New vice president of professionalism, ethics to oversee University procedures

Alumnus Michael Blanton will serve as the vice president of the Office of Professionalism and Ethics after working closely with the University as a source of outside counsel. He previously served as a temporary Los Angeles Superior Court traffic judge. (Photo from USC News)

USC has announced plans to open an Office of Professionalism and Ethics, an office dedicated to consolidating and improving current University procedures for handling complaints and criticism, according to USC News.  

Alumnus and attorney Michael Blanton will serve as the vice president of the new office.

Blanton, who worked as a source of outside counsel for the University, was offered a position to oversee USC’s Office for Athletic Compliance. Blanton has also served as a temporary Los Angeles Superior Court traffic judge.

USC decided to create the office after administrators realized the need for an efficient system to address problems within the university, according to Blanton.

The office’s official purpose was first referenced in a May 2018 community letter sent by former president C. L. Max Nikias.

“[USC] identified areas in which change was needed and structures needed updating … [to] manage investigations more efficiently,” Blanton said in an email to the Daily Trojan.

The office aims to streamline and update USC’s processes for taking complaints and conducting investigations at all levels on its campuses, he said.

“The goal [of the office] is to ensure that information is centralized at the university so nothing falls through the cracks, and that information is available when decisions need to be made,” Blanton said.

Blanton hopes the office’s centralized tracking system will help identify trends in complaints and prompt a swifter response.

“Drawing not only on my experience here at USC, but also from my nearly 20 years of litigating cases, my professional background provided a good foundation for my new role,” Blanton said. “Wearing the hats of advocate and investigator to objective fact finder will serve me well.”

The Office of Professionalism and Ethics will have a distinct role, and will not replace any other institution. Blanton hopes to measure the