A word cloud depicting words used to describe the ombuds office
Feb. 3, 2023


It’s with deep satisfaction that I unveil the annual report charting the progress of UNLV’s Ombuds Office in calendar 2022. Before you read the entire report, you may want to look at a few of its highlights, as well as my thoughts on what they mean.

The annual report gives me and Ombuds Office Program Manager Tifara Rachal a chance to reflect on the work we have done and what we would like to do in the future. I see the report as providing accountability for us and the office—if people want to know what the office does, they can get a very good idea by reading it. This is important because, by design, much of our work must remain private due to the critical confidentiality of the ombuds role. Seeing so many people at UNLV work so hard every day, I like to be able to pull the curtain back—just a bit—to give an idea of what happens in the office.

We compiled this report by tabulating the demographic and category data (the only information of any kind that is generated by visits to the office), organizing it in a way that can shed light on the office’s work by preserving completely the confidentiality of those who use it. We report general user demographics (gender, employment or student status), while never including information on which specific department or office a visitor works for—that information is not collected and recorded. Similarly, we do not link the issues brought to the office with visitor demographics. While it looks like, statistically, the “average” visitor to the office last year was a female administrative faculty member who met with me in person and discussed issues she’s having with communicating with their supervisor, there’s nothing that would indicate that someone meeting that description from a particular unit met with me.

One of the big questions I get is, who uses the office and how much?

First, a quick note on terminology. For reporting purposes, we define “contact” as any interaction with a visitor to the office about a matter they wish to discuss, whether in person or remotely. Workshops, facilitations, and other group interactions are not counted as contacts.

A “visitor” is anyone who uses the office, whether remotely or in person—again, not including workshop participants and those involved in group facilitation. A unique visitor is someone who uses the office at least once a quarter.

In calendar 2022, the Ombuds Office had 563 contacts with 362 unique visitors. By comparison, in 2021, when the office was only accepting visitors after June 1, we had 219 contacts. Looking only at the numbers, we can see that in 2022, the office had much greater utilization. This is evidence that the extensive outreach since the office was reconstituted has raised awareness of it.

Looking at patterns of use, contacts averaged about 40 in most months, with significantly more in March, slightly more in September, and slightly less in July. March’s increase may be attributable to issues surrounding annual evaluations and the announcement of merit’s return. Since many academic faculty were not on campus in July, a decrease in that month makes sense.

In 2021, 40 percent of contacts were remote, with 29 percent in person and the balance phone or email. Reflecting the continuing return to in-person work and instruction over the past year, those numbers reversed in 2022, with 47 percent of contacts in person, 33 percent remote, and the balance via phone, email, or chat. A quick reminder: in person, remote, and phone meetings are highly preferable to email and chat, since both mediums can present confidentiality issues.

Over 40 percent of contacts were an hour in length, with 30 minutes and 15 minutes somewhat popular. A small number of contacts were as long as two hours.

Demographically, women continued the represent the majority of visitors to the office (64 percent), with men at 35 percent and those identifying as nonbinary or other at one percent. When considering race and ethnicity, the visitors more closely resembled UNLV’s faculty and staff than its student population. White visitors were in the majority at 63 percent of the total, with Black visitors representing 15 percent, Asian and Pacific Islanders 14 percent, Hispanic 12 percent, “other” or multi-racial 7 percent, and Native American 1 percent.

But the bigger question always is, what do people come see you about? As an aside, when I get asked that question, it’s sometimes phrased as “complain,” which I take exception to, since “complain” has a slight tinge of implication that the concern isn’t legitimate or resolvable, when most times it is both, and in any event, it’s not my role to determine the former but rather to assist all who visit the office in getting the best possible resolution.

The top concern brought to the office is still communication in evaluative relationships (usually a supervisor and supervisee), with 38 percent of all contacts having that as at least one element of concern. Communication with peers followed at 24 percent. Other top concerns included respect and treatment by both colleagues and supervisors, organizational and departmental climate, the quality of services delivered to those we serve, compensation, and diversity-related issues.

The feedback collected anonymously from visitors after their use of the office, a representative sampling of which is included in the report itself, testifies to the important role that the Ombuds Office serves on campus. I encourage you to read the full report to get a sense of it.   


In addition to the time spent with individual visitors, the office actively worked with groups. I led 28 group workshops, made 19 presentations to departments or units, and hosted 10 facilitated conversations. In addition, our mediation practice conducted seven two-party mediations.


Overall, the statistics and qualitative feedback indicate that the office was a valuable resource for the campus, providing a confidential, independent, impartial, and informal place for members of the community to explore their concerns. I hope that in 2023 we continue to burnish our reputation as a place where everyone is welcome, a place that anyone can use to take the first step towards a better resolution of their concerns or receive information.

Whether you are a student, faculty member, or other UNLV employee, the Ombuds Office has many resources available to help you through any conflict you might be facing. If you are having an issue and are uncertain where to go, it is an excellent zero-barrier first stop.  If you would like to talk privately and confidentially about any work- or campus-related concern, please make an appointment with the Ombuds.

David G. Schwartz

UNLV Ombuds