Aerial photo of South Bethlehem

The Ombuds Office

The Ombuds Office of Lehigh University, open to all members of the Lehigh community, can help resolve problems or complaints within the university community. Its services are independent of the university administration and are confidential. It can provide information on university policies and practices, help examine alternatives, and find the proper authorities to resolve the conflicts. As an unbiased “third party,” the office can frequently find solutions that have eluded the interested parties.

A Historical Perspective

In recent years, Ombudsmen in the United States have moved to a less gender specific word, Ombuds or Ombudsperson, to reflect current societal norms. The word Ombud is of Swedish origin and means the people's representative, agent, attorney, solicitor, deputy, proxy, or delegate. The first Ombudsman was appointed by the Parliament of Sweden in 1809 to resolve problems in the absence of the country's abducted king. The Swedish model of a public sector Ombudsman who deals with complaints from the public regarding decisions, actions or omissions of public administration was widely adopted by other nations. In addition, many countries have established human rights commissions, which use Ombuds as a means of promoting and protecting human rights. It is estimated that there are Ombuds at the national level of government in 110 countries around the world.

Source: Catherwood Library, Cornell University