USC Human Resources, Equity, and Compliance Announcement

June 14, 2024

Dear Colleagues,

I write today to share the bittersweet news that Felicia Washington, USC’s first senior vice president of human resources, will be leaving USC to lead Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania at the end of August. She is an incredible national leader, a valued colleague, and a highly respected advocate for building a culture of excellence across the university. While we all will miss her, we also will celebrate her excitement about this new opportunity and about returning to the East Coast and being closer to her family.

Felicia was a pivotal hire for USC, actually beginning here before I assumed my role as president. Her leadership for the last five-plus years transformed USC’s large and disconnected human resources services into an aligned, modernized organization that has benefited all students, faculty, and staff. With her team, she improved processes across UPC and HSC, integrated important new initiatives, and reinvigorated the department with best-in-class services. She has placed USC Human Resources at the forefront of universities, and set up USC for our next decade of growth and improvement.

One of her top priorities was to build professionalized and centralized human resources services. Accordingly, they have closed gaps in the operation, people practices, and risk controls across units, and provided staff opportunities to learn new skills. More than 30 HR teams (from across units) have been created to provide dedicated support to our senior vice president-level administrative and provost units, as well as to three schools. She also prioritized creating education, training, and development opportunities for our HR professionals, including through participation in “HR Academy,” a proprietary program developed by Felicia’s team.

Another important move she made was to bring together Human Resources; the Office of Culture, Ethics, and Compliance; the Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX; and the Office of Professionalism and Ethics. This was a game changer for USC and is being adopted as an effective practice in higher education to build and strengthen accountability and transparency. She established a vision through the program Deliver More Impact Than Ever Before with four goals for her teams: Elevate our Employee’s Experience; Instill University-wide Cohesiveness; Implement and Integrate Legal Requirements; and Advance USC’s Mission. 

Under her leadership, USC redesigned the Title IX, Clery, and Youth Protection functions, and launched streamlined reporting and compliance platforms to ensure reported concerns are documented, tracked, and addressed according to university policies and regulatory requirements. She also successfully implemented the Tyndall-related requirements at USC, mandated by the Office for Civil Rights in their Resolution Agreement and the Department of Education’s Clery audit.

Because her work and that of her teams affects all of us, I want to mention a few more notable contributions: the redesign of employee welfare benefits, expansion of long-term disability to all benefits-eligible employees, and launch of the USC Healthy Campus initiative. This helped propel “USC provides resources for mental health and well-being support” to become the second most highly rated question on our recent Culture Survey. 

While her work is extensive, Felicia also has represented USC as president of the Board of the American Research Universities Human Resource Institute (ARU-HRI), comprising Chief Human Resources Officers (CHRO) of AAU, R-1 universities. She was instrumental in creating the ARU-HRI CHRO Academy, which serves to develop the next generation of CHROs in higher education. 

As many of you know, I worked with Felicia in her previous role as vice chancellor for workplace strategy, equity, and engagement at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With her collaboration, we helped the university through some of the most pressing challenges in its history. It’s been an honor and privilege to continue working together over the past five years. I will miss her professionalism, counsel, spirit, courage, and most importantly, her friendship. But great friends never leave, and she will remain part of our Trojan Family even as she dons Penn blue (luckily we won’t be facing them at many games).

We’re extremely fortunate she has created a strong team that is ready to lead a seamless transition. You will be hearing more about this in the coming months.

Please join me in thanking Felicia for her many contributions and dedication to USC, and wishing her well as she begins this next important step in her career.


Carol L. Folt