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Prof. Phillip Van Saun

Ethics and Crisis Communication

Professor Van Saun is the inaugural Executive Director of Security, Risk, and Resilience for the University of California Office of the President. The role of the Executive Director is to serve as the contrarian for senior leadership and to question the assumptions of current and future operational decisions, especially those that involve safety, security, and risk, and who is empowered by the most senior officer to inform leadership on critical flaws in security, safety, and risk management.


The position reports directly to senior administration on enterprise-wide security, including international, campus-based, and operational security risk exposure, and provides strategic advice and planning on how best to mitigate security-related risks.


Professor Van Saun's career spans thirty-five years developing, delivering and guiding risk strategy at the highest levels of state, federal, national and international organizations. Cited as a "thought leader" in the conduct of scenarios-based strategy planning, leading to selection as one of seventy international scholar/practitioners to attend the 2017 Oxford University futures forum and as a facilitator for the US State Department Overseas Security Advisory Council Academic Working Group 2018 annual meeting in Israel.


Awarded the Presidential Service Badge by President George HW Bush for service in the White House. Risk strategy experience involving complex business ventures in Russia, Venezuela, Chile, Israel, Argentina, South Africa and Tanzania. He is a graduate of the national interagency crisis communications program, the White House Military Office’s executive support program and the executive program in crisis management at Harvard. Phillip lectures in the UCLA Extension risk and homeland security program.


He holds an MA in communication, summa cum laude, from Trinity University and is the author of Failure Is An Option: A Primer and Guide for Managing Crises. He and his wife Teri have been married for 32 years and enjoy traveling the world together. 

Prof. Phillip Van Saun
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