Mauricio “Reese” Ramos, director of the newly created University Ombuds Office at Virginia Tech, began his new job at the beginning of the month.

The new office offers another avenue for faculty, staff, students, and others to express concerns, ask questions, and receive guidance in interactions with the university and other individuals.

“You know how there’s conflict in any healthy institution or organization?” Ramos asked. “It’s the same at Virginia Tech. There’s conflict here, and it’s OK. There are challenges and disagreements. All of that happens. I’d be concerned if it didn’t; that’s the only way we have breakthroughs. The University Ombuds Office specifically has the responsibility of helping people navigate through those conflicts and challenges. We help people identify options, explore strategies and techniques, and then let them decide if there’s anything they want to do about the situation.”

Ramos’ office is temporarily located at 381 Steger Hall and is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Recognizing that not everyone works a traditional schedule, Ramos is able to accommodate appointments outside these hours by request. To schedule an appointment, call him at 540-231-3125 or email reeseramos@vt.edu. Please do not include confidential details in an email.

The office will serve those who may encounter difficulties in the scope of their interactions with the university; facilitate communication and the resolution of conflicts; advocate for fairness in processes and a healthy campus climate; and assist all persons seeking support in reaching mutually acceptable resolutions that are consistent with the ideals and objectives of the university. The office can handle everything from concerns about interactions with another student or employee to a desire to see university leadership more directly address a particular issue.

“When individuals come in, I ask three questions,” said Ramos. “What happened? What do you want to see happen? And then, how do you think I can help?”

Ramos is building and leading the office in keeping with the International Ombudsman Association’s principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality, confidentiality, and informality. The University Ombuds Office’s mission is two-fold, Ramos said: First, to help individuals with their immediate situations, and second, to give upward feedback to university leadership.

“We’re not fact-finders, but I might be able to go to President [Tim] Sands and say, ‘I’ve been here six months, and a recurring constant theme is X, Y, or Z,’” Ramos said. “That might be useful in validating what other people are seeing, or getting a process started. There is that opportunity to promote evolution, change, and progress at the systemic level.”

This fall the office will move to a permanent location on North Main Street in Blacksburg, near its intersection with Alumni Mall.

Ramos encourages Hokies not to hesitate to contact him, no matter the issue. 

— Written by Mason Adams