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Release: Immediate

UI announces a new mediation service for faculty, staff and student employees

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa has announced a new mediation service designed to give faculty, staff, and student employees a way to resolve workplace conflicts that will be less formal than filing a grievance or going to court. The program will begin Oct. 1.

The idea for the new service originated in the ombudsperson's office and was developed through discussions involving human resources, the university general counsel, and the provost, says Maile Sagen, university ombudsperson.

"We were looking for a simple, straightforward way for staff, faculty, and student employees to resolve conflicts that arise in their work," Sagen says. "The process we've devised here should be much faster and less formal than the usual grievance procedures. We also believe the process offers a better chance that all parties will end up in a win-win situation that will be better for the community."

The mediation service, sponsored by the vice president for finance and university services, the office of the provost, and the general counsel, will be coordinated by the ombudsperson's office. Mediators will be volunteers who have received extensive training in mediation skills. Any university employee is eligible to use the service to address employment issues between or among any members of the university community. Mediation is not available to investigate allegations or to appeal formal university employment decisions such as those involving promotion, tenure, discharge, or discipline.

Mediators will not issue orders or find fault, Sagen says, nor will they make any decisions for the parties. Instead, they will help the parties better understand each others' concerns and find practical solutions. "

"Our goals are to offer an informal and voluntary means to resolve disputes that respects individual and cultural differences, that clears up misunderstandings, finds areas of agreement, and helps the conflicting parties to define their underlying interests and concerns and to incorporate them into solutions," Sagen says.