Message to the USC Community
From Michael W. Quick, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; Varun Soni, Vice Provost for Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention, Dean of Religious Life
February 23, 2018
The tragic high school shooting last week in Parkland, Florida has left us, once again, grieving for lives cut short and, understandably, concerned about our own community. We also are emboldened by the voices of the students there and we know that we, too, must take robust steps to prevent similar terrible acts in the future.
We have had several disturbing events on our own campus – the loss of a beloved neuroscience professor and the distressing active shooter scare, among others – that serve as reminders of the need to take care of ourselves and others, and to review mental health, emergency preparedness, threat assessment, and public safety protocols. By everyone working together, sharing information and concerns, using the resources we have on campus and dealing with issues early, we can create a safe and thriving USC community.
Accordingly, we have made significant improvements to our wellness, prevention, threat assessment, and crisis response initiatives to increase the availability of resources for all Trojans and maximize our safety on campus. The new Office of Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention is building a comprehensive infrastructure to support students, faculty, and staff. This approach is regarded as a national model for creating comprehensive, interdisciplinary support, evaluation and action. Among the steps we have taken:
- Engemann Student Health Center (at UPC) and Eric Cohen Student Health Center (at HSC), led by Associate Vice Provost Dr. Sarah Van Orman, have successfully integrated with Keck School of Medicine of USC to increase access to student counseling and medical services to better meet the demand from within the USC community.
- We have recently hired Patrick Prince, a nationally recognized expert in workplace violence prevention, trauma recovery, and crisis response, as our new Chief Threat Assessment Officer. He and his team will identify and evaluate potential risks and create action plans to address safety concerns.
- USC Support and Advocacy, led by Associate Vice Provost Dr. Lynette Merriman, provides support for faculty, students and staff. She and her team assist students and families with complex issues that adversely affect academic success and work extensively with departments and divisions across USC.
- We also have a university focus on wellness and education, led by Associate Vice Provost Dr. Ilene Rosenstein, to promote a more compassionate and healthy campus. This includes training for faculty and staff on issues of mental health, workplace wellness and mindfulness.
- We will be distributing the university’s first “Cardinal Folder,” a printed and online reference guide that highlights the university’s crisis response, emergency preparedness and threat assessment resources.
- We are providing workshops and seminars to inform departments about active-shooter protocols and to develop strategies to reduce risks in their environments.
Providing a safe environment for our community to live, work and study is our priority, and we will continue to take additional steps to maintain security for all members of our community. Please see the attached list of resources for additional information.
Cc: C. L. Max Nikias