The University of Southern Mississippi is in the process of launching
the first full mediation program among Mississippi universities
for the purpose of offering its employees the chance to work through
conflicts, challenges and concerns without having to access formal
the common term used to describe the process of alternative dispute
resolution, which allows people the option to address concerns in
a non-administrative setting. Normally, the process involves two
people wishing to work through a problem, and a neutral third party,
Miss employees and members of the greater Hattiesburg community
are poised to serve on the Southern Miss Employee Mediator Team,
which will be fully functional by the end of the fall semester.
Conville, a professor of Speech Communication and member of the
team, said that he is looking forward to taking part in the process.
those with disputes in achieving a meeting of the minds would be
most gratifying personally and would contribute to a climate of
collaboration in the university," Conville said. "With
a mediation program in place, staff and faculty have many more options
beyond the standard ones: stay mad, leave, or file a grievance.
a well-managed mediation process, many other alternatives appear
that the disputing parties had never thought of, as a result of
the good-faith dialogue."
members of the mediation team, Conville is anticipating a round
of mediation training in October, which will be followed by a series
of "mock" mediation sessions to allow the mediators to
polish their skills.
who works in Food Services at Southern Miss, will also serve on
the Mediation Team.
looking forward to offering our employees a way to enhance their
jobs by alleviating stress," Busche said. "This program
is a positive way to offer the campus community the opportunity
to work through challenges and concerns, hopefully coming together
as a better organization. It will open up lines of communication
and the date the Mediation Team gets up and running, the university
has access to a number of trained mediators it can call in from
outside should the need arise, according to Rebecca Woodrick, who
chairs the Southern Miss Mediation Advisory Board, the group that
has guided the process of putting a full-fledged mediator team in
began in November 2000, when Southern Miss tried out a one-year
pilot program to gauge the potential effectiveness of such a service
to its employees. Reaction to the process was positive, so plans
to put a full-time team in place to facilitate employee mediation
Among the steps
along the way has been the choosing of mediators, something that
was done through an extensive outreach process involving university
employees at every level, as well as members of the Hattiesburg
the Advisory Board was looking for people who were perceived by
their peers as being trustworthy and having good common sense, Woodrick
said. By the time the search for mediators had concluded, Southern
Miss had 70 candidates to fill slots on the planned 30-member Mediation
Now that the
30-member team has been selected, its members await the October
training session. That session will be taught at Southern Miss by
Dr. William Wilmot, a practicing mediator, facilitator and communication
consultant, as well as the founding director of Collaboration Institute
and a senior associate of the Yarbrough Group, a well-known consulting
firm located in Boulder, Colo.
Once the Southern
Miss Mediation Team is fully in place, its primary function will
be to offer the option of mediation to Southern Miss employees.
said, "We see this as a service that can ultimately be extended
to the larger Hattiesburg community."
of the Mediation Team, Southern Miss Grants Adminstrator Howard
Fromkin, said that the new mediation effort should prove highly
effective, largely due to the make-up of the Mediation Team.
that the combination of staff, faculty and community members can
produce a powerful, effective, and peaceful method of conflict resolution,"