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One of them had the audacity to suggest that the president of the University of Southern California should resign, given how incredibly badly he dealt – continues to deal – with his beyond-disgraced million-dollar med school dean (Is the now ex-dean on leave? The school seems to say that he is. Is that leave with pay?).

“If this is true, if it turns out that it is a cultural problem with the university, with President Nikias, will you [She’s addressing Carmen Puliafito’s replacement as dean.] fight for President Nikias to be let go, so we can bring in another president who wouldn’t let this happen?” the student asked.

Because it sure looks as though the prez knew a lot was wrong with Puliafito, and that he therefore knew this worst of outcomes – a big national scandal – was possible… After all:

At the meeting on the Keck campus, students — some wearing hospital scrubs — said university administrators should have known more about Puliafito’s troubling behavior, including reports that he appeared drunk or otherwise intoxicated at campus events. One woman said that it “seems shocking that no one has been able to figure anything out in the last 10 years. … People are now going to be questioning our professionalism.”

So that’s a new but not surprising thing – he appeared drunk or otherwise intoxicated at campus events.. In earlier Pugliafito posts, I’ve anticipated that we’ll be getting reports of his having exhibited signs of trouble at public USC events. You don’t reach this guy’s depth of squalor without revealing it in various ways. But, as the student’s comment suggests, the thing that needs explaining here is why the university kept the guy in his position for years. Achieving his degree of debauchery is not the work of a day. What sort of university president lets his medical school dean – his $1.1 million man – slide down the long slide and not do something about it? Especially given the simultaneous meltdown of his football coach, Steve Sarkisian?

Or was that in itself the problem? Was the president simply overwhelmed with a pretty amazing set of events – the alcohol/drug breakdowns at the same time of a dean and a coach? A 2015 Newsweek opinion piece is titled:


USC IGNORED THE WARNING SIGNS ABOUT STEVE SARKISIAN’S DRINKING

And the writer asks:

[W]here were the real adults — [USC Athletic Director Pat] Haden, university president C.L. Max Nikias and chief operating officer Steve Lopes —

when Sarkisian showed up drunk at one USC event after another?

For sure the university should ask itself whether a president who mishandled both of these crises – Sarkisian and Puliafito – is fit for the office.

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