COSAM Champions

Helping our faculty, staff and students

COSAM Champs Logo

What is a short description of the role and responsibilities of a COSAM Champion?

A person with a complaint will approach a COSAM Champion that they feel comfortable dealing with, and describe the problem they are having. After listening to the complaint the Champion will, with the approval of the individual bringing the complaint, bring it to the direct, personal attention of the supervisor, the Dean, an Associate or Assistant Dean, Department Chair, or other appropriate member of the COSAM staff. A common next step would be to have a meeting of the individual with the Dean (etc.), with the Champion present. 

How will folks who have a complaint know how to find a Champion to help them?

A list of Champions is available on the COSAM website. The individual can contact any of the designated Champions, who need not be in the same department or have the same role in the college; e.g., a staff member could approach a faculty member for help, or a graduate student might approach a staff member, etc.

Will this be a lot of work for a Champion?

The program is not intended to create more work than a Champion can reasonably handle. The Dean hopes that there is not a large number of these kinds of problems in COSAM, but when they do occur it is always better to deal with them promptly and not let them fester.

Will Champions get “credit” for doing this?

Yes. For faculty this credit will be in the “service” part of their annual review evaluation. For staff it will be handled in a similar way in their annual performance review. For graduate students we will try to handle it in a similar way.

What kind of complaints will Champions handle?

Any complaint is probably fair game. Problems such as an unfair performance evaluation, a research advisor with unreasonable expectations, a department chair who gives unfair raises or teaching assignments, and a supervisor that asks you to do things that are not in your job description are all problems that might come to a Champion. But if it is very serious (such as a potential sexual harassment or mental health issue) it will likely be appropriate to seek help with the Auburn Title IX office or a professional counselor on campus. The Champions have been given information on who to contact in these kinds of cases, and the Dean is available to help also. 

How will Champions deal with confidentiality issues?

The person with the complaint must always agree to having the Champion take the complaint to a supervisor or other administrator. This might initially be done without giving the individual’s name but it most cases it will be necessary to reveal the name. If there is fear of retaliation, the Champion my want to express this directly to the Dean or some other upper administrator. In such cases, the fact that there is even fear of retaliation is already an indication of a problem that should be addressed.

If an individual is worried about retaliation and is afraid to approach the Dean, should the Champion also be worried about this?

The Champions will themselves have to judge which administrator in COSAM is the best choice to hear about the problem. It is the Dean’s hope that the Champions will feel comfortable with at least several different administrators who could then help with the problem. The fact that a member of COSAM may not feel comfortable taking a problem directly to the Dean is unfortunate but probably a fact of life. The whole purpose of the Champion program is to overcome this barrier.

What is a typical way the Champion might help a person with a complaint?

This will depend on the nature of the complaint and the feelings of the individual. After hearing the complaint, the Champion may suggest a meeting of the individual with whoever is the target of the complaint (typically their supervisor). The Champion would typically volunteer to be present at that meeting as a listener. It would NOT be the Champion’s role to push for a particular outcome or resolution. That must come from the individual and the target of the complaint. However, those two folks may end up asking for suggestions from the Champion. If the problem cannot be resolved in this way, or if the individual prefers, the Champion may, with the individual’s consent, take the complaint immediately to a higher level such as the Department Chair or Dean. Basically, the Champion’s role is to listen and help to open a communication channel that did not previously exist.

Is a Champion expected to deal with all kinds of problems?

No. Some problems that are especially serious will need to be dealt with by other offices and professionals at the university. As part of their training/preparation Champions have a list of these services on campus and are able to help an individual find the appropriate person to help them. The Auburn Ombudsperson, Kevin Coonrod, is another important resource.

I want to be a Champion – what do I do?

If you are interested in serving as a COSAM Champion, please contact the Interim Dean Ed Thomas at 334-844-5737 or via email at