UGA introduces Ombudspersons Program; Dupre to represent faculty members

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Contacts: Steve Shi, 706/542-7912, sshi@uga.edu
Meg Amstutz, 706/542-0054, mamstutz@uga.edu

Athens, Ga. - Furthering UGA's commitment to creating a positive learning and work environment, an ombudspersons program has been established and three representatives have been named for students, faculty and staff.

The ombudspersons are designated individuals who serve as independent, neutral and informal resources for UGA students, faculty and staff. Rather than serving as advocates for individual members of the university community, these individuals are advocates for fairness, and they function as a source of information and referral. They assist, to the extent possible, in informally resolving concerns brought to their attention. They serve as third-party information providers who remain neutral while assisting individuals in having their concerns addressed through appropriate channels, including those related to discrimination and harassment.

In March of 2008, University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams announced that he would appoint three ombudspersons to help guide people through the process of resolving conflicts or reporting violations of UGA policy. This announcement followed campus-wide discussion over the course of the semester regarding the university's Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and reporting procedures.

"I want to thank the people who have accepted this important responsibility and who will help foster fair and equal treatment of all people on this campus," Adams said. "Attention to these issues is important to a productive work environment, to appropriate colleagueship, and to me personally. I believe these appointments are a positive step for the University of Georgia."

Shay Davis Little, director of administrative operations in University Housing, will serve as the ombudsperson for students. Little has more than 14 years of experience in student affairs (11 at UGA). In her role in University Housing, she manages the assignments process for students living in the twenty residence halls, summer conferences program, and the marketing and technology areas. She also is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Education department of counseling and human development services, teaching graduate students in the college student affairs administration program. Little currently serves as the secretary for the Southeastern Association of Housing Officers and was a participant at the National Housing Training Institute.

Anne Proffitt Dupre, a nationally recognized expert in education law and policy, will serve as the ombudsperson for faculty members. Dupre joined the University of Georgia School of Law faculty in 1994 and teaches education law, children and the law and contracts. In 2004, she became the fourth woman in Georgia Law history to be appointed to an endowed position. She currently occupies a J. Alton Hosch Professorship. Dupre is a senior fellow for the UGA Institute of Higher Education. As part of her position with the institute, she is the co-director of the Education Law Consortium, which she founded with John Dayton of the College of Education.

Kathryn M. Chetney, senior employee relations counselor of the UGA's Human Resources Office of Faculty and Staff Relations, will serve as the ombudsperson for staff members. In her employee relations role, she provides counsel to employees regarding the university's progressive discipline process, Family and Medical Leave Act, HR policies and procedures and Dispute Resolution Process. Chetney joined the university in 2004. She is certified by the Society of Human Resource Management's Human Resources Certification Institute as a Professional in Human Resources, completed the Mediating Campus Disputes program at the Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution's Summer Institute on Conflict Resolution in Higher Education, and has 20 years experience as an HR generalist. Chetney has been active in several professional and civic organizations, and also volunteers as a facilitator for the university's Academic Honesty program. She helps UGA's Human Resources Office conduct workplace investigations, as well as provides training in performance management, FLSA, FMLA and other HR initiatives across campus.

Ombudspersons supplement, but do not replace, the university's existing policies and procedures for processing and resolving student, faculty, and staff complaints and grievances. Ombudspersons also do not have direct responsibility for specific administrative processes and procedures. Rather, these individuals provide information and assistance regarding administrative processes and may serve as additional avenues for resolving the concerns of students, faculty and staff.

For more information on UGA's ombudsperson program including contact information for each ombusdperson, see http://www.uga.edu/ombudsperson/ .

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