What is an Ombudsperson?

The word "ombudsman" comes from the Swedish word "umbudsman," meaning "representative of the people."

The position of ombudsman comes from 1800s Sweden. With their king out of the country, the government of Sweden created the role of ombudsman to increase accountability and resolve difficult problems.

More recently, the function of an ombuds is to assist individuals and groups in the resolution of conflicts or concerns. Their role is to be a neutral party to facilitate informal resolutions to the concerns of their visitors.

The word "ombudsman" is not gendered, with "man" meaning "human," but it has become commonly replaced with ombudsperson or ombuds. George Mason University has designated the position as University Ombudsperson, but Ombuds (pronounced "om-budz") is also acceptable.

The Ombudsperson:

  • Listens with intention while remaining impartial to who is right or wrong
  • Serves as a strategic thought partner
  • Helps visitors develop options to resolve conflict or to surface issues
  • Provides visitors with resources and information about Mason's policies and systems
  • Assists visitors with informal conflict resolution and problem-solving
  • Elevates systemic trends (patterns and anomalies) and concerns to the attention of the University's leadership without breaching confidence

Learn more about the ombuds profession from the International Ombuds Association.


Mason's Office of the University Ombudsperson is available to the University's faculty, staff, students, and others involved in the University community. If you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment, feel free to call or drop by our office.