Because this is an issue that is concerning to our entire community, I am writing with an update on our actions regarding former medical school dean Carmen Puliafito. As I said in my memo on Wednesday, we are making decisions as best and as swiftly as we can, given the information we have at any particular time. I know many people wanted us to act on allegations and hearsay, but we needed actual facts.
Today, we were provided access to information of egregious behavior on the part of the former dean concerning substance abuse activities with people who aren’t affiliated with USC. This was the first time we saw such information first-hand. It is extremely troubling and we need to take serious action.
As you know, there are well-established academic procedures we must carefully and deliberately follow and to which every faculty member is entitled, regardless of the severity of the accusation. With this new information, we have initiated the required process to terminate Dr. Puliafito’s employment at USC and strip him of his faculty tenure. As we undergo this process, he is under immediate suspension from the university and is barred from our campuses and any association with USC, including attending or participating in university events.
We certainly understand that substance abuse is a tragic and devastating disease. But we are also bound to our responsibilities as a university to take the necessary actions concerning Dr. Puliafito’s status.
Our inquiries are continuing with the assistance of outside counsel, and we will keep you updated as we are able.
Let me end by saying that I know it hurts all of us to hear negative accusations and criticisms about our university. All of you work hard every day to carry out our university’s mission and advance its good work in the world. Our university and our community will remain dedicated to the university’s core values.
C. L. Max Nikias