by Annie Kuzmanovic
CI has acquired a new resource for its student employees, staff and faculty, and his name is Mark Patterson, CI’s ombudsman. If you’re unsure what an ombudsman is, “(it’s) a confidential, in-house yet independent, informal and neutral or impartial resource,” said Patterson. He compared it to Human Resources, “but ultimately HR represents the University; the ombuds is not a representative of anybody.”
The ombudsman and Human Resources also differ in the ways in which they function and the types of circumstances they get involved in. “HR, for example, will help employees navigate things like evaluations or disciplinary matters,” said Patterson. However, the ombudsman will likely focus more on how to navigate through workplace relations, especially where personal differences affect the professional relationship.
Patterson is looking forward to aiding the CI community in his own way. “Even more than helping people navigate formal systems, I really enjoy working with people to come up with their own creative solutions,” Patterson said. “Most of what I do is helping people gain a new perspective on workplace problems and figure out new ways to deal with them. Small but powerful steps.”
What also interested Patterson about this position was that it would be a fresh new role here at CI. For the University, creating an ombudsman office was “…an intentional decision to be proactive in conflict resolution or management… and it means that CI is going to be intentional about recognizing that there are challenges that come with growth that (they) want to navigate smartly,” said Patterson.
Patterson is excited to bring what he has learned from his prior ombudsman experience to CI and help them start a strong and fruitful service. “The two things that are…the main goals in the short term are to get it set up and…formally established, and to get the word out about what I do and how to get in touch with me,” Patterson said.
Despite all his prior knowledge, he expressed a desire to continue growing in his profession. “I really try to work from a position of curiosity and learning myself,” said Patterson. “Especially as I’m starting new here at CI. I don’t have all the answers, so please let me know what’s working and not working, and how I might be able to help.”
If you are experiencing difficulty in your employment here at CI and are in need of an unbiased, confidential mediator, coach or confidant, Patterson is more than willing to help you work through these differences and help you feel more comfortable in your work environment. If you require his services, you can reach him via phone at 805-437-3283 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Patterson warned that emails cannot remain confidential, so please provide non-private information for him through that form of contact. He is located in University Hall in Room 1623, but he is open to meeting elsewhere if you would prefer a more casual setting.