• Ethical Principles & Standards of Practice

    Charter of UCR Office of the Ombuds

    The Charter outlines the relationship between UC Riverside and the UCR Office of the Ombuds.  It recognizes the core operating principles of the UCR Office of the Ombuds, denotes the authority and limitations of the Office, and acknowledges that the Office operates in conformity with professional standards as outlined by the International Ombudsman Association (IOA).

    Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
    International Ombudsman Association:

    The UCR Office of the Ombuds, along with the other UC Offices, practices in accordance with the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics promulgated by the IOA.

    Essential Characteristics of the Office

    • Confidentiality: The Ombuds Office does not disclose any information that could be associated with particular Visitors to the Office, unless: 1) Both the Visitor and the Office agree to the disclosure, 2) The Ombuds determines that there is an imminent threat of serious physical harm, or 3) The Office is otherwise compelled by law.  Communications with the Office of the Ombuds do not constitute notice to the University.
    • Informality: The Office does not participate directly in formal processes, as a fact-finder, adjudicator, witness, advocate, participant or in any other capacity. The Office can work to resolve problems informally, may help Visitors consider whether or how to utilize formal processes, and may raise concerns about fair process.
    • Impartiality: The Office does not advocate on behalf of any individual, entity, or constituent group, including the University.  However, the Office may advocate for fair process and related principles of fairness and equity.
    • Independence: The Office is Functionally Independent of the University, operating in accordance with its Charter, and reporting for budgetary and administrative purposes to the Provost/EVC in order to maximize functional distance from UCR's organizational hierarchy.

    Declaration of Best Practices for UC Ombuds Offices

    The University of California system's Ombuds Offices have agreed to adhere to the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics under the International Ombudsman Association ("IOA"), and have collectively issued a shared Declaration of Best Practices for UC Ombuds Offices

  • Values of the Office

    Below are the core values that the UC Riverside Ombuds Office aspires to, and uses to guide and influence all services provided by the office.

    • Sanctuary - We create an environment where Visitors can feel comfortable speaking openly about whatever difficulties they encounter at UCR.
    • Empowerment - We equip Visitors with the relevant tools, resources, policies & procedures, skills, and options they need to tailor an approach that best reflects their goals. "Never do for others what they can do for themselves."
    • Self-Determination - We honor Visitors' agency and autonomy in determining which path is best for them in their situation.
    • Voice - We listen and provide a space for Visitors to feel heard.  We empower Visitors to use their voices as effective as possible.
    • Dignity - We treat all who interact with the office to the same high level of respect and empathy.
    • Fairness - We advocate for fairness, justice & equity in the outcomes, processes, and behaviors that impact all members of the UCR community. 
    • Integrity - We communicate honestly and seek to be worthy of trust.
    • Service - We attend to Visitors and provide a service they find valuable.
  • What the Ombuds Will and Will Not Do

    The Ombuds Will Likely:

    • Discuss the process and the operating principles of the Office with you;
    • Give you time to speak freely and listen to your concerns;
    • Help you analyze the problem, identify issues, and discuss relevant UCR and UC policies and regulations;
    • Answer your questions about policies and procedures;
    • Ask you questions to ensure all relevant information is considered;
    • Encourage you to consider other perspectives and assist in communication when appropriate;
    • Provide information about other campus resources that may be helpful to you;
    • Discuss creative ideas for solutions and options that may be available to help resolve the problem;
    • With your consent, gather more information in order to generate more options for resolution;
    • With the consent of all involved, act as a facilitator or mediator to encourage parties to communicate, make recommendations and/or negotiate a fair resolution;
    • Look into the general area of concern with a view toward improving a policy or procedure, existing systems or structures. Such recommendations for improvements are made by the Ombuds without breaching confidentiality: that is, without divulging identities or other information that would identify persons involved in a specific incident.
    • Keep statistical information on the numbers and kinds of problems encountered, without any names or identifiers.

    The Ombuds Will NOT:

    • Advocate on behalf of individuals, entities, or constituent groups, including the university.
    • Participate or intervene in formal processes on campus or off campus;
    • Take part in recorded consultations;
    • Change or overturn decisions made by others on campus;
    • Make a decision on a matter;
    • Provide legal advice;
    • Give notice to the University regarding issues brought to the attention of the Office of the Ombuds. If you want UCR to "be on notice," that is, to formally know about a particular problem and formally respond, the Ombuds can help you identify what office you would need to contact;
    • Create or maintain university records on complaints.  The Office only collects non-identifying statistical data. If a visitor needs to keep a record of their specific incident, s/he alone is responsible for doing so;  
    • Address issues covered under a collective bargaining agreement. In such cases, you are likely to be referred to your union representative or Labor Relations;
    • Either duplicate or contravene processes set by policy. The Office of the Ombuds supplements existing processes;

    Please see the Charter Agreement for further information regarding the Office of the Ombuds' functions, responsibilities and limitations. 

  • FAQs

    Does the Ombuds create or maintain records?

    • No. The Office of the Ombuds is an informal resource, and does not create or maintain records on matters, specific issues, individuals or other identifying information. The Office avoids communicating about substantive issues via email or fax.  Phone or in-person contact is encouraged.

    Is everything shared with the office of the Ombuds confidential?

    • Confidentiality applies to most conversations and is a long-established practice. The main exception is when, in the judgment of the Ombuds, there is an immediate threat of physical harm to self or others.  If both the Visitor and Ombuds agree, the Ombuds may discuss otherwise confidential information with other parties.
    • Any feedback provided to the University by the Office does not include identifying or other confidential information.

    Does the Ombudsman give notice to the University?

    • Disclosures or complaints made to the Office of the Ombuds do not constitute notice to the University. If a visitor wishes to give notice regarding specific incident(s), s/he may wish to discuss with the Ombuds what options are available to provide effective notice to the University. However, the Office of the Ombuds does not operate as an agent of the University and generally may not receive notice on behalf of it.

    Can I seek the Ombuds' assistance once I have filed a formal grievance or complaint?

    • The Office of the Ombuds will not participate or intervene in formal grievance or complaint processes. It is important to remember that the Ombuds is an informal resource and is not a part of the typical University structure.
    • Without becoming involved in an ongoing formal University process, however, the Ombuds can provide guidance on formal procedures, such as advising on pertinent policies, appeal options, assisting with understanding procedural outcomes, or raising concerns of procedural fairness.
    • Once a formal process has ended, the Ombuds may assist any interested individuals or groups with improving communication and working relationships.

    Can the Office of the Ombuds assist me with an issue if I am a union member?

    • It depends on whether the matter is covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The Ombuds may not address issues covered by the by the CBA and will likely refer the Visitor to appropriate resources such as the Visitor's Union Representative or Labor Relations.
    • If the issue is determined to be external to the contract and would not impede upon it, the Ombuds may still be able to assist in its resolution.

    Does the Office of the Ombuds provide legal advice or services?

    • No. The Office of the Ombuds does not provide any type of legal advice or services (or psychological treatment and services).
  • Staff

    Who are we?

    Andrew Larratt-Smith - Campus Ombuds
    Andrew has been the UC Riverside Ombuds since 2011. Andrew has been active in the field of alternative dispute resolution since 2004, mediating conflicts first in Boston and then in Southern California, before becoming an Ombuds. Over the years, Andrew has worked in a wide range of functions within higher education including: campus ministry, network administration, housing services, and academic program administration.  Andrew holds a Juris Doctor* from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, with a specialization in Critical Race Studies, a Master of Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine School of Law, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Yale.  He serves as an instructor for courses on Ombuds practice.  He is a member of the International Ombudsman Association and a member of the California Bar* (inactive).  Andrew is a proud Canadian and a board game enthusiast.

     *The UC Riverside Ombuds Office is not a legal service and does not provide legal advice. 

    John Medinilla - Intake and Outreach Coordinator
    John has been with UC Riverside since 2016.  Before coming to UC Riverside, John also worked in the Los Angeles World Airports (LAX) Ombudsman Office and was a mediator in the LA Superior Court.  John received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Pepperdine University in 2011.   He received his Masters of Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine School of Law in 2013.  When not at work, John can be found camping or working on home projects.

  • History
    50th Anniversary Logo

    History of the Ombuds at the University of California, Riverside

    • The Office of the Ombudsman at the University of California, Riverside has a very rich and proud history.  Created November 20, 1968 under Chancellor Ivan Hinderaker, it is one of the oldest Ombuds Offices in the nation.
    • The Office was created during the 1960s, an era of turbulence and change, when American universities first began to experiment with the ombudsman concept to help resolve issues that demanded impartiality and independence the university could not provide through other offices or services.  It's initial mandate to respond to student complaints quickly expanded to serve all members of the campus community.
    • Thanks to the hard work of Ombuds who have served in the Office throughout the years, the people the Office serves, the University, and the growing organizational Ombuds field and its professional guidance, the Office of the Ombuds continues its important work with faculty, administrators, staff, students, and others in the community who encounter concerns and conflict.  There have been a few changes over the years, the name has evolved, and professional standards have crystalized.  In 2008, UCR formally recognized the privileges, responsibilities and functions of the Office of the Ombuds through the Charter Agreement
    • The Office also contributes towards overall organizational wellness and needed changes by talking to people at all levels, observing trends and systemic issues, and then providing feedback and recommendations to the right sources.  For the prevention of unnecessary conflict and to pass on important skills to the community, the Office provides educational resources and workshops to the campus community to nurture a culture of healthy conflict engagement. 
    • Despite the years, Chancellor Hinderaker's vision rings as true today as it did in 1968 and the UCR Ombuds Office continues to serve as an independent resource to assist in "humanizing the UCR campus, making it a viable and responsible institution of people." 

    Directors of the UCR Office of the Ombuds

    • 1968-1969: John Coleman, Inaugural Director
    • 1969-1975: Robert B. Herschler, Director
    • 1975-1981: Curtis Grassman, Director
    • 1981-2006: Andrea Briggs, Director
    • 2006-2007: Tom Kosakowski, Interim Director
    • 2007-2010: Indu Sen, Director
    • 2011-present: Andrew Larratt-Smith, Director


  • Summary Data & Published Reports

    Summary Data and Published Reports of the UCR Office of the Ombuds.

  • Anonymous Feedback Survey

    The Ombuds Office has created this survey to help our office make sure we are delivering the best possible experience to our visitors.  We welcome all feedback with the goal to provide excellent service to the UCR community.

    Survey is 100% anonymous.  Just as our office is a confidential resource, this survey only asks non-identifiable questions that are the same regardless of a visitor's constituency group (Student, Staff, Faculty, & Community).