The Ombuds Officers are confidential and neutral complaint-handlers, serving all campuses - who seek fair and equitable solutions to various problems through informal processes. The Ombuds Office is available to the entire Columbia University community: students, faculty, and employees.


The Ombuds Officers will not report the names of visitors to the office and will not act without permission, except in cases of imminent risk of serious harm. The Ombuds Officers keep no records of specific complaints or individuals.


The Ombuds Officers report directly to the President, not to any administrative office. The Ombuds Officers do not take sides and will not testify; the Ombuds Officers have no decision-making power and do not arbitrate or adjudicate.

Informal Process

The visitor to the Ombuds Office can confidentially voice his/her concerns, evaluate the situation, and plan a particular course of action - if any. The Ombuds Officers will listen, offer information about Columbia University policies and procedures, and present a range of options for resolving a problem. The visitor selects the option he or she prefers.

The Ombuds Officers also provide referrals to sources of expertise or decision-making on particular issues or procedures. With permission, the Ombuds Officers may conduct an informal and impartial investigation, facilitate communication, use shuttle diplomacy, or mediate a dispute.

Promoting Constructive Change

The Ombuds Officers keep aggregate anonymous statistics of the types of complaints received by the office and - while maintaining individuals’ confidentiality - may periodically report problem areas to senior administrators and offer recommendations for institutional improvements as appropriate.


University Ombuds Officer:
Joan C. Waters


Associate University Ombuds Officer: 
Michael Steinberg


Columbia University Medical Center Campus
 154 Haven Avenue, Room 412
Phone: (212) 304-7026

Morningside Campus
Location: 660 Schermerhorn, Mail Code 5558
Phone: (212) 854-1234
Fax: (212) 854-6046