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A staff ombudsman is an impartial dispute resolution practitioner whose major function is to provide confidential and informal assistance to staff members of the university. A visitor can discuss issues and concerns with the ombudsman without committing to further disclosure or any formal resolution.

The primary responsibility of the staff ombudsman is to provide classified and unclassified staff at all eight campuses with an informal and confidential means for discussing and addressing an issue of concern without fear of reprisal. As a neutral party, the ombudsman is neither an advocate for an individual or the university, but rather one who acts as a source of information and referral; aids in answering individual’s questions; and assists in the resolution of concerns and critical situations. Faculty who have workplace concerns should contact Sue Averill, Associate Provost at 330-672-2220.

What Does a Staff Ombudsman Do?

At Kent State the Staff Ombudsman's duties include:

  • Assists in identifying and evaluating options for resolution with all parties involved;
  • Acts as a trained mediator who can facilitate in problem-solving and conflict resolution;
  • Being familiar with university resources to assist employees, including policies and procedures and the employee assistance program; and
  • Providing referrals to other resources.
What Does a Staff Ombudsman NOT Do?

At Kent State the Staff Ombudsman does not:

  • Advocate for specific outcomes
  • Breach confidentiality of the employee
  • Determine guilt or innocence
  • Make binding or administrative decisions
  • Make university policy
  • Maintain official records
  • Offer legal advice.
How Do I Contact the Staff Ombudsman?

Karen Watson is the Staff Ombudsman at Kent State University. Her office is located in Heer Hall. You can reach Karen at 330-672-4636 or All information discussed with the Staff Ombudsman will be kept confidential.

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