image of small stone bridge
© Duke University, all rights

Our ombudspeople offer neutral and confidential guidance on a variety of issues for all students and faculty at Duke.

Primary Role of the Ombudsperson

  • Provides a neutral, safe, and confidential environment to talk
  • Listens to concerns and complaints and discusses appropriate options
  • Helps to evaluate those options
  • Assists students in resolving problems
  • Mediates conflicts, convenes meetings, engages in "shuttle diplomacy"
  • Refers students to appropriate campus resources
  • Provides information about university resources

Examples of Services Provided by the Ombudsperson

  • Helps resolve or mediate a dispute with an individual or group.
  • Helps decide how to approach a person who you think is causing a problem.
  • Discusses how to approach a fellow student who has made an offensive or insensitive comment.
  • Assists when you are uncertain what Duke policies or procedures apply to your situation.
  • Assists when you don't know what individual or university department is appropriate to go to for an answer to a specific question or to obtain a particular service.
  • Helps when you feel as if you have been unfairly treated by anyone on campus.
  • Engages in "shuttle diplomacy" to solve a problem between you and a student/employee.
  • Helps you evaluate and select among a variety of options to address a concern with a fellow student or department
  • Helps resolve or mediate a non-grade- or non-evaluation-related dispute with a faculty member.

Services Not Offered by the Ombudsperson

  • Adjudicates or participates in formal university grievance processes
  • Determines guilt of any party in a dispute
  • Gets involved in any formal litigation or testify in court
  • Provides legal advice
  • Assigns sanctions to individuals
  • Replaces the function of any official university office, department, or process
  • Keeps records of students and/or conversations


Undergraduate, Graduate, and Non-School of Medicine Professional Students

John Blackshear, Ph.D. - interim
Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Students
Phone: 919-668-3853

School of Medicine Students and Postdoctoral Appointees

Jean Spaulding, M.D.
Phone: 919-668-3326

Duke University Faculty Members

Paul Manos, Ph.D.
Phone: 919-949-8687

School of Medicine Faculty Members

Laura Svetkey, M.D. M.H.Sc.
Phone: 919-681-7788