What does OPE do?

The Office of Professionalism and Ethics (OPE) serves as a centralized clearinghouse for complaints and the subsequent tracking of those complaints at USC for both campuses and all university programs and affiliates. The office also provides oversight of investigations.

What does OPE do when it receives a complaint? 

When OPE receives a complaint, the staff reviews the information provided and assigns it to the appropriate investigative office, ensuring a timely resolution is reached in accordance with established procedures.

Once a complaint is filed, who contacts with reporting parties? 

OPE will provide initial confirmation of complaint receipt. The office responsible for conducting the investigation will provide subsequent communication and updates.

Who investigates complaints? 

The offices that investigate complaints includes Human Resources, Faculty Affairs, the Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX, the Office of Culture, Ethics and Compliance, the Office of Athletic Compliance, the Office of Conduct, Accountability and Professionalism (OCAP), Student Affairs, and the Office of Audit Services.

There are instances when OPE will be charged with conducting formal investigations. OPE only investigates cases in specific instances at the direction of the OPE vice president or university senior leadership.

Investigation is a general term that refers to both a less formal review of concerns with a speedy resolution, as well as a more formal investigative fact-finding process, such as those outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

What information will university officials such as deans be provided? 

For Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX and OCAP cases involving faculty or staff members, school deans will be provided notice of a formal investigation, parties that involved, any interim measures and findings from investigations. School deans will be provided the same information for Title IX cases where there is a need to know as outlined by law, such as when interim protective measures are implemented or other factors which require school leadership’s awareness or involvement.

Does USC release findings of investigations?

Other than disclosed above, findings from all investigations are kept confidential between the parties involved. Summaries of investigation findings may be released publicly only with the written agreed consent of the parties involved.

If a findings of a violation or violations occur, who determines sanction? 

  • The Committee on Professional Responsibilities determines sanctions against faculty.
  • Central Human Resources determines sanctions against staff members.
  • The Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards or Misconduct Sanctioning Panel for Title IX cases determine sanctions against students.

How does OPE enhance accountability with respect to reported concerns?

Vice President Michael Blanton reports to the Senior Vice President of Human Resources and also provides reports to the chair of the audit, compliance, risk and privacy committee of the Board of Trustees. OPE has the expectation that any complaint or report registered by a member of the university community is reviewed, tracked and adjudicated fairly and as quickly as possible consistent with university policies and practices.  OPE may reach out across the University landscape to offices that manage student, staff, and faculty matters to work with these partnering offices regarding this expectation.

Will my report be kept confidential?

The university’s ability to respond to or investigate anonymous reports is limited. In most cases, the university is unable to investigate without the participation of an active reporting party.

If you submit an anonymous report, it will be reviewed to determine whether there are enough details to initiate a review. If insufficient details are provided, in most instances, OPE, and the offices within its purview, will be unable to pursue the matter in the form of an investigation.

I’m afraid my co-workers/supervisor will be angry with me if I file a report. Are there protections for me?

USC encourages reporting of misconduct. University policy also requires students, staff, and faculty to participate in an investigation once a report has been made.

Retaliation for reporting misconduct or participating in an investigating is prohibited and will be investigated as a separate act of misconduct. During an investigation, the university will work to mitigate the fear of retaliation through a variety of resources and protections available to the parties and witnesses.

Can I report an issue regarding medical care I received from USC?

OPE does not oversee complaint investigations for the hospital medical staff if they relate only to standard of care issues.

To comment to Keck Medicine of USC, please call: (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or use the Keck Medicine of USC online contact form. Questions and comments submitted using the form are responded to during normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Inquiries received outside of normal business hours or on weekends will be reviewed the following business day.

To comment on standard of care at USC Student Health, please send in your comments, compliments and concerns by filling out the USC Student Health online contact form. Forms will be received and reviewed by Steven Schulman, MHA – Manager, Ambulatory Quality.  Feel free to call 213-821-6597 to speak to Steven by phone.