New ombudsperson program available to assist graduate students

Penn State World Campus graduate students have access to three Penn State faculty members as confidential and neutral resources through the University’s new Graduate Student Ombudsperson Program.

The program was developed by the Graduate Student and Faculty Issues committee of the Graduate Council, with strong support from The Graduate School, in response to a clear need identified by graduate students to have an ombudsperson program dedicated to their needs.

It is available to all Penn State graduate students, including the Penn State World Campus students who are enrolled in the more than 100 graduate degree and certificate programs offered online.

The goal of the Graduate Student Ombudsperson Program is to provide graduate students with a neutral, informal, impartial, and confidential resource to discuss problems and issues, and to raise questions and concerns. The ultimate objective of the program is to enhance communication, identify resources and options, and clarify possible misunderstandings to help settle issues without escalation.

The three inaugural ombudspersons are:

  • Duncan K. H. Fong, professor of marketing, Smeal College of Business, and affiliated professor of statistics, Eberly College of Science;
  • Deb Kerstetter, professor emerita, recreation, park, and tourism management, College of Health and Human Development; and
  • Patrick Lee Plaisance, Don W. Davis Professor in ethics, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, and affiliate faculty, Rock Ethics Institute.

The ombudspersons provide a safe environment for graduate students to discuss issues and concerns. They are committed to help analyze the concern, clarify possible misunderstandings, define and evaluate options, identify and explain relevant University policies, and assist in resolving issues informally. The ombudsperson does not formally advocate for the student or any individual point of view but instead works to promote a fair process for all.

The ombudspersons serve all graduate students at Penn State, and graduate students on any campus are welcome to contact any of the three ombudspersons about any issues related to their graduate education.

Find out more about the Graduate Student Ombudsperson Program on The Graduate School’s website.

Media Contact:Mike