Memo: Office of Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention

Memorandum to USC Faculty, Staff, and Students
May 2, 2017

At USC, we aspire to do everything we can to ensure university wellness by supporting the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of our entire campus community. The tragic death of Professor Bosco Tjan in December reminds us that we have to constantly reassess our efforts in these areas. We want to better prepare for – and try to prevent – any future tragedies, by promoting a more mindful, compassionate, and healthy campus.

To that end, we have conducted an in-depth review of our policies and procedures and we have brought in an outside consulting firm to help us restructure our programs and services. Our aim is to have a well-organized system to educate our community, provide more support for those who need it, and better direct our university wellness, threat assessment, and crisis response teams.

We believe that organizing these efforts under one office will provide a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to ensuring the health and safety of our entire university community. Accordingly, I am pleased to announce the formation of the new Office of Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention. The office, which will report to me, will:

  • Advance wellness for faculty, staff, and students;
  • Provide training for faculty and staff on issues of student mental health;
  • Coordinate crisis response, along with the Department of Public Safety and Fire Safety and Emergency Planning;
  • Oversee the newly named Campus Support and Advocacy team — previously Student Support and Advocacy — which assists students and families to resolve complex issues that adversely affect academic and collegiate success;
  • Coordinate the university Threat Management Team along with the Department of Public Safety, the
  • Center for Work and Family Life, the Office of Equity and Diversity and the Engemann Student Health Center Counseling Services and Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, which identifies and responds to individuals who may pose a threat to themselves or others; and
  • Provide a one-stop solution for all non-emergency concerns relating to members of the USC community.

The office will be led by Dr. Varun Soni, Dean of Religious Life, who will now also serve as Vice Provost for Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention and as chair of the university Threat Management Team. Dr. Lynette Merriman, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Affairs, will become the Associate Vice Provost for Campus Crisis Support and Intervention, and Dr. Ilene Rosenstein, Director of Student Counseling Services, will become the Associate Vice Provost for Campus Wellness and Education.

The office will work closely with the Center for Work and Family Life, the Engemann Student Health Center, the Eric Cohen Student Health Center, the Department of Public Safety, the Academic Senate, the Deans, the Division of Student Affairs, the Division of Human Resources, the Office of General Counsel, the Office of Religious Life, the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Governments, and the Staff Assembly.

Even though we are creating this new office, we recognize that these efforts are ultimately a shared responsibility, and our entire university community must take seriously the health and safety of themselves and others. We will be all the better for it.


President C. L. Max Nikias
Academic Senate
Academic Deans
President’s Cabinet
Provost’s Cabinet