Columbia People: Mary Dooley, Senior Administrative Coordinator, Department of Public Safety

Maintaining Public Safety’s files, keeping attendance records and scheduling conferences are just part of Mary Dooley’s job.

Georgette Jasen
Photo by Eileen Barroso
April 19, 2014

WHO SHE IS: Senior Administrative Coordinator, Department of Public Safety.


WHAT SHE DOES: Dooley compiles and distributes daily reports of incidents across the University, such as falls, motor vehicle accidents, fires and theft; she helps Vice President for Public Safety James F. McShane with required record-keeping and communicates with law enforcement officials on a daily basis; and assists in coordinating the emergency management operations team’s “tabletop drills,” when the group develops and discusses a response to a hypothetical emergency. Last year Dooley graduated from the New York Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy, a 14-week program that provides training in the legal, social and procedural aspects of policing. When there is an accident or a weather event or a prominent visitor, Dooley mobilizes the staff and makes sure everyone is where he or she is supposed to be. “It’s hard to describe a typical day,” she says. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

BEST PART OF THE JOB: “The people that I work with and the service that we provide to the University,” she says. Dooley proudly shares a portion of her latest performance review, in which McShane wrote, “Your willingness to extend your efforts to a variety of diverse issues is a testament to your commitment to this organization… On a daily basis, you bring credit to our department.”

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS: During most big campus events, Dooley’s post is at the department’s operations desk in Low Library, but when presidential candidates Barack Obama (CC’83) and John McCain came to Columbia in 2008 for the “ServiceNation Presidential Candidates Forum,” she was right in the middle of things. “It was exciting to be part of that,” says Dooley, who recalls being in Lerner Hall with dozens of New York police and Secret Service officers.

ROAD TO HER CURRENT POSITION: Dooley was working in Boston for a real estate management firm in 1984, when she came to New York to visit her sister, Meg Dooley LaVigne, who was then managing editor of Columbia Magazine. At her sister’s urging, Dooley took her resume to the University employment office, had a typing test, and was sent on several interviews. She was hired by the admissions office to operate an IBM machine that used magnetic cards to generate admissions and rejection letters. “Everything was paper in those days. It was quite a process,” she recalls. In 1991, she joined the office of the Dean of Students, supervising the administrative staff that maintained Columbia College student records. From 1997 until she took her current job in 2005, Dooley worked for the College’s Associate Dean for Administration and Finance.

IN HER SPARE TIME: Dooley is renovating the house built by her father in Marshfield, Mass., where she grew up. Her grandparents had a house nearby and family members still live in neighboring homes. “We call it the Dooley family compound,” she says. “It has a lot of history in my family.”