Dispute Resolution System Successful in Georgia
Institutions of higher education inevitably see their share of interpersonal and interdepartmental conflicts. In the University System of Georgia, such conflicts are increasingly handled by an alternative dispute resolution system that emphasizes mediation and negotiation.
"The purpose of mediation is to reach common interests so that the dispute diminishes or is resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both parties, eliminating the need for the traditional process of filing grievances and appeals," says Donald Wagner, a professor of political science and chair of the Georgia Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution. "The parties are treated as equals by the mediator, with the understanding that no recrimination or retaliation will follow their discussions," adds Wagner, who says the system makes the university "a better place to work and to be."
The system grew out of a 1995 initiative adopted by the university system's board of regents; in the interest of minimizing lawsuits and resolving disputes quickly, the board encouraged each of the thirty-four institutions in the University System of Georgia to develop a dispute resolution program suitable to its environment and resources. …