School Ombudspersons

The Ombudsperson assists graduate students and postdocs with resolving conflicts and issues that arise in the course of their education and training that they believe have not or cannot be addressed within their academic department. The Ombudsperson can help mediate conflicts and provides information about institutional policies related to the student’s issues, including the University’s grievance procedures. The Ombudsperson directs students and postdocs to further resources on campus as appropriate.

Jump to listing of ombudspersons by school »

The roles of the Ombudsperson:

  • Listen to graduate student/postdoc concerns.
  • Explain university and school policies.
  • Explain the grade appeal process.
  • Act as a neutral resource between graduate student/postdoc and a faculty member or an individual with whom the student is experiencing an academic conflict.
  • Facilitate communication between and among individuals.
  • Counsel faculty to minimize potential conflict.
  • Coach graduate students/postdocs on how to talk to faculty and staff.
  • Refer individuals to others as appropriate.
  • Act as an informal resource to graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and staff.
  • Keep information confidential except as required by law or university policy, which includes Title IX issues.  
  • Work with graduate students/postdocs from another school if a graduate student/postdoc wants to talk to an ombudsperson from a different school. In these situations, the graduate student/postdoc should realize that the ombudsperson will not be familiar with their school/program policies.


The Ombudsperson does not:

  • Change grades.
  • Change policies.
  • Take sides, but rather tries to facilitate a mutual understanding between differing points of view.
  • Identify individuals without permission, except as required by law or university policy, which includes Title IX issues.  
  • Take part in formal grievance processes.

Learn more about the Ombudsperson in this video overview.

Ombudspersons by School

Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Philippa Carter
Director of Diversity Initiatives and Academic Affairs
Learn more about the Dietrich School Graduate Studies ombudsperson »

Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business
Jim Craft
Professor Emeritus of Business Administration and of Economics

Graduate School of Public Health
Mary Derkach
Assistant Dean, Student Affairs

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Renee Kidney
Assistant Director of Student Services
Learn more about the GSPIA ombudsperson »
 
School of Computing and Information
Wesley Lipschultz
Director of Student Services

School of Dental Medicine
Jennifer Thompson
Student Services Administrator
 
School of Education
Laura Roop
Faculty in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Leading
Director of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Kellie Beach
Director of Student Services
Learn more about the SHRS ombudsperson »

School of Law
Jamey Mentzer
Assistant Director, JD Advantage Careers
Learn more about Pitt Law's ombudsperson »

School of Medicine
Daniel C. Devor
Professor, Department of Cell Biology
 
School of Nursing
Jennifer Brunner
Director of Advisement

School of Pharmacy
Maggie Folan
Director of the Graduate Program in Pharmaceutical Science

School of Social Work
Jessalynn Oliver
Admissions and Financial Aid Coordinator
 
Swanson School of Engineering
Cheryl Paul
Director, Student Services