Ombudsperson services are available to all students.

Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students may call Dr. John Blackshear in the Academic Resource Center at 919-684-5917.

School of Medicine students and faculty may contact
Dr. Jean Spaulding at 919-668-3326.

Faculty members should contact Dr. Jeffrey Dawson at 919-613-7811.


The Ombudsperson Role

  • Provides a neutral, safe, and private environment to talk
  • Listens to concerns and complaints and discusses appropriate options
  • Helps to evaluate those options
  • Assists students in resolving problems
  • Mediates conflicts, convenes meetings, engages in "shuttle diplomacy"
  • Refers students to appropriate campus resources
  • Provides information about university resources


What the Ombudsperson Does Not Do

  • Adjudicate or participate in formal university grievance processes
  • Determine guilt of any party in a dispute
  • Get involved in any formal litigation or testify in court
  • Provide legal advice
  • Assign sanctions to individuals
  • Replace the function of any official university office, department or process
  • Keep records of students and/or conversations


Examples of Services Provided by an Ombudsperson

  • Helps resolve or mediate a dispute with an individual or group.
  • Helps decide how to approach a person who you think is causing a problem.
  • Discusses how to approach a fellow student who has made an offensive or insensitive comment.
  • Assists when you are uncertain what Duke policies or procedures apply to your situation.
  • Assists when you don't know what individual or university department is appropriate to go to for an answer to a specific question or to obtain a particular service.
  • Helps when you feel as if you have been unfairly treated by anyone on campus.
  • Engages in "shuttle diplomacy" to solve a problem between you and a student/employee.
  • Helps you evaluate and select among a variety of options to address a concern with a fellow student or department
  • Helps resolve or mediate a non-grade- or non-evaluation-related dispute with a faculty member.


About John Blackshear

John Blackshear completed his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Georgia State University. He completed his internship at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky. In addition, he received pre-doctoral training at the University of Kentucky’s Counseling Center.

John’s clinical interests are varied and include the following: stress and coping styles, aggression and violence, multiculturalism and diversity, spirituality and religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, depression, anxiety, alcohol and other drugs abuse/dependence, adjustment-related problems, interpersonal communication and relationship dynamics, adult development, and crises associated with life-stages transition. He enjoys working with individuals, groups, and couples. John is also the Clinical Director of the Academic Resource Center, Duke University.