Virginia Commonwealth University has appointed a former U.S. Department of Homeland Security senior official to its L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, where he will create one of the nation's first undergraduate majors in homeland security and emergency planning.
William Parrish was named an associate professor of political science and brings to the position 30 years experience in anti-terrorism training and operational planning, including a position as senior adviser to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
Parrish most recently was the department's senior representative to FBI Headquarters. He also established the Office of Anti-Terrorism for the U.S. Customs Service. Parrish, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel, also served as commanding officer of the Marine Corps Security Forces, charged with providing security to U.S. government installations around the world.
"Bill Parrish is an international leader in this field and is a significant addition to VCU, where he brings unparalleled experience in both the military and civilian sectors as we build one of the first homeland security undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the country," said Robert D. Holsworth, Ph.D., director of VCU's L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.
In a letter to the university recommending Parrish for the position, Homeland Security Secretary Ridge praised VCU's efforts in this arena. "As you look across academic disciplines within universities, including business, medicine, science, education and criminal justice, each leads to careers that could be enhanced by a strong understanding of homeland security and the measures taken to prevent, or if necessary respond to acts of terrorism. I commend Virginia Commonwealth University for its insight in recognizing the need to provide a program that offers education and training in issues surrounding homeland security and emergency planning," Ridge said.
VCU will be among a few U.S. universities to offer degree programs in homeland security and emergency planning. Many colleges and universities offer courses and certificate programs. Students will study security-related issues as they relate to all levels of government, as well as emergency preparedness and disaster mitigation.
"VCU is responding to a need for trained professionals to lead the fight against terrorism at state, local and national levels of government, as well as private industry," Parrish said. "Homeland security requires a national response across all segments of society, and academic institutions will play a key role in creating this awareness."
Parrish has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration from Central Missouri State University; a master's degree in international strategic studies from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.; and a master's degree in management from Salve Regina University, also in Newport. He has attended and lectured at the Senior Executive National and International Security Program, John F.Kennedy School of Government, Harvard.