Fundamental Principles

people walking down path

In addition to the International Ombuds Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, there are four fundamental principles which define the Ombuds function.


Confidentiality helps create a safe place for visitors to voice concerns, evaluate issues, and identify options. It is essential to the Ombuds function at Boston University. The Ombuds will not disclose the name of any individual who has visited the office or issues that were discussed with anyone outside of the Ombuds Office unless permission to do so has been given by the individual during the course of the confidential communication. The only exception to confidentiality is where the Ombuds determines that there is an imminent risk of serious harm.


All conversations with the Ombuds are considered informal and off-the-record.  The Ombuds does not make decisions on behalf of the institution or override the decisions of other officials.  The Ombuds does not maintain permanent records of confidential communication or testify or participate in formal legal grievances or complaints.  Formal investigations and grievances are the purview of other offices.


The Ombuds provides objective assessments of any concern brought to the office.  As an impartial third-party neutral, the Ombuds is an advocate for equity, fair process, and the fair administration of process, but does not take sides on behalf of any individual or cause.


The ombuds reports directly to the president of Boston University.  The Office is independent and is situated outside of the University’s normal administrative structure to better ensure impartiality. The ombuds neither compels other offices to take specific action nor receives compulsory orders from other offices about how to approach a particular issue.