Message to Our Community

September 18, 2023

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

As you may know, Ella Mills, a student of ours at Columbia’s School of General Studies, died tragically in a kayaking accident on a trip with the Columbia University Whitewater Kayaking Club. Words cannot express how heartbroken I feel for her family, her friends, her loved ones, and those students from the University who were with her on this trip.

Lisa Rosen-Metsch wrote the following note to her community earlier today which includes reflections about Ella and information about resources available for those who need them. On behalf of the entire University, I extend my deepest condolences.


Minouche Shafik


Dear GS Students,
I am heartbroken to inform you of the loss of a member of our Columbia GS community, Ella Mills, who died in a kayaking accident on the Potomac River near Washington D.C. while on a trip with the Columbia University Whitewater Kayaking Club.
Originally from Dublin, Ella was just beginning her journey at Columbia University as a third-year student in our Dual BA Program with Trinity College Dublin. She arrived in New York earlier this month to begin her studies at Columbia, having completed her English Studies coursework in Dublin. Ella had a love for learning, was intellectually curious, and passionate about literature—eager to soak in new ways of looking at literature and viewing the world as a literary scholar. She was an active member of the Trinity College Dublin community as part of the Trinity College Dublin drama society, the DU Players, the Trinity College Dublin Tennis Club, and the Philosophical Society, among many others. She is survived by her loving parents, brother, and sister. Our thoughts and compassion are with them at this very difficult time.
We will be hosting a community reflection this evening from 5-7 p.m. in the Peter J. Awn GS Student Lounge in Lewisohn Hall (3rd floor), for all students and members of our community who wish to attend. We will have members of the GS Wellbeing Team and Columbia Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) present to provide support as needed. They will also be available tomorrow from 2-4 p.m. in 408 Lewisohn Hall for support and reflection. Additionally, the GS Wellbeing team will be available all day today for walk-in appointments in 403 Lewisohn Hall.
To our GS community - we are grieving with you and holding Ella and her family and friends in our thoughts and hearts. Our entire staff at Columbia GS, as well as our colleagues throughout the campus, are available to offer continued support to you. I have listed contact information and additional resources below.
With deepest sorrow,
Lisa Rosen-Metsch
Dean and Professor
The GS Wellbeing Team
The Wellbeing team is available all day for walk-in appointments in 403 Lewisohn Hall, to offer support and guidance. They can also be contacted at [email protected].
Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS)
CPS provides 24/7 phone support available through on-call service, which is accessed by calling (212) 854-2878 and following the recorded directions.
Center for Religious Life
The Earl Hall Center for Religious Life may be reached for spiritual counseling at (646) 906-5913 (Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET and by appointment after hours and during the weekends). For those on campus, Earl Hall and Saint Paul’s Chapel are open from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, for prayer and reflection.
Office of University Life