Section 46. There shall be at the University of Massachusetts at Boston an office of dispute resolution under the supervision and control of a director who shall be appointed by the provost with the approval of the chancellor and concurrence of the board of trustees. The director shall be a person with substantial training and professional experience in dispute resolution, shall maintain complete impartiality with respect to the matters coming before the office of dispute resolution, and shall devote full time to the duties of the office.
The office of dispute resolution shall be available to assist agencies and offices of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the commonwealth, as well as any political subdivision or public instrumentality created by the commonwealth or any county, city, or town, hereafter referred to as public agencies, to improve the resolution of disputes that arise within their respective jurisdictions. The office may: (a) facilitate the resolution of disputes through provision of impartial mediation and other dispute resolution services; (b) establish standards for the selection, assignment, and conduct of persons acting on behalf of the office in the resolution of disputes; (c) conduct educational programs and provide other services designed to reduce the occurrence, scope, complexity, or cost of disputes; (d) design, develop, or operate dispute resolution programs or to assist public agencies to improve or extend their existing dispute resolution programs; and (e) take other action to promote and facilitate dispute resolution by public agencies in the commonwealth. The director may establish reasonable fees to be charged to parties, litigants, or public agencies for the provision of the educational, consultation, dispute resolution, or other services authorized herein and may apply for and accept on behalf of the commonwealth any federal, local, or private grants, bequests, gifts, or contributions to aid in the financing of any of the programs or activities of the office. Fees, grants, bequests, gifts, or contributions shall be received by the University of Massachusetts at Boston and deposited in a separate account and shall be expended, without further appropriation, at the direction of the director, with the approval of the provost, for the cost of operation of the office, including personnel. The office may make agreements with public agencies and officers and may contract with other persons, including private agencies, corporations, or associations, to carry out any of the functions and purposes of this section. The office shall annually prepare a report on the activities of the office, including all income and expenditures, and file the report with the house and senate committees on ways and means on or before December 31.