University of Southern California

About USC

Thomas S. Sayles

Senior Vice President, University Relations

Thomas S. Sayles was appointed senior vice president for university relations effective July 1, 2011. In this capacity, he provides strategic direction and leadership of USC’s efforts to continuously improve its relationships with external and internal stakeholders. His responsibilities include government relations, communications, media relations, public relations, marketing, community outreach, and USC’s thirteen public radio stations.

Previously, Sayles practiced law in the private and public sectors. He left the practice of law to serve as California’s commissioner of corporations and later as secretary of business, transportation and housing. He then returned to the private sector to work for Sempra Energy as vice president of government and community affairs and as senior vice president of consumer marketing. Immediately prior to joining USC, Sayles was senior vice president for government affairs and corporate communications at Rentech, Inc., an alternative fuels company headquartered in Los Angeles.

In July 2009, he was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the governing board of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and served as Board President until August of 2013. In January 2017, he was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve on the Board of Airport Commissioners for the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA).

In 2013, Sayles was appointed to the Los Angeles 2020 Commission, a private and independent commission that was asked to study and report on fiscal stability and job growth in Los Angeles. The Commission issued two reports. The first set for the challenges and opportunities Los Angeles faced and the second put forth concrete measures which, if adopted, would put Los Angeles on a path toward fiscal stability and renewed job creation.

Sayles also has been appointed by three different California governors to serve on boards and commissions, including the University of California Board of Regents and the California Community Colleges Board of Trustees.

Sayles currently serves on the Board of Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the board of directors of Unified Grocers, the largest buying cooperative for independent grocers in the western United States. He previously served on the boards of directors of Golden State Bancorp (California Federal Bank) and Glendale Federal Bank.

Born and raised in South Los Angeles, not far from USC’s University Park campus, Sayles earned a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree “with distinction” from Stanford University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Senior Staff

Brenda Barnes
President, USC Radio

Martha Escutia
Vice President, Government Relations

Brenda K. Maceo
Vice President, Public Relations and Marketing

Christine Murakami
Senior Administrative Director

Earl C. Paysinger
Vice President, Civic Engagement


Last Updated: 03/06/17