Moving Forward

Message to Keck School of Medicine of USC Faculty and Staff

From: Michael W. Quick, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; Todd R. Dickey, Senior Vice President for Administration

October 10, 2017

We know that many of you are disappointed by recent events at the medical school. We understand your concerns and we pledge to work with you to set a corrected course and to emerge stronger than before.

While the issues at Keck have been painful, they have informed us. We have reflected on what it means to be a member of the Trojan Family, and more importantly, the crucial role that university leaders have in creating a strong and supportive culture on our campuses. We must build the respectful, honest community that is embodied in our code of ethics.

We recognize that the values and conduct of our leaders should be beyond reproach, and we are committed to living out these values. That means we will take decisive action when we have information that warrants it. And we will not tolerate clearly inappropriate behavior by university employees, regardless of rank. As you learn of more actions we are taking, please understand that while distressing, they are necessary to achieve the culture we seek.

Today, we want to announce several new measures we are taking to strengthen and improve our culture. We ask for your support as we improve our working and teaching environments.

  1. Vice Provost for Leadership Development and Evaluation: We will create an office, reporting to the Provost, that will provide leadership training to address our expectations of deans and senior leaders, and to evaluate their performance. Working closely with Human Resources, Compliance and other departments, this office will educate leaders about their roles and responsibilities that come from holding a leadership position (including ensuring that leaders understand that they are subject to a higher standard than all other employees), leadership training, screening and background investigations, 360-degree leadership reviews, and when needed, disciplinary actions.
  2. USC Ombuds Office:  It is crucial that we have a confidential space for our community to report issues on our campuses with support and to explore options and make informed decisions. We have asked Varun Soni, Vice Provost for Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention, to create this office to assist our community in managing difficult situations that arise in the workplace, and to do so with impartiality and independence. This office will have a physical presence on the Health Sciences Campus.
  3. Investigative unit for non-protected classes: Many incidents are reported that do not fall neatly within the scope of investigations undertaken by such offices as Equity and Diversity and Title IX. We will create a separate unit to work on such concerns raised by our community.  Results of these investigations involving faculty will be handled by the office of the Vice Provost; results of investigations involving staff will be handled by the Associate Senior Vice President for Human Resources.
  4. Strengthened Reporting: We must have clear processes to elevate concerns so we can track them as they arise and provide feedback on how we are handling them. We will work on improving these processes and procedures.
  5. Specific Initiatives: We will work with Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president and chief executive officer for Keck Medicine of USC, along with the interim dean of the Keck School of Medicine and the deans of Pharmacy and Dentistry, on focused initiatives for the faculty, students and staff at the Health Sciences Campus.

In the meantime, we want to remind you, if you are concerned about a fellow Trojan with personal difficulties, you can report the situation privately and anonymously through Trojans Care for Trojans at:

If you are concerned about suspected violations of law, university policy and/or USC’s Code of Ethics by a member of the university community, you can report the matter anonymously through USC’s Help and Hotline, a 24/7 service managed by our Office of Compliance:

The USC Compliance Officer and University Auditor have a direct reporting line to the Audit and Compliance Committee of the Board of Trustees. As such, they have open access to the committee to report matters that could impact the well-being of the university, including credible concerns reported to them about senior leadership.

In addition to these steps, we expect further recommendations from the Gibson Dunn review and our internal Task Force on Workplace Standards and Employee Wellness. We know task force members are looking closely at these same issues of organizational culture and individual wellness, and will develop proposals to help us improve in these areas. We will work in concert with them to implement these, and other, longer-term changes to advance our common objectives. We are interested in hearing directly from anyone with recommendations for creating the campus climate to which we all aspire. You can contact us directly at or

We recognize that we ask much of our community: to be not only global leaders in research, teaching, creative expression, and clinical care, but also leaders in the way we act, treat and respect each other. Our actions must be a visible manifestation of our highest ideals and shared values. With all of these steps, and more, we know we will become an even more exceptional community.

Cc:       C. L. Max Nikias
Academic Senate
Academic Deans
President’s Cabinet
Provost’s Cabinet