College employee to hear staff grievances

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March 25, 2008

3:45 AM

The first ombudsperson at the College will soon start work.
Tatia Daniels Granger was given the new position, which was created in the hopes of addressing hourly and staff employee concerns. She will provide confidential, unbiased and informal resources to employees.

p. Granger began her tenure in January but spent the first few months setting up procedures and policies for the office. The post is part time, and she will work three days a week.

p. Provost Geoffrey Feiss said that the position is the result of former College President Gene Nichol’s desire to make sure that all employees of the College are able to get access to conflict resolution in an unthreatening way.

p. “We view this [role] very much in the realm of the issue of staff morale,” Feiss said.

p. He also stated that he had no knowledge of any specific employee issue or incident that that led to the creation of the post.
During Nichol’s time in office, he would regularly meet with members of the organization Hourly and Classified Employees. HACE members asked if he would consider establishing a position to effectively deal with any issues employees might have in a way that could be arbitrated and not be confrontational.

p. Nichol then asked Feiss to search for a suitable candidate last fall. Feiss then thought of Granger — who has worked in higher education for over 20 years and has a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Virginia — to fill the position of ombudsperson. Granger is also the wife of Earl Granger, the vice provost of enrollment at the College.

p. Granger became involved in training at the national level for ombudspersons and also went to meetings with supervisory personnel across campus so they would understand what her role will be.

p. Her position is independent of other administrative departments on campus and she reports directly to the provost.

p. According to an article published by William and Mary News, Granger will listen to employee concerns and then help identify potential resolutions by researching institutional policies and procedures, gathering information and informally investigating issues. She will also make arrangements for mediation, provide advice and make referrals to other offices.
However, she will not guarantee solutions, give legal advice or offer psychological counseling. Neither will she conduct formal investigations, determine innocence or guilt or chose sides in any dispute.
“I’m really [helping to] empower the employee to handle the situation on his or her own terms to the best of their ability, not listening and saying, ‘Oh, I’ll fix that for you,’ or ‘I’ll take care of that for you,” Granger said, according to William and Mary News.
Feiss hopes that giving Granger the new position will create a sense of community for the College and that all employees will feel their opinions can be heard without the possibility of retribution.
“It should make them feel they could go to someone fairly high up in the system who could help them resolve their difficulties. We’re very much trying to build a stronger sense of community,” he said.
Granger agreed, saying that her ultimate goal is, “to create an environment where a greater percentage of people are happy in their work.”

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