In an effort to expand assistance to employees seeking to resolve workplace issues, Colorado State University has hired a new full-time ombuds.
Melissa Emerson, a conflict resolution practitioner who worked in CSU’s Division of Student Affairs for nearly 15 years, is the new university ombuds designated for administrative professionals and state classified personnel.
The Office of the Ombuds provides confidential workplace issue assistance to university faculty, administrative professionals, state classified personnel and other employees. Emerson joins Kathy Rickard, the faculty ombuds who also is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, in the office located in the General Services Building.
“We know that conflicts are part of every single workplace,” Emerson said. “When we can we can assist with conflict prevention, navigating challenging times and having those difficult conversations so employees have a better workplace, then that’s a win for the university as a whole.”
Emerson, who earned her graduate degree in conflict analysis and resolution, spent more than a decade helping lead CSU’s Student Resolution Center, where she expanded conflict resolution services and added three additional full-time staff members.
In her new role, she is looking forward to working with the campus community and letting them know about the services of the Office of the Ombuds.
Rickard, who has been faculty ombuds for several years and is a member of the International Ombudsman Association, said Emerson’s experience and skills are a valuable asset to the office.
“Her formal training in mediation from a variety of perspectives is going to be really useful,” Rickard said. “She’s managed an office. She’s grown an office. She has a vision. She is interested in making the ombuds office more visible, and I’m excited to have her as a colleague.”
Office of the Ombuds
The university ombuds position was previously a half-time position, with the other half focused on the Employee Assistance Program.
According to Emerson, her position helps to address workplace concerns of employees with problem solving and conflict management. She added that the Office of the Ombuds is neutral, informal and independent, which means it does not advocate for any individual or entity and attempts to help employees resolve concerns at the lowest level possible.
Emerson, who started in her new role at the end of January, said the office doesn’t report on cases to any administrator of the university except as aggregate data that protects visitors.
“The integrity of this program is based on the foundation of confidentiality, and we are not going to share out what they say,” said Emerson, who also is a member of the International Ombudsman Association and the Association for Conflict Resolution. “We empower employees to make decisions on how they are going to navigate whatever the challenge they may be facing.”
Contact the Office of the Ombuds
The Office of the Ombuds offers confidential assistance to university faculty, administrative professionals, state classified, and other employees of Colorado State University who seek help in resolving workplace issues. Phone calls are encouraged for setting appointments.
University Ombuds: (970) 491-1527
For administrative professionals, state classified personnel and other employees
Faculty Ombuds: (970) 491-5121
Address: 316 General Services Building