Lea Baechler, assistant dean of academic affairs at Columbia College and English professor, died on Oct. 1, of a brain aneurysm. She was 52.
Over the years, she taught English, creative writing and literature humanities at Columbia, Barnard, Princeton and the University of Idaho. She served on the staff of the dean of Columbia College since 1998.
Baechler was putting the last touches on her dissertation in the Department of English at Columbia when she died. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia (1987), a master's degree from the University of Idaho (1977) and a B.A. from Florida International University.
From the topic of her master's thesis, "The Middle English Passion Lyric: Meditation and Affective Devotion," to her dissertation title, "Twentieth Century American Elegies: Loss, Mourning and Poetic Process," Baechler was taken by the challenge of articulating the process of mourning and loss. As a poet, she saw poetry as a key to understanding and opening the universe.
She is survived by her father, her sisters Jan and Kim and three nieces.