombuds Officer can advise you of your rights within the university, but will not provide legal advice or represent you in a legal matter.
  • You have a non-university related disagreement or problem. The Ombuds Office will not address disputes between members of the campus community and private individuals, companies, or organizations not affiliated with Central Michigan University.
  • You want someone to advocate for you in a dispute. The Ombuds Officer is a neutral facilitator, not an advocate for either side of a dispute. The goal of the Ombuds Office is to advocate for fair process.

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What is unique about the OMBUDS office?

Accessibility: The Ombuds Officer is available to students for consultation. While informally investigating a situation, the Ombuds Officer has access to all university departments and records, and can communicate with all university officials. Formal investigations for the purposes of adjudication should be done by others.

Confidentiality: Identities and concerns discussed with the Ombuds Office will not be shared with anyone else without permission, except to the extent required by law. The Ombuds Office is an informal avenue that will take into consideration the interests and concerns of all members of the CMU community. It is not a place where you give notice of wrong-doing, although the Ombuds Office can direct you to the appropriate office. The Ombuds Office will not participate in any formal grievance or appeal process.

Impartiality: The Ombuds Officer does not take sides, but considers the rights and interests of all parties involved in search for a fair resolution to the problem. The Ombuds Office does not arbitrate, adjudicate, or participate in the formal grievance process.

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How to contact the Student OMBUDS office?

If you are an on-campus student, please contact:

(989) 774-3010

If you are a student at one of CMU's Off-Campus Program sites, please contact the Student Ombuds Officer for Off-Campus Programs:

Ms. Kyle Pybus
Student Ombuds Officer / Administrative Aide
CMU's Global Campus
Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
(989) 774-4456

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