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Academic Engagement Overview

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Academic Engagement (OAE) engages with associations, university leadership, school administrators, faculty, students, and other academic partners on a range of homeland security-related issues. DHS formed the Office of Academic Engagement (OAE) as a standalone office in 2011 to strengthen the Department’s relationship with the academic community in three functional areas: engagement, resilience, and outreach.

Traci Silas
Executive Director (Office of Academic Engagement)

Traci Silas, Executive Director, Office of Academic Engagement

Executive Director Traci Silas joined the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Headquarters in May of 2021. As the Executive Director of the Office of Academic Engagement, Office of Partnership and Engagement she leads engagements among the higher education community, including 2-year, 4-year, trade, military, technical, agricultural, tribal, faith and similarly situated academic institutions. Executive Director Silas regularly engages with academic associations and colleges to inform various stakeholders of the Secretary’s priorities pertaining to student and graduate recruitment, campus safety and resiliency, and the cybersecurity, international students, infrastructure, law enforcement and emergency management homeland security missions.

Far from new to DHS, Executive Director Silas initially launched her career in 2010, serving in key leadership positions including, but not limited to, the Acting Deputy Chief of Staff within the Office of Partnership and Engagement; the Forced Labor Division Director within U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and the Senior Director of Federal Advisory Committees within the Committee Management Office. Prior to federal service, she held several oversight positions within private industry focused on audit compliance, privacy implications, immigration reform and human rights advocacy.

Executive Director Silas earned her undergraduate degree from Hampton University where she landed a grant-funded externship with the National Institute of Health focused on anti-bullying and sexual assault. She earned a Juris Doctorate in general practice, international law and real estate law from Hofstra University School of Law in Long Island, New York. Continuing her personal commitment to the value of continuous learning, Executive Director Silas obtained an international certification in Use of Force Law from the University of Nice in France and an international certification in European Union Law from the University of the Netherland Antilles in Curacao. Most recently, she completed the Partnership for Public Service’s Excellence in Government Fellows program and graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executive Fellows Program.

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 diversity-driven engagement map displays academic institutions and associations across the United States where the Office of Academic Engagement (OAE) is establishing a direct relationship between the institution and the Department. Central to this effort is an initiative to engage with members of the academic community who represent, gender-based, race-based, geographical location-based, and sexual orientation-based diversity.

FY22 Diversity-Driven Engagement Map. States and territories shaded in blue consist of completed MOUs.

FY22 Diversity-Driven Engagement Map Details

State/Territory Academic Institutions with Confirmed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Arizona (AZ) Arizona State University
District of Columbia (DC) University of the District of Columbia
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
Howard University
Trinity Washington University
Florida (FL) Keiser University

Georgia (GA)

Wesleyan College
Guam (GU) University of Guam
Kentucky (KY) University of Louisville
Louisiana (LA) Southern University Law Center
Southern University New Orleans 
Michigan (MI) Eastern Michigan University
Mississippi (MS)

Jackson State University
Tougaloo College
Mississippi Valley State University

Nebraska (NE) University of Nebraska 
New Mexico (NM) Navajo Technical University
North Carolina (NC) Bennett College
Ohio (OH) Ohio State University
Wilberforce University
Oregon (OR) University of Oregon 
South Carolina (SC) Benedict College
Texas (TX) Texas Southern University 


Outreach: Original attempts to connect with new academic stakeholders.

Engagement: OAE fulfills request to speak, provide resources or connections.

Diversity: OAE initiatives encompasses gender-based, race-based, geographical location-based, and sexual orientation-based.


Contact Us

Email our office at DHSAcademic@hq.dhs.gov.

Last Updated: 03/14/2023
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