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USC selects equity and engagement leader Felicia Washington for top HR position

The accomplished university administrator and attorney will serve as senior vice president for human resources, a new post in the USC president’s cabinet.

Felicia Washington USC human resources
Felicia Washington will join USC as senior vice president for human resources. (Photo/Courtesy of Felicia Washington)

As part of broader efforts to strengthen USC’s organizational culture, experienced attorney and university administrator Felicia Washington will join USC as senior vice president of human resources, USC interim President Wanda M. Austin and President-elect Carol L. Folt announced today.

Her responsibilities will include overseeing the long-term strategic management and support of the university’s nearly 28,000 faculty and staff members and student workers. Starting June 1, she will report directly to the USC president in her role, which is a new position with the university’s senior leadership team.

“Ms. Washington has a strong reputation for implementing rigorous compliance standards while at the same time caring deeply about students, faculty and colleagues,” Austin said. “She is known for her collaborative, practical and people-focused approach to decision-making. We are confident she will be a highly valuable member of our Trojan Family, and will help us build on the foundation we have laid to bring about meaningful culture change.”

Washington joins USC after five years as vice chancellor for workplace strategy, equity and engagement at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she helped restructure and modernize the university’s human resources operations, among other achievements.

“I’m so excited to join the Trojan Family and help make USC an even better place to learn, live, work and play,” she said.

Guiding USC human resources into the future

One of Washington’s pressing tasks will be centralizing the university’s human resources enterprise while addressing the unique needs of schools and other divisions. Integrating personnel information from the University Park and Health Sciences campuses will help leaders make management decisions and implement new strategic measures consistently and comprehensively.

Other responsibilities include significantly strengthening the university’s reference-checking and background review process for new hires and those promoted to leadership roles, as well as digitizing personnel files and coordinating the onboarding process for all new managers. Washington will also guide human resources activities like workforce analytics, employee relations, retirement planning, talent acquisition and other crucial initiatives.

She will draw on her experience leading similar efforts at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she bolstered its search and hiring processes; increased the capacity of its equal opportunity, compliance and human resources teams; and helped guide the university through pressing challenges like an NCAA academic irregularities case. She also implemented a new policy that strengthened prohibitions against discrimination, harassment and related misconduct.

Prior to joining UNC-Chapel Hill, Washington practiced employment law in Charlotte, N.C., as a partner with K&L Gates, an international law firm. She litigated federal and state cases and advised clients regarding issues like employee investigations, hiring and regulatory compliance.

Washington has been involved in a wide variety of legal and community organizations, including service on the North Carolina Medical Board and as a member of the Board of Trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill.

A native of North Carolina, Washington is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, with a bachelor’s degree in economics. She completed her law degree at the University of Virginia School of Law.

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