After about six months on the job, UND's ombudsman, Henok Elias, is no longer with the university in a move made to re-evaluate that position.
Elias was let go from UND last week after his six-month probationary period expired, said Peter Johnson, a university spokesman. Now, school officials will look to tailor the position to what best fits its needs.
"This is something we've been experimenting with," Johnson said. "It was a new position for us and we're still toying with the right approach and the right mix."
Elias was a probationary employee for six months, meaning his status at the university was to be re-evaluated after that six months was over. It was after that time period the university chose to let Elias go and take another look at the ombuds position, Johnson said.
"Initially they thought this was the way to go, and maybe it still is, but before we cement something in, we want to make sure it's the right thing to cement in," Johnson said.
Provost Thomas DiLorenzo and the Ombuds Advisory Committee will review future options for providing this service on UND's campus. Those options could include rehiring an ombuds, providing that service through another channel at UND or contracting it to an outside service, among others, Johnson said.
"We're committed to finding some sort of specific function that people can go to, but the question is, what is that best route?" Johnson said.
The ombuds position, a gender-neutral term for the more common title of "ombudsman," is hired to be a neutral dispute mediator, Johnson said.
The position was created on a part-time basis in 2013 and was made permanent in 2014 by then-UND President Robert Kelley after he deemed it successful. Dusty Bates Farned held the job until September 2014, and it was at about that time the position became permanent.
A replacement for that job was originally hired in May 2015, but backed out. Elias was hired about six months later and began work at the university in January.
Elias was set to make $75,000 annually, excluding benefits, according to pervious Herald reporting.
Previously, he had worked as an ombudsman and mediator for the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs and as a mediator for a department of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
While the position is open, the campus community can still take different approaches to resolving conflicts, such as talking to a supervisor, talking to human resources personnel or discussing the issue with somebody else on campus, Johnson said.
UND also offers an employee assistance program, which is a contracted service, for students, faculty or staff, or anyone with concerns can speak with somebody outside the university about problems.
"We're still trying to figure out exactly what's the best fit for the university in terms of how to provide the kinds of services," Johnson said.
The ombudsman opening is not budget-related, Johnson said.