Ombudsman, Ombudsperson, Ombud and Ombuds are interchangeable terms that have become a matter of institutional or individual preference. At UNC Charlotte, we have adopted Ombuds as our term of preference. The word Ombudsman* is of Swedish origin and means “representative” and is sometimes thought of as a legal representative or advocate.
There are a variety of types of Ombuds, each having their distinct range of responsibilities. At UNC Charlotte we use an “organizational Ombuds.” The organizational Ombuds is a designated neutral who is appointed or employed by an organization to facilitate the informal resolution of concerns of employees, managers, students, and, sometimes, external clients of the organization.1
*The term ombudsman is used to communicate to the widest possible community and is not intended to discourage others from using alternatives. IOA respectfully acknowledges that many practitioners use alternative forms of this word. International Ombudsman Association. The Ombuds Association Website
1 Wesley, Margo, The Compleat Ombuds A Spectrum of Resolution Services, CPER Journal No. 166 (June 2004).