UMass Boston

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Ombuds Services

Do you have a university-related conflict or concern?

The Office of Ombuds Services is a confidential resource available to UMass Boston students, faculty, and staff.

The Ombuds can help you think through complex issues and generate a range of options or approaches. You are in the driver’s seat—and get to decide on any next steps. The Ombuds can provide practical assistance in a variety of ways—by serving as a sounding board, helping to clarify concerns, coaching for improved communication, explaining policies, locating resources, making anonymous inquiries, facilitating conversations, and more. 

The Ombuds doesn’t have institutional authority or participate in formal processes. Talking with the Ombuds does not put your concern “on the record” or place the university “on notice”—however we can help you explore different options for formally addressing or reporting your concern. 

In addition to working with individuals and groups the Ombuds serves the campus by supporting effective communication, ethical and fair practices, equity and inclusion, and a culture of dignity and respect. Through our work we are able to surface and aggregate organizational issues and trends and bring those to the attention of campus leaders. 

By offering a confidential and informal channel for addressing concerns, the Ombuds helps create a healthier work and learning environment and supports a more positive organizational culture.

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Make an Appointment

Appointments with the Ombuds can be conducted by phone, Zoom, or in person. To schedule your confidential appointment please email or call 617.287.6861.

Email the Ombuds

Charter, Ethics & Standards of Practice

The UMass Boston Office of Ombuds Services is confidential, informal, impartial, and independent and operates in accordance with its Charter and the International Ombuds Association’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

University Ombudsperson Martha N. Patrick

About the Ombuds

Martha Patrick, MEd, CO-OP® was appointed as the inaugural University Ombudsperson and Director of Ombuds Services in June 2023. She provides confidential, informal, impartial, and independent assistance to students, faculty, and staff. Martha has worked in public higher education for 25 years, previously at UMass Amherst and UConn. She has specialized training in mediation, facilitation, and conflict coaching and has earned CO-OP® certification through the International Ombuds Association.

Read About Martha's Appointment

Your Visit: What to Expect

Intake.  When you first meet with the Ombuds, we will conduct a brief intake. This gives us the information we need to follow up with you and statistical information we collect about our work. Any identifying information is treated as confidential. We’ll also review our standards of practice to be sure you understand how we operate and to answer any questions you may have.

Conversation.  Next, you’ll have a chance to talk through the issue that brought you to the office. The Ombuds may ask clarifying questions, but mostly we will listen without judgment in order to understand your concern.

Options & Coaching.  The Ombuds will work with you to develop options to help you resolve your concern. We can clarify relevant university policies, procedures, and norms. We can identify available resources or explain the channels for making a formal complaint. We can serve as a conflict coach—helping you outline talking points, draft an email, or develop a plan of action. Sometimes we can help by making an anonymous inquiry, serving as an intermediary or impartial facilitator. You and the Ombuds will discuss and weigh your options so that you can determine how you want to proceed - and you will decide whether or when to take any next steps. 

Non-Identifying Data.  When your matter is concluded, the Ombuds will enter non-identifying data into the Ombuds database, delete identifying information, and shred any informal notes the Ombuds may have taken. Each year, Ombuds Services aggregates the non-identifying information and issues an annual report summarizing the types of concerns brought to the office.

What We Do/Don't Do

We do:

  • Listen to your concerns without judgment
  • Provide you with an impartial perspective and help you identify underlying issues
  • Work with you to devise and consider a range of options and resources
  • Help you prepare for difficult conversations and open avenues of communication
  • Help you understand and navigate university policies and procedures
  • Provide informal conflict resolution services such as facilitated conversations

We don’t:

  • Take sides or decide who is right/wrong in a conflict or concern
  • Maintain or provide records that identify you
  • Participate in formal investigations or processes
  • Provide legal advice
  • Provide psychological counseling
  • Enforce, revise, or rescind existing policies, regulations, or laws

Contact Us

Martha Patrick, MEd, CO-OP®
University Ombudsperson & Director of Ombuds Services
Phone: 617.287.6861