In Memoriam

John Brooks Slaughter
USC Emeritus Professor

John Brooks Slaughter, a distinguished leader in the fields of engineering, education and leadership, passed away on December 6, 2023, at the age of 89, following a courageous battle with cancer.

Slaughter’s legacy is intricately woven into the fabric of USC Viterbi and the USC Rossier School of Education, where he served as a University Professor Emeritus of Education and Electrical and Computer Engineering and played a pivotal role in shaping the narrative of inclusivity and excellence.

The first Black director of the National Science Foundation, the first Black president of Occidental College and the first Black chancellor of the University of Maryland, Slaughter was a testament to the resilience and relentless commitment required to break down barriers. In 2010, he joined USC Viterbi as a distinguished professor of engineering with a joint appointment at the USC Rossier School, leaving an indelible mark on the university.

On September 20, 2023, USC Viterbi’s Center for Engineering Diversity was renamed the John Brooks Slaughter Center for Engineering Diversity, a fitting tribute to a man who spent his life championing the cause of diversity in engineering education. This renaming ceremony celebrated Slaughter’s pivotal role in reshaping the conversation about engineering, recognizing his tireless efforts to foster an inclusive environment for underrepresented minority students.



Lloyd Welch
USC Emeritus Professor

Lloyd Welch, a renowned information theorist, code designer and master decoder whose algorithms and sequences made the nation safer and helped usher in the digital age, died of pneumonia on December 28, 2023. He was 96.

Welch was a USC Viterbi Emeritus Professor at the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering Systems and co-inventor of the influential Baum-Welch and Welch-Berlekamp algorithms. Known for the Welch lower bounds, the Gordon-Mills-Welch sequences, or GMW, and the McEliece-Rodemich-Rumsey-Welch bound on the information-bearing capacity of an error-correcting code, Welch won a raft of awards and honors for his groundbreaking work. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, he received the 2003 Claude E. Shannon Award. The chair of USC’s engineering department, Zohrab Kaprielian, recruited Welch to school in the mid-1960s. In 1968, Welch became a full professor, a position he held until his retirement in 1999.

“Lloyd was one of the foremost experts in the application of coding concepts to digital communications,” said NAE member Robert Scholtz, a former colleague at USC Viterbi and a longtime friend.

Added Andrew Viterbi, co-founder of semiconductor giant Qualcomm and namesake of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering: “Lloyd was a great mathematician, particularly with discrete mathematics. He strengthened the fundamentals that go into digital science.”