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Announcement Regarding Marsha Wagner, Ombuds Officer

Announcement Regarding Marsha Wagner, Ombuds Officer

October 7, 2013

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

It is not often that we have occasion to honor the service of someone who has held a senior post in University administration for more than two decades as the office’s only occupant and who was herself central to its creation.  Yet that is the case for Marsha Wagner, who is retiring as University Ombuds Officer after twenty-two years.  Since 1991, Marsha has helped thousands of Columbia students, faculty, and staff resolve a myriad of concerns by encouraging them to consider new alternatives or enlist University resources they may not have known existed.  More often than not, those who sought her assistance achieved a resolution without direct intervention from the Ombuds office.  Her vocation has been to help us live and work together as a community more productively and with greater equanimity.

Marsha first arrived at Columbia in 1975 as an Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures and later became director of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library.  Long before becoming Ombuds Officer, she helped bring coeducation to Columbia College.  She also was a leader in developing Columbia’s policy against sexual harassment and successfully advocated for extending employee benefits to same-sex partners.  It is a testament to the progress made under the stewardship of Marsha and other University leaders that these advances now seem perfectly commonplace to many Columbians.

Whether measured by the duration of her service; the number of students, faculty, and staff members she has known and supported; or the fact that each of her children and their spouses holds a Columbia degree, Marsha Wagner has been an exemplary member of the Columbia family.  On behalf of all those at this University whose lives she has touched, I want to thank her and wish her all the best as she embarks on this next chapter of her life.


Lee C. Bollinger