USC Moves to Fire Ex-Dean Puliafito Amid Drug Scandal

USC said it is moving quickly to fire its former med school dean, Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito. But for 15 months, the school stonewalled Los Angeles Times inquiries about his alleged drug use.

What did USC know about allegations of meth use by its former medical school dean, Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, and when did it know it? That question is lingering as the school said it was moving to fire Puliafito days after the Los Angeles Times reported allegations that he used meth and other drugs. USC Provost Michael Quick said the university decided to act because it had been shown “extremely troubling” information about Puliafito’s behavior. “I know many people wanted us to act on allegations and hearsay, but we needed actual facts,” Quick wrote in a letter to the faculty.

It remains unclear when top USC officials first learned about the allegations involving Puliafito. But the Times made repeated inquiries over the last 15 months about Puliafito, in some cases describing information reporters had gathered about the dean. USC’s leaders never responded. Only after the Times published its report on July 17 did USC address the matter publicly. By Friday, officials deplored Puliafito’s conduct and said they had hired a law firm to look into the administration’s handling of the matter. The Times report described in detail how Puliafito kept company with a circle of criminals and drug addicts and used methamphetamine and other drugs while serving as dean of the Keck School of Medicine.