Announcing the Office of the Ombuds

Conchita Franco Serri has been appointed as the first University Ombuds, and is available to members of the SMU community to offer impartial advice with the goal of helping to solve problems and resolve disputes.

Conchita was introduced to the community at the latest Town Hall by President Sharon Diaz and Executive Director of Human Resources Elaine Lemay.

The University identified the need for an ombuds office as result of its commitment to create a more fair and inclusive community.  The perspectives and opinions of faculty, students and staff on their experiences of work or study suggested that employees and students would benefit from having a person in this role. Effective immediately, Conchita is available to staff, faculty and students for confidential conversations about issues of concern.  Her role is to be a neutral and informal listener and mediator. 

In her role as Ombuds, Conchita will not be an advocate or counselor, nor can she make or influence decisions. She is not an SMU employee and is independent of the University and its administration.

“My contribution will be to help facilitate comfortable and confidential conversations for helping people think through something that is troubling them about the workplace or academic environment,” Conchita explained. “The goal of this position is to encourage meaningful dialogue to help people devise options for solutions to their concerns.”

Conchita received her master’s in Education from Harvard and a law degree from Boston College Law School. She is the principal of Serri Ombuds Solutions LLC and has worked with such institutions as Stanford University Medical Center, Pomona College and Santa Clara University. For Samuel Merritt University, Ms. Serri is a part-time contractor providing remote and occasional on-campus services.

To arrange a time to talk with Conchita, contact her by telephone at 650-209-0646 (Skype or other modalities also available), or email her at She will be available once a month on the Oakland campus for pre-scheduled in-person conversations.

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