UI Office of the Ombudsperson sees increase in visitors from 2021 to 2022

The University of Iowa office released its annual report on Tuesday, detailing increased visits overall, with faculty and staff making up the majority of visitors.


Emily Wangen

The Jefferson Building is seen on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. UI Office of the Ombudsperson sees visitors from the university community to help with independent problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Grace Katzer, News Reporter

The University of Iowa’s Office of the Ombudsperson saw an increase in visitors during the 2021-22 academic year, according to its newest annual report. 

At a UI Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday, the report detailed higher numbers of faculty visitors. The Ombuds Office serves the UI community by providing confidential, impartial, informal, and independent problem-solving and conflict resolution. 

The UI’s newest ombudsperson Chanelle Reese presented the report. There are three people who currently work at the office of the ombudsperson. 

According to the office’s 2021-22 report, visits increased 9.7 percent throughout the year: 

  • The number of visitors increased from 646 in 2021 to 661 in 2022. 
  • UI staff visited the office the most with 46 percent of total visitors being staff, a 5 percent increase from 2020-21. 

Of the visitors, 55 percent of the concerns were related to relationship issues, and 32 percent of visitors indicated disrespectful behavior as a concern, an 8 percent increase from 2020-22. 

The report noted the COVID-19 pandemic as a potential cause of increased disrespectful behaviors from faculty and students.

“Navigating workplace dynamics in the virtual environment for a significant period has increased the probability of new frictions as people returned to the workplace,” the report read. “This has contributed to an increase in stress levels as the pandemic remains a constant factor.”

Seventy-one percent of cases were a perceived risk to campus:

  • 36 percent caused by loss of productivity, a 6 percent decrease from the 2020-21 report
  • 14 percent caused by policy violations, a 4 percent decrease from the 2020-21 report
  • 18 percent caused by turnover, a 3 percent increase from the 2020-21 report
  • 2 percent accounted for safety, a 3 percent decrease from the 2020-21 report

The report also highlighted bullying as a key issue on campus, raising concerns about discrimination. 

“Several of the visitors from these groups have been women and/or people expressing feelings of being isolated and marginalized, impeding their perceived ability to voice their concerns safely in the workplace,” the report read.

The report includes that the federal grants the UI receives, such as the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, will be lost if the university has hostile work environments. The report also included the funding agencies’ hostile work environment guidelines and sanctions. 

Recommendations for the next year included proactive coaching of faculty members to serve as a reminder of student success, as well as focusing on ensuring that faculty and staff have the emotional and psychological support necessary to be productive and content in their work.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that faculty made up the majority of visitors. The Daily Iowan regrets this error.