Ombuds Office continues serving Emory community through remote learning phase

Emory Report | April 8, 2020

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University ombuds Lynell Cadray and Brian Green are still serving the Emory community during this time of remote learning. They are available for conversations with faculty, staff or students via telephone, videoconference or email.

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Navigating college can sometimes be a challenging prospect for students, whether they’re trying to communicate more effectively with a professor, resolve a difference with a roommate or find someone who can listen objectively as they talk through an issue.

Those are the times when Brian Green of Emory’s Ombudsman Office hopes students might reach out to him for guidance or support.

“A key attribute of our office is that we’re here to listen and to help people think through how they might resolve individual or institutional conflicts,” Green says. “We can also help people navigate to information or other resources they might need for their particular situation.”

Green began his time at Emory as an Oxford College student, then graduated from Emory College of Arts and Sciences. He later earned degrees from Emory School of Law and Candler School of Theology.

He believes his life as an Emory student, time spent with the Peace Corps and work as an attorney all contribute to his role as associate ombuds.

“My time in the Peace Corps helped me develop a longstanding interest in human rights, social justice and conflict resolution,” he says. “I loved the counseling aspect of law and helping people engage in difficult conversations and find resolutions to their situations. That ties together a lot of what I do now.”

An ombuds is an independent, neutral, third-party navigator who assists people in resolving issues or concerns. At Emory, they follow an informal approach: listening and exploring options that might include consultation, negotiation and/or mediation surrounding a topic. While they protect individuals’ confidentiality, they are responsible for reporting feedback to the president regarding trends and making recommendations for constructive change in areas needing improvement.

Green focuses his efforts on helping students who need a communications resource. University ombuds Lynell Cadray is available to assist Emory faculty or staff.

“One thing I stress to students is that we offer an informal place to share concerns or ask for help thinking through options,” Green says. “Coming to us does not automatically trigger an official process that they can’t control. We help guide them to see how they can best empower themselves to deal with the issue at hand.”

That guidance might include mediating or facilitating discussions, role playing to better prepare for conversations or sharing tactics to build confidence and trust.

All ombuds services continue to be available, even while many in the Emory community have transitioned to teach, learn and work remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The university has created the Coronavirus Updates for the Emory Community webpage to provide updates and support resources to reflect the most recent guidance and developments,” Green says. “Most questions related to COVID-19 issues can be answered via the information on that website. But if students, faculty or staff have other questions or concerns and are not sure where to turn, the Office of the Ombuds is here to help. 

Those interested in connecting with Green or Cadray should email the ombuds office to schedule an initial conversation. Because email by nature is not confidential, the message should only contain the individual’s name and request for an appointment.

“This is an optimal time to focus on resilience,” Cadray says. “As we transition to ‘social distancing’ and ‘sheltering in place,’ we are each experiencing something that is unfamiliar. But we must remember that we are all in this together.”

“Please take a collective approach rather than a singular one,” she adds. “Now is not the time to isolate yourself, but to reach out to those you trust most.”