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USC Trustees Back Dean’s Ouster over Handling of Harassment Cases

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M. Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
TOM CICCOTTA

The University of Southern California Board of Trustees has fired business school dean James Ellis over his alleged mishandling of harassment cases.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the University of Southern California has fired Dean James Ellis over his alleged mishandling of harassment allegations. The Tribune themselves have noted that the mysterious nature of Ellis’ dismissal has prompted some to argue that Ellis was treated unfairly.

Administrators have not publicly revealed what prompted Austin to remove Ellis, sparking anger from some who say he’s being unfairly treated. Two sources close to the university who were not authorized to disclose confidential matters said the administration’s investigation included reviewing dozens of misconduct complaints filed over the last 10 years against business school leadership, faculty and staff. Those complaints included allegations of racial and gender discrimination and hostile workplace conditions, the sources said. The specific details of the complaints or how they were adjudicated are unclear.

Ellis was known for drastically increasing the business school’s reputation during his tenure. In various reports, Ellis was vaguely accused of not properly addressing allegations of racial, sexual, and age discrimination.

Ellis was fired by Interim President Wanda Austin, who was installed in response to the Dr. George Tyndall sexual harassment scandal. Tyndall was fired after it was revealed that he has been sexually assaulting female student-patients for decades. 225 women accused Tyndall of sexually assaulting them during visits to his office.

Trustee Ming Hsieh opposed Ellis’ termination and argues that Ellis did everything he was required to do in his position as Dean of the Marshall School of Business.

“There was no evidence or conclusion from any documents I read that there was racial, sexual or aging discrimination at the Marshall School or by Dean Ellis or his senior administrators Dean Ellis did everything he was required to do. He did it. He deserved dignity,” Hsieh said.

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