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President of U. of Southern California Admits Flaws in Response to Reports of Dean’s Drug Use

C.L. Max Nikias, president of the University of Southern California, said on Wednesday in a written statement that the university “could have done better” in dealing with reports of drug use by the former medical-school dean Carmen A. Puliafito, and that it will form a task force to better investigate employee misconduct.

The university “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,” the president said. “And, presently, the university has very limited capacity to conduct investigations and follow up on leads or anonymous reports of such employee behavior.”

Mr. Nikias’s statement represents the first time the university has admitted it could have taken more steps to deal with the dean’s behavior a year ago. The admission comes in the wake of a sensational report by the Los Angeles Times on the doctor’s secret life of illicit drug use and heavy partying with prostitutes (one of whom overdosed while with him). USC announced on Friday it would begin the process of firing Mr. Puliafito, who remains a tenured member of the faculty.

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