Welcome to the Office of the Ombuds Services for the Graduate and Professional Students
The Ombudsperson provides a safe setting for graduate and professional students to confidentially raise and discuss their concerns about workplace and academic issues, interpersonal difficulties and to receive assistance in identifying options for resolving the conflicts and concerns. The Ombudsperson operates independently, listens without judgement, remains neutral, provides an impartial perspective, and holds all conversations and information confidential except when there is imminent risk of serious harm. The Ombudsperson serves as a thinking partner and a bridge between problems and options for the resolution of concerns and conflicts. The graduate/ professional student is the ultimate decision-maker for the path of resolution.
Please note that the Ombudsperson does not address allegations of unlawful discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct. Any allegations of unlawful discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct must be filed with the Office of Equal Opportunity Services (EOS) in accordance with the university’s policies.
What an Ombudsperson Does
- Provide a confidential forum for raising issues and expressing concerns.
- Listen without judgement and offer impartial feedback.
- Assist the graduate/ professional student in exploring options to address concerns.
- Identify and refer the graduate/ professional student to resources for addressing problems and concerns.
- Clarify policies and procedures that apply to the graduate/ professional student's problem or issue.
- Provide coaching on effective communication for difficult conversations.
- Analyze and report trends in complaints and concerns, and provide recommendations for institutional improvements.
- Promote highest standards of university governance and a supportive, ethical and healthy organizational culture.
What an Ombudsperson Does Not Do
- Serve as an advocate for any party.
- Make decisions for the graduate/ professional students.
- Conduct formal investigations.
- Participate in any formal hearings, processes, procedures or testify in any judicial proceeding.
- Provide legal advice or psychological counseling.
- Receive official notice of claims against the university or put the university on notice.
- Disclose confidential information except when there is imminent risk of serious harm.
- Change policies, academic or administrative decisions.
- Keep records of conversations or any other information that identifies the graduate/ professional student's.
Why Contact the Ombudsperson
Why Contact the Ombudsperson
If you find yourself struggling with an issue and do not know where to turn, you just need to talk, need a clarification on a university policy, procedure, decision, or need an objective perspective and need somebody to explore options with you, please feel free to reach out to the Ombudsperson. There is no big or small issue.
The services of the Ombudsperson are free of charge, accessible and voluntary. Conversations with the Ombudsperson are off the record and do not begin a formal process. The Ombudsperson does not retain any information that would identify the graduate/ professional student or the graduate/ professional student’s concerns.
The Ombudsperson summarizes the trends and categories of concerns in an annual report by aggregating the data and without revealing any graduate/ professional student’s identity.
How We Operate
How We Operate
The Ombudsperson is a member of the International Ombudsperson Association (IOA). The Ombuds Office operates consistent with the IOA’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice while upholding the university’s core values. Our ethical principles are:
The Ombudsperson does not identify the graduate/ professional student or discuss graduate/ professional student’s concerns. All communications and conversations are held in strict confidence. The Ombudsperson may disclose confidential information only when the graduate/ professional student gives permission to do so or when there appears to be imminent risk of harm.
The Ombudsperson is independent in structure, function and appearance to the highest degree possible within the organization.
The Ombudsperson, as a designated neutral, does not advocate for any party or take sides in any disputes. The Ombudsperson advocates for fair processes, considers the rights and interests of all parties.
The Ombudsperson is an informal resource. The Ombudsperson does not participate in any formal investigations or formal process of any kind. Contacting the Ombudsperson does not provide notice to the university.
Confidential | Independent | Impartial | Informal
Meet the Ombudsperson
Meet the Ombudsperson for Graduate and Professional Students
Funda Sahin, Ph.D.
Dr. Funda Sahin is an Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management at the University of Houston. Prior to joining the University of Houston, she worked at the University of Tennessee. She earned her Ph.D. in operations and supply chain management from the Mays Business School, Texas A&M University. She also holds an MBA degree from Texas A&M University and BA in accounting and finance from Marmara University in Turkey.
Her teaching and research interests are in operations and supply chain management. Her research publications appeared in leading operations and supply chain management journals. She also co-authored book chapters. She is a Past President of Decision Sciences Institute (DSI) and a Vice-President of the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS). She teaches at the undergraduate, graduate (masters and doctoral) and executive levels.
Dr. Sahin is passionate about the University of Houston community and student well-being. Over her career, she worked with graduate students in a wide variety of roles ranging from teaching graduate courses, directing graduate student research, coordinating the Bauer Supply Chain Management Doctoral Program, serving on numerous committees related to graduate student education, and graduate student policies to mentorship. The knowledge and experiences she accumulated over the years through these interactions helped her better understand the concerns and difficulties that graduate students may endure. These insights assist her in her Ombudsperson for Graduate and Professional Students role.
Contact the Ombudsperson
Prior to contacting the Ombudsperson, it would be useful to review the resources available for graduate students to see if there are answers to your questions.
To schedule an appointment, please contact the Ombudsperson, Dr. Funda Sahin.
In your email, please indicate your request to meet. Please do not include any confidential information or anything related to your concerns to ensure confidentiality. The Ombudsperson will respond to your email within 24 hours.
All visits will be conducted virtually over Zoom or another online platform. During the visit, the Ombudsperson will briefly explain the Ombudsperson’s role and what you should expect from the visit. During the remainder of the time, you will be able to discuss your concerns. After listening to you, the Ombudsperson will assist you in exploring options and/or identifying resources to resolve the issues.
Resources for Students
Resources for Graduate and Professional Students
Academic & Enrollment Resources
Health and Wellness
Housing, Parking and Transportation
Other Useful Links