Essential Guides
rizzo.jpg lamy.jpg mcohen.jpg alkon.jpg
Albert "Skip" Rizzo, directs the
Virtual Environment Lab
Steven Lany
international relations expert
Marshall Cohen, University Professor Emeritus, Faculty Mediation Officer Paul Alkon, former
Faculty Rights and Responsibilities chair

Essential Guide for
Faculty Seeking Advice and Help


Faculty with problems have many sources of help. Department Chairs and Deans are usually the first people to turn to.

If they can't solve the problem, advice is available from:

  • Faculty Mediation Officers, whose roles are endorsed by both the Academic Senate and Provost. You can contact either Marshall Cohen on the University Park Campus or Peter Conti on the Health Sciences Campus.
  • Academic Senate's Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee, which also offers informal assistance attempting to resolve issues involving colleagues or others, or the President of the Faculty.
  • Vice-Provost for Faculty Affairs, who is always available to talk with faculty.

Specialized help is also available from:

Harassment and Discrimination

If you believe you have been subject to discrimination, harassment or retaliation, please call the Office of Equity and Diversity as soon as possible. (213-740-5086) Similarly, if you learn about discrimination, harassment or retaliation, please report it to that office at once (rather than delaying, or investigating or judging it yourself.)

It might also happen that you yourself some day become the subject of an investigation; if so, don't panic. Investigation of complaints is a good thing; if a complaint is unfounded, the air can be cleared -- if it is substantiated, remedial and corrective measures can be taken. The alleged offender may seek advice from the Academic Senate President and the Senate Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities. For more information, see the section on investigations, below.

Collegial Problem-solving

The Academic Senate's Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities maintains a Panel on Collegial Problem-solving. Its members are available for consultation and informal attempts to resolve disputes or other problems that may arise within departments, either between individuals and the department or among faculty colleagues. It does so on a confidential basis if those concerned wish, except for disclosures required by law or university policy. Panel members do not offer legal advice.


If neither your Dean nor the Faculty Mediation Officer can resolve a problem, you may file a grievance if your rights have been violated. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs is available for consultation. Grievances must be filed at the Academic Senate office within nine months of when you learn of the action violating your rights; forms are available at the Senate office. A hearing is held before a faculty panel of the Committee on Faculty Tenure and Privileges Appeals.


If complaints are made about faculty, faculty rights are protected and facts are investigated through separate processes depending on the subject (as briefly summarized below.)

  • Charges of sexual discrimination, harassment or retaliation are investigated by the Office of Equity and Diversity under the provisions of the Faculty Handbook. The Handbook explains that a designated investigator interviews those with information, and then prepares a report. Both the complainant and the person accused are notified of the conclusions. If a violation of our policies is found, the designated Vice Provost may, as explained in the Handbook, impose sanctions or corrective actions or recommend that the Provost file formal dismissal charges. There is the opportunity to file a grievance about sanctions or corrective actions, which is heard by a faculty committee as described in the Handbook.
  • Charges of threats or violence may be investigated under the policy on Violence in the Workplace by a Threat Assessment Team, whose report may lead the dean to consider whether discipline is appropriate. The behavior may also fall under other policies, and may be dealt with as misconduct.
  • Charges of scientific misconduct are first looked into by an expert committee under the policy on Scientific Misconduct. The committee's report may lead the dean to consider whether discipline is appropriate.
  • Charges of stealing are investigated by the Office of Compliance and Audit, whose report may lead the dean to consider whether discipline is appropriate.
  • Charges of other types of misconduct may lead the dean to consider, after an appropriate thorough inquiry, whether discipline is appropriate.
  • Performance issues are addressed whenever possible through individualized efforts at development, as discussed in the policies on Faculty Evaluation and Individual Development Plans. If the issues rise to the level of neglect of duty or incompetence, the dean may consider whether discipline is appropriate. In cases of job abandonment, salary may be suspended at once, under a process described in the Handbook.

Dismissal proceedings

The Faculty Handbook describes the protections and procedures connected with a recommendation to the Provost to consider dismissal charges, made by a dean for adequate cause or by the designated Vice Provost for sexual harassment. If the Provost files formal dismissal charges, a hearing is held before a faculty panel of the Committee on Faculty Tenure and Privileges Appeals, as described in the Handbook, and the committee makes a recommendation to the President of the University. Appeals of sexual harassment sanctions are also heard by a panel of that committee. The chair of the Academic Senate Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities is available for consultation, and the Faculty Mediation Officer is available for mediation, but mediation is not mandatory. A faculty member may be suspended as part of the initiation of a dismissal action, if the Provost judges that immediate harm is threatened.

USC Policies

Faculty Handbook
Conflicts of Interest and Ethics
Conflicts of Interest in Research
Faculty Evaluation (PDF)
Individual Development Plans(br/> Scientific Misconduct (PDF)
Sexual Harassment
Acts of Violence in the Workplace (PDF)

USC Resources

Academic Senate
Academic Deans and Directors
Center for Excellence in Teaching
Center for Work and Family Life
Office of Compliance
Emergency Planning Office
Office of Equity and Diversity
Faculty Handbook
Faculty Mediation Officer
How to Report Concerns about Accounting or Auditing (PDF)
Mediation by Marshall Cohen (Faculty Forum Newsletter)
Risk Management Services
Workers' Compensation Services
Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
Vice Provost for Research Women in Science and Engineering

Disclaimer: This guide is for information only and is intended as a helpful set of links to the Faculty Handbook and other University Policies. It does not constitute official University policy, nor do linked pages, except for the Faculty Handbook and the Policies web page. Send suggestions for additional resources you would like to see listed to the Office of Faculty Affairs.