USC Donations Drop $100 Million after Puliafito Scandal, Report Says

February 9, 2018: By Joan McKenna

The University of Southern California saw a $100 million drop in contributions in the last half of 2017 in the wake of a scandal involving former ophthalmologist Carmen Puliafito, according to a story published Feb. 7 by The Los Angeles Times.

Donations dropped $45 million, or 55 percent, within USC’s Keck School of Medicine, where Puliafito served as dean from August 2007 to March 2016.

The decline in support followed publication of a Los Angeles Times story in July 2017 alleging that Puliafito used methamphetamine and other drugs and kept company with prostitutes and drug users, sometimes on campus, while he was dean. In the aftermath, the university faced numerous related expenses as it hired crisis managers and launched an investigation into the school’s handling of the scandal.

University officials attributed the decline in contributions to normal fluctuations in fundraising.

Two USC employees involved with fundraising told the LA Times that donors were affected by the scandal and felt the school’s moral compass didn’t fit their own anymore.

USC has transformed its fundraising efforts in recent years. It launched a $6 billion fundraising campaign in 2011 and surpassed its goal in 6 1/2 years, raising as much in that time as it had in the previous 6 1/2 decades combined, the school said.

Puliafito’s own reputation was built around his fundraising prowess, both at USC and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

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