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Office of the University Ombudsperson - Home | Michigan State University


The Office of the University Ombudsperson is comprised of the University Ombudsperson, an Assistant University Ombudsperson, as well as an Office Manager. The Office was established to assist students in resolving conflicts or disputes within the University. We also help staff members, instructors, and administrators sort through university rules and regulations that might apply to specific student issues and concerns. In addition to helping members of the MSU community resolve disputes, we also identify MSU policies that might need revision, and refer them to the appropriate academic governance committee.

These duties are carried out in a neutral, confidential, informal, and independent manner. The University Ombudspersons are not advocates for any individual or group on campus; instead, they are advocates for fairness. Talking to an Ombudsperson does not constitute filing a formal complaint or notice to the University, since the purpose of the University Ombudsperson’s Office is to provide a confidential forum where different options may be considered.

Following a request for assistance, an Ombudsperson will take one or more of the following actions:

1) listen carefully to the concern,

2) explain relevant student rights and responsibilities,

3) review relevant university policies or regulations,

4) suggest fair and equitable options,

5) refer the individual to an appropriate university resource or,

6) investigate, when necessary.

An Ombudsperson will also assist students who want to file formal complaints and grievances, which is often the final step in a student’s effort to resolve a dispute. There are systems in place at MSU to receive and hear a student’s formal grievance. Which system is used depends on the nature and location of the grievance. Although it is not required, a consultation with a University Ombudsperson is strongly recommended before entering a formal complaint or grievance in the appropriate system. Here is information about the various MSU systems used to receive formal complaints.

What We Do Not Do

The University Ombudsperson does not provide legal service, represent students or instructors at academic grievance or disciplinary hearings, or mediate disputes between or among faculty or between faculty and administrators.

How to Contact Us

Members of the MSU community may contact the University Ombudsperson in person (Room 129 of North Kedzie Hall), by e-mail (, by phone (517-353-8830), or through the online “problem report form.”

We Are Available for Presentations

Members from the Office of the University Ombudsperson are available to make presentations to student groups, faculty/staff meetings, training sessions, classes, and conferences. Topics for such presentations include: conflict resolution, academic integrity, faculty and student rights and responsibilities, and Ombuds roles and practices. If your group would like to request a presentation by our Ombuds staff please complete this Presentation Request Form.

An open letter to the MSU community about Trust

 Graphic of Shannon Burton

Shannon Lynn Burton,
University Ombudsperson

Picture of Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith, 
  Assistant University Ombudsperson

Graphic of Valerie Geyer

Valerie Geyer,
Office Manager

Brochure for Office of the University Ombudsperson - Download

Graphic Image of Brochure for Office of the University Ombuds Person