I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Erroll Southers to the newly created position of Associate Senior Vice President of Safety & Risk Assurance, effective January 3, 2022. Dr. Southers will report to me and be responsible for overseeing the Administration Division’s safety departments – the Department of Public Safety (DPS), Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S), and Fire Safety & Emergency Planning (FSEP). Dr. Southers was selected after an extensive, nationwide search process that involved many highly qualified candidates. He brings with him years of skilled leadership, stellar experience, and exemplary service both at USC and throughout the field of law enforcement.

Dr. Southers will work closely with me and others within the university to ensure USC has best-in-class safety services programs to support our Trojan community. His leadership role also further aligns our safety operations to enhance collaboration and efficiencies across departments. Among Dr. Southers’ first responsibilities will be to chair the DPS Chief Search Committee to replace Chief John Thomas, who will be retiring January 12, 2021. The committee is being formed and will consist of faculty, staff, students, and local community leaders. The new DPS Chief will report to Dr. Southers, as will Deona Willes, EH&S Executive Director of Safety, and Steve Goldfarb, FSEP Safety Director, both of whom lead accomplished teams.

Dr. Southers first joined USC in 2003, and he has served in various roles over the past 18 years, including Professor of the Practice in National and Homeland Security, Director of the Safe Communities Institute and Director of Homegrown Violent Extremism Studies in the Sol Price School of Public Policy, and Director of International Programs for the National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE). Dr. Southers developed the Executive Program in Counterterrorism, as well as Homeland Security and Public Policy courses in the Price School, where he received various distinguished awards, including the 2014 Outstanding Doctoral Project Award, 2013 and 2014 Outstanding Adjunct Professor of the Year, and 2018 Sol Price School Robert Biller Outstanding Faculty Award. 

Additionally, Dr. Southers co-chaired the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy Social Justice Advisory Board, was an ex officio member of the USC President and Provost’s Task Force on Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and co-chaired the USC DPS Community Advisory Board (CAB). In his new role, Dr. Southers will be leading efforts to implement many of the DPS CAB’s recommendations in partnership with the CAB Implementation Team, Sam Garrison and his team in University Relations, and others in our campus community.

Dr. Southers’ career has spanned all levels of law enforcement over the past four decades. He formerly served as Assistant Chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence at the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department, was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California Office of Homeland Security, and was nominated by President Barack Obama to head the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). He previously enjoyed the distinction of FBI Special Agent and SWAT team member, as well as Santa Monica Police Officer, and has served in various leadership roles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for 11 years. Dr. Southers has testified before the full Congressional Committee on Homeland Security on several occasions as a subject matter expert and counterterrorism analyst. He also is a regular contributor to national and international media networks on matters of terrorism and national security. Notably, Dr. Southers was the recipient of the Earl Warren Outstanding Public Service Award and was recognized in SecurityMagazine’s Top 25 Most Influential Industry Thought Leaders in the United States. Dr. Southers earned his undergraduate degree from Brown University, and he holds master’s and doctoral degrees in public policy from USC.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Southers and wishing him well in his new position. We are extremely grateful for his continued leadership and service to USC.


David Wright

Senior Vice President, Administration