Last week, the LA Times broke a story about the clandestine exploits of USC’s former medical school dean, Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito.
Four days later, USC announced its plans to fire Puliafito for his conduct, which allegedly included methamphetamine use while overseeing medical students, professors and clinicians, according to the Times investigation. He was also a prolific fundraiser for the university, with estimated donations totaling more than $1 billion. Arguably one of the most egregious allegations against Puliafito is his presence with a 21-year-old woman who overdosed in a Pasadena hotel room. She later recovered.
The L.A. Times said in a recent article that they had reached out to USC repeatedly over the course of the last 15 months. The university never responded to the Times’ inquiries. It’s unclear whether the Times investigation led to the end of Puliafito’s role as dean.
So what do you think of USC’s handling of Puliafito’s conduct? Will this hurt USC’s brand in the future?
We reached out to USC’s Office of the President, as well as their media relations office. They were unable to join us on-air, but provided the following statement:
The University of Southern California (USC) believes it is imperative to let the inquiry by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher run its course so as to not impede its progress or cloud the recollections of those who may have information to share. Our priority now is to obtain a clear picture of exactly what happened and to ensure the well-being and trust of our students at USC, the patients at the Keck School and our entire university community.
Simon Barker, managing partner at Blue Moon Consulting Group, crisis management firm based in Denver; he focuses on crisis management and reputational risk in higher education
Ann Fromholz, a Pasadena-based employment lawyer who has conducted hundreds of workplace investigations; she is also a USC law school alumna