Office of the Ombuds

Confidential. Impartial. Informal. Independent.

The Office of the Ombuds is a confidential resource for all employees of Colorado State University who voluntarily seek help in resolving concerns and conflicts related to the workplace.

Please be aware that the Office of the Ombuds will be working remotely for the time being to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and guard the well-being of staff and our campus community. We are conducting business remotely and will continue to promptly respond to all inquiries. Meetings will be scheduled to take place through phone call or video conferencing at a time that is convenient for you. Being mindful that phone or Zoom might not be an option for you because of a disability, technological limitation, or similar challenge, let us know and we will find a way to accommodate the situation.

If you need to contact the University Ombuds, Melissa Emerson, please email or leave a confidential voicemail at (970) 491-1527.

For the Faculty Ombuds, Dr. Kathy Rickard, please email or leave a confidential voicemail at (970) 491-5121.

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What the Ombuds Does

  • Listens and discusses questions, issues and concerns
  • Helps identify a range of options to address concerns
  • Answers questions or helps find others who can
  • Explains CSU policies and procedures
  • Facilitates communication between people
  • Mediates disputes to seek mutually satisfactory resolution of problems
  • Identifies trends or systemic problems to administrators with recommendations for institutional improvements

What the Ombuds Does Not

  • Participate in formal grievance processes
  • Make administrative decisions
  • Determine “guilt” or “innocence” of those accused of wrong-doing
  • Assign sanctions to individuals or participate in disciplinary process
  • Receive official “notice” for the university
  • Give legal advice
  • Offer psychological advice
  • Keep records on behalf of the institution
  • Advocate for any individual or entity however will advocate for fair processes

Common Topics

Challenging relationships
Difficult conversations
Incivility in the workplace
Cultural misunderstandings
Understanding policies and procedures
Health, safety and wellness
Miscommunication between colleagues

The Ombuds is committed to these four principles

  • Confidentiality – The Ombuds holds information in confidence and does not disclose communication unless given permission by the employee, in the event of risk or harm, or as required by law.
  • Neutrality – The Ombuds remains unaligned and impartial and does not advocate for any individual or entity.
  • Informality – As an informal resource, the Ombuds does not participate in any formal process related to concerns brought to the office’s attention.
  • Independence – The Ombuds is independent in structure, function and appearance and does not report on cases to any administrator of the University except as aggregate data that protects the visitor.

To learn more, visit our professional association at

The Ombuds office does not replace or supercede university grievances, complaint or appeal procedures. Further, as a confidential campus resource, the Ombuds Office is neither a “responsible employee” in relation to sexual harassment/misconduct nor authorized to serve as a “campus security authority” for purposes of reporting crimes on campus.

For a complete list of campus-wide resources for employees, go to our list of Employee Resources for Conflict Resolution.

For Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services, please visit the EAP website. For a list of community resources, please visit the CARE website.

*Students seeking conflict resolution assistance can visit the Student Resolution Center at