University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
August 28, 2013
Contact: Alice Jackson, USA Public Relations, (251) 460-6639

University Selects Management Professor as
First Faculty Ombudsperson

Dr. Jeanne Maes
Click here to download a high resolution version.

An accomplished business professor and professional mediator with nearly 30 years of service to the University of South Alabama has been chosen as the University’s first faculty ombudsperson.  

Professor of Management Dr. Jeanne Maes was selected by Acting President Dr. John Smith in collaboration with the USA Faculty Senate.  Maes will begin her role as USA’s faculty ombudsperson this fall.

The faculty ombudsperson serves as a confidential, independent and neutral resource available to the faculty to facilitate and encourage cooperation and consensus throughout the workplace by mediation.

"I am extremely pleased that Dr. Maes has agreed to be the University's first faculty ombudsperson," Smith said.  "She has consistently displayed a high level of expertise within the University community and the Gulf Coast region, and we are indeed fortunate that her arbitration and mediation skills will now be available to an even greater degree for our faculty.  This important position will foster confidence, respect and cooperation in our mutual pursuit of excellence.”

“The creation of a campus ombudsperson is something the faculty senate has been working toward for some time, and we are happy to see the work that we and the administration have put into doing it right come to fruition,” said Faculty Senate President Dr. Doug Marshall. "We on the faculty senate believe that having an ombudsperson will pay great dividends for everyone in the University community by improving communication between administrators and faculty, as well as among faculty, and by resolving disputes and tensions earlier so that they don't fester and create bigger problems down the road. This represents another step toward greater faculty autonomy and engagement with the governance of the University."

"It is an honor to be selected to employ my experiences in negotiation and mediation to serve the University community and all faculty members as the first faculty ombudsperson,” Maes said.  “In this role, I hope to be a facilitator for further faculty autonomy and help resolve communication issues between faculty and administrators." 

Maes will serve as a “neutral third-party” to provide informal and confidential assistance to any USA faculty member if concerns and complaints should arise within the work environment. Ultimately, the primary goal is to promote fair and just alternatives in difficult circumstances to resolve work-related issues with faculty only. The faculty ombudsperson will not be responsible for faculty issues between USA staff or students. These conflicts should be reported to the Department of Human Resources and the Division of Student Affairs respectively.

A faculty member with concerns may come to the ombudsperson without committing to further disclosure or any formal resolution.  Any future steps are always determined by the faculty members and depend on the circumstances and comfort with possible options.  

The faculty ombudsperson will provide the president and faculty senate with an annual confidential statistical report summarizing the activities of the ombudsperson and may identify systemic problems.  The position practices to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the International Ombudsman Association.

Maes has been a member of the University community since 1985.  She serves as a professor in the Management department in the Mitchell College of Business.  Her areas of professional expertise include organizational communication, negotiation, team-building, organization development and alternative dispute resolution -- encompassing conflict prevention, intervention and resolution.  A mediator and arbitrator, Maes has served as volunteer mediator in Baldwin County District Court for three years.  Additionally, she has worked for many years in both the public and private sectors with multi-party disputes.

Maes received a bachelor of science degree from the State University of New York, a master’s in business administration from USA and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi.



USA Logo