Lee Potts and Larry Singell, the Faculty Ombuds at CU Boulder, report that they handled 57 cases in the 2009-10 academic year, a 42.5% increase from the prior year. The report indicates that the Faculty Ombuds consulted with a total of 87 people regarding cases and engaged with 215 individuals through service and outreach activities.
Potts and Singell identified six important trends in their report. Many will sound familiar to Ombuds at other state institutions or universities:
- The budget cuts or perceived cuts threaten an increase in the frequency, intensity and complexity of workplace conflict. The data above reflects this in a number of ways, including more instances of conflict within evaluative relationships, more concerns about career development, and more conflict arising from increased peer competitiveness.
- Conflict avoidant behavior characterized most of the cases; that is, usually the person initiating contact with our office had avoided dealing with the problem until the conflict had escalated significantly (or faced resistance because the individuals involved also adopted an avoidance approach to the conflict).
- Termination of employment was used more frequently as a means of problem solving.
- Concern regarding student incivility increased.
- Concern about legal issues increased (from 1 last year to 9 this year).