Executive Summary

Action Plan:  Executive Summary

  • The action plan presents concrete measures to revisit the university’s core values, improve campus culture, restructure a number of the university’s operations, and revise the university’s employment policies across both campuses.
  • The action plan was developed over the last several months, in conjunction with the Task Force on Workplace Standards and Employee Wellness, which consists of USC faculty and staff.
  • It responds directly to recommendations from Gibson Dunn, the law firm charged with investigating the handling of the matter involving one of USC’s former deans; input from the Task Force; and new lessons learned from the recent matter involving the university’s student health center.
  • The president has established a President’s Campus Culture Commission, co-chaired by Paula Cannon, a former president of the faculty and a distinguished professor at our Keck School of Medicine, and John Gaspari, executive director of the USC Center for Work and Family Life. The commission will continually assess the implementation of the action plan.

Part I: Core Values and Campus Culture

  • The recent matter regarding the university’s former student health center physician has reinforced the urgency to take decisive steps to ensure a culture and structure where reports of inappropriate behavior are quickly identified and elevated, and where people are held accountable for their conduct.
  • The university will commit to change and improve its campus culture to create an atmosphere that elevates professionalism and character.
  • Four cornerstones that will define this change are: Care, Concern, Consultation, and Compliance.
  • The university will redraft its Code of Ethics and explore the applicability of the Vanderbilt Co-worker Observation Reporting System (CORS), a reporting system for concerns that currently do not have a clear structure for handling.

Part II:  Revisiting the University’s Operational Structure

  • The university will establish an Office of Professionalism and Ethics (OPE), to be led by a new vice president of professionalism and ethics, who will report to the senior vice president and general counsel.
    • OPE will serve as a centralized, single center for all university complaint monitoring and investigation.
      • All leaders (including faculty) who receive a report, or who have something to report, must tell their supervisors and submit a report to OPE, or face sanctioning.
    • In the area of complaint monitoring, OPE will work with the following six offices: Title IX; Office of Equity and Diversity (OED); Office of Conduct, Accountability, and Professionalism; Athletic Compliance; Office of Compliance; Office of Audit Services; and Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards (SJACS).
    • OPE will not be involved in the disciplinary process, which will vary for (1) faculty, (2) hospital medical staff, (3) staff, (4) students, and (5) student cases involving Title IX.
  • In addition to the vice president of professionalism and ethics, the university will create a second new position at this level: vice president of human resources, who will oversee the centralization of USC’s human resources operations.
    • This position will significantly strengthen the university’s reference checking process and implement a more comprehensive background check process for all new hires and promotions to leadership positions.
    • The university will create a Leadership Training Academy at USC. At the heart of its mission will be the notion of a responsible leader.
  • The university will establish the USC Office of Ombuds Services, which will provide a safe space for our community to address difficult workplace situations, and for our employees to seek impartial guidance on a range of work-related issues.
    • The office will have a physical presence on both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses.
  • In addition to the two vice president positions announced above (of professionalism and ethics; and of human resources), the university is creating the position of senior vice president for communications.
  • With this action plan, the university is committed to achieving its mission of maintaining the highest standards for universities throughout the nation.
  • The university seeks to create a campus culture that nourishes its community’s intellectual and creative growth and fosters an inclusive atmosphere, while supporting the personal wellbeing of all students, faculty, and staff.