Ombuds Office

The Ombuds Office is a resource for helping members of our community resolve disputes.

The Ombuds Office serves as an independent, confidential, neutral, and informal resource for faculty, staff, and in specific instances, student members of the Wellesley College community. 

The office assists in navigating workplace and living/learning community disputes and provides off-the-record guidance about policies, procedures, challenging issues, and difficult conversations.

The ombudsperson will listen carefully and work with individuals to clarify interests and goals, strategize about handling problematic situations, provide information about College policy, and assist with both written and verbal communication. She is also able to facilitate conversations. In all situations, she will seek processes and resolutions that are equitable to all parties.

If the parties request that a conversation be facilitated or a matter be mediated, with a goal of reaching an agreed-upon solution with the assistance of a neutral person, the ombudsperson can serve in that capacity. Additionally, the ombudsperson can provide mediation training to groups and committees on campus.

The Ombuds Office will not identify its visitors or discuss identified concerns with anyone without the visitors’ permission, with two exceptions:

  1. If the ombudsperson determines that there is an imminent risk of serious harm to a visitor or another person.
  2. If the ombudsperson is legally compelled to do so via subpoena; then, and only then, will the matter not remain confidential.

The office abides by the Standards of Practice of the International Ombuds Association.

Please note that the Ombuds Office is not a substitute or alternative office for reports of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, which should be reported to the Title IX office: Janet Elie Faulkner at or 781-283-2451, Schneider Center 214. Also, this office is not a reporting authority and therefore is not considered “on notice” for purposes of reporting harassment, research misconduct, or any other allegations of legal and/or policy breaches. 

The Ombudsperson at Wellesley College

Kathryn Bender serves as the ombudsperson for the College. A graduate of Meredith College, Columbia University, and Suffolk Law School, she has a deep understanding of dispute resolution in the college setting for all sectors of the campus. Kathryn has taught at the undergraduate, MBA, and law school levels, worked in student affairs, and served as in-house counsel at private and public universities. She currently heads her own dispute resolution consulting firm, which focuses on issues of conflict at colleges and universities.

Contact the Ombudsperson

Kathryn can be reached at or 781.283.3385. Her office is in Clapp Library, Room 301. She is generally available to meet with community members on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, or by appointment. Kathryn is available to speak to groups, classes, and others about any issue related to dispute resolution, communication, consensus building, and collaboration including offering training in meditation and dispute resolution skills.

WC Ombuds Blog

Responding to Sexual Harassment