Office of Student Affairs

At the Mailman School, educational experiences take place both in and out of the classroom. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) offers volunteer opportunities, social and alumni networking, personal advising, and more to ensure students receive a robust and well-rounded training on the path to fulfilling public health careers. Our mission is to lead a portfolio of comprehensive educational services for students that reflects the aspirations of the Mailman School. We support the School’s values through student services and financial assistance and in the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body. We also contribute to the education of our students through co-curricular learning tools and programs which enhance opportunities while at Mailman as well as the careers which follow.

Under the direction of Dr. Marlyn Delva, dean of Students and associate dean of Student Affairs, OSA oversees a wide range of student services from pre-admission and throughout your academic career, to graduation and beyond.

The Offices of OSA are made up of:

  • Admissions is committed to recruiting the most qualified, diverse set of applicants for the Mailman School, and providing those applicants with a seamless application experience. Staff is available to answer questions about life as a Mailman School student, and connect you with academic departments and current students for a deeper glimpse into life on campus.

  • Financial Aid can help you identify sources of financial support. Financial aid packages may consist of a combination of institutional funds, scholarships, loans, and student employment opportunities. Staff also provides guidance on loan certification, loan counseling, and debt management.

  • Student Academic Affairs provides guidance on registration, program transfers, graduation clearance, and other academic needs.

  • Student Life offers a diverse array of co-curricular activities to enrich your time at the School, and provides support for students experiencing hardship.


Dean of Students and Administrative Staff

Marlyn Delva, Associate Dean and Dean of Students
Dr. Delva is a social epidemiologist and health educator with a faculty appointment in the department of Epidemiology in addition to her role as the head of the Office of Student Affairs. Her research focuses on the immigrant experience and its impact on health. As Dean of Students, she oversees an office of 18 professionals who manage the operations of student services ranging from admissions to graduation. She also develops co-curricular programs to enhance the student experience. On the leadership team, Dr. Delva is intimately involved in the organization of student field practice, where she leads two placement sites focusing on an interdisciplinary approach to public health in the Dominican Republic and France; leadership development, and the introduction of cultural awareness programming to the student experience and curriculum. She also plays a significant role in the educational initiatives at the School, including teaching in the Core MPH program.

She received her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University in Psychology and Education and her MA in Higher Education Administration from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.  Dr. Delva holds a doctorate in Health and Behavioral Studies from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

Cynthia Powell, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, OSA

Cynthia Powell, Director of Finance and Administration
Since joining the Mailman School of Public Health in 1990, Cynthia has held several positions at the School. She currently oversees the administrative team in the Office of Student Affairs and consults with the Associate Dean of Student Affairs. Cynthia provides guidance and training to all departmental administrators within the Office of Education and she supports students in processing travel grants and event reimbursements. 

Estela Valerio, Administrative Coordinator, Office Operations
Estela works directly with the Dean of Students, providing scheduling and travel support throughout the year. She also plays an important financial role in the office by working with new vendors, tracking and processing invoices, and handling expense reports. Estela organizes and maintains files and personnel records for the Executive Suite. She joined the Mailman School of Public Health in 2015. 


Student Academic Affairs and Student Life

Eric Ratner, Director of Student Affairs
Eric oversees a student’s life-cycle from matriculation through graduation, including academic affairs, student support, and student life. He ensures academic standards and policies are maintained as per student handbooks and accrediting bodies’ requirements; supports students through life circumstances, connects them to resources; and encourages participation in co-curricular opportunities. Eric received a BA in Human Development from the University of California, San Diego and an MS in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University, Bloomington. He previously worked at American University, The George Washington University and at St. John's University where he was the Assistant Director of Student Conduct. Eric joined the Mailman School in 2013.

Lillian Morales, Associate Director of Academic Records and Standards
Lillian joined the Office of Student Affairs in October 1990 and in over two decades she has reviewed and cleared more than 10,000 students for graduation. Lillian serves as liaison with the Office of Disability Services, MSPH Department Coordinators and Registrar and Financial Services. She is responsible for the daily processes of the Office of Student Affairs, which include assisting faculty and staff, running reports, registering students and replying to inquiries. Additionally, Lillian prepares the schedule of tuition and fees and verifies student eligibility for the National Board of Public Health Examiners credentialing examination. Lillian completed the Executive Secretary program with the Katherine Gibbs School in 1978 and in 2008 she was the recipient of the Staff Award for Excellence.


Office of Student Affairs, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Sarah J. Tooley, Associate Director of Student Support
Sarah provides support by assisting with problem-solving, accommodations, resource referrals, and advocacy for students. She also assists with academic advising, leaves of absence, policy development, and training. A licensed social worker with experience in higher education, professional training, and child welfare, Sarah earned her BA in Intercultural Studies from Houghton College and her MSW from Roberts Wesleyan College and gained experience working as an admissions counselor with international students, students in military families. Prior to her arrival to Mailman, Sarah provided student support in a similar position at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC. 

