Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito was a heck of a dean at the USC medical school. Under his leadership, the school went up in the rankings and hauled in millions in donations. However, it seems there was some extracurricular activity on the dean’s part. Photos emerged showing Dr. Puliafito lighting a glass pipe for a female companion who was smoking heroin. Then there was the video showing the dean popping ecstasy and saying to the camera,“Thought I’d take an ecstasy before the ball.” School officials were then given a tip that a young woman (age 21 and reportedly a prostitute) who had been partying with the dean at a Pasadena hotel was hospitalized for an overdose. Following the overdose report, Dr. Puliafito resigned as dean to “pursue outside opportunities.” Adam Nagourney and Jennifer Medina, “Scandal Sinks Dean at U.S.C., Shocking a City,” New York Times, July 26, 2017, p. A1. However, he remained on the faculty and continued to see patients.
Once the Los Angeles Times reported on the drug issues, USC’s president issued a statement saying,“. . .it is clear to us now that the university currently has only loosely defined procedures and guidelines for dealing with employee behavior outside the workplace that may be improper or illegal and has the capacity to affect USC. And, presently, the university has very limited capacity to conduct investigations and follow up on leads or anonymous reports of such employee behavior.”
Sometimes we get a report and hope that it goes away. That hope is always ill-placed. If what is reported is true, you have a problem. If it is false, you still have a problem to manage via communications and solid facts. Either way, once the reports and pictures emerged, the only alternative was an investigation. USC has hired a former federal prosecutor to investigate what happened. Now if they could just get the guy off the faculty.