Carlos Correa, Assistant Director of Student Affairs
A higher education professional, Carlos has served with the Office of Student Affairs for 4 years. Primarily focused on student support and success, he works with school and campus partners to ensure a positive experience for students with their academic and personal goals. Students may visit with Carlos in matters pertaining to their degree progression, registration, tuition, course and time management, stress, as well as questions pertaining to admissions. Carlos assists with some of the major programming efforts including orientation, graduation, commencement, degree clearance, the Mailman Ambassador Program, Student Travel Fund, co-curricular programming including student groups, Transmission Action, as well as management, maintenance, and analysis of both student and application data.


Mailman School of Public Health, Christina Ferrari, Student Affairs

Christina M. Ferrari, Assistant Director of Student Life 
With a background in student leadership development and engagement, Christina oversees all student organizations, the Graduate Student Association, leadership development initiatives, civic engagement and large-scale co-curricular programs that create a vibrant student experience and an inclusive Mailman community. Prior to joining Columbia, Christina held positions at SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and Valparaiso University in Indiana. Passionate about the role of an advocate and educator in student affairs, she received her M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Loyola University Chicago and her BA in English from DePaul University. 




Clare Norton, Associate Dean for Enrollment Management

As Associate Dean, Clare provides leadership, strategic direction, management and oversight for all activities related to recruitment, admissions and financial aid. She is passionate about leading institutions in ways that promote equity and address disparities. Prior to joining Columbia, Clare served as the University Executive Director for Enrollment Strategy and Management at CUNY. Over 13 years, she held a variety of administrative positions including Coordinator of College Now at Hunter College and University Director of Admission. There, she contributed to increasing diversity, growing enrollment, and improving graduation rates.

Earlier in her career, Clare held leadership positions at Salomon Smith Barney/Citigroup Corporate Investment Bank. 

Clare earned her Masters of Science in Education with a concentration in Higher Education Administration from Baruch College.  She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

Julie Vann, Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid
In her position, Julie manages operations of Admissions and assists with Financial Aid. She provides and maintains technical expertise on SOPHAS, HAMPCAS, SIS, Slate and PowerFaids while also establishing and upholding relationships with CUMC IT. Julie provides training and support internally and to outside departments in an effort to develop and provide data that support the School’s mission and ensure a seamless application process. Julie joined the Mailman School in 1995 and in 2009 she received the Staff Award for Excellence. 

Mailman School of Public Health, Charles Lirano, Student Affairs

Charles Liriano, Financial Aid Officer
As a Financial Aid Officer, Charles manages the day-to-day operations of the Financial Aid Office, including new-year setup, annual reports and budgeting. He also provides counseling services to prospective, newly admitted and continuing students. Charles processes merit and need based aid, federal loans, and departmental tuition and stipend payments and presents workshops on financial literacy, loan repayment, debt management and federal work-study. He attends recruitment events, presents at admissions information sessions and meets with prospective students. Charles received a BA in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and he completed his MA in Psychology and Education from Teachers College at Columbia University in 2016. Charles joined the Mailman School in 2004.

Mailman School of Public Health, Eric Halperin, Student Affairs

Eric Halperin, Financial Aid Officer
Eric encompasses all elements of financial aid, which includes reviewing students for institutional awards and federal aid; packaging awards, ensuring funds are deposited into students’ accounts, stipends, and expediting refunds. He is always available for students who wish to discuss their current financial aid packages or repayment after graduation. Eric began his career in financial aid while living in Japan and, as a former coordinator for Military & Veterans Affairs, he is the School’s primary contact for veteran-related issues. Eric received his BA in English from the University of Maryland in Asia and a Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He has been with Columbia since March 2011.  

Kristina Onishchuck, Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment
Kristina recruits a strong and diverse graduate student body. With customer service as a focal point, Kristina ensures that prospective students thoroughly understand the admissions requirements and that their interests align with the fit of their selected program. In her previous role at Baruch College’s Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, she served as a Graduate Admissions Coordinator. Kristina earned her BA in Legal Studies and English from the University at Buffalo and her MSEd in Higher Education Administration from Baruch College before joining the Mailman School in 2017.

Elizabeth Francese, Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment
In her role, Elizabeth researches key markets for prospective students and establishes a stratgeic plan to target and engage prospective students. Throughout the recruitment cycle, she also hosts conversations with students to discuss their academic options and provides assistance throughout the application process. Serving as a liaison between prospective students and their chosen academic program, Elizabeth assists students by arranging faculty meetings, and campus tours. Elizabeth received her BA in English from Montclair State University in 2011 and she joined Columbia in 2017. 

Mahoghanie Washington, Admissions Coordinator
Mahoganie works directly with the Associate Dean for Enrollment Management, providing scheduling and travel support throughout the year. She focuses on effective and efficient processing of prospective students, applicants and current students on behalf of the admissions and financial aid teams. Mahoganie manages the configurations for WebAdmit, Non-degree, ReAdmit, BEST and CSRI applications as well as processing data for SIS, PowerFaids and Slate while maintaining accurate records of all applications. She also plans and executes events in addition to training and supervising work study students and summer youth employees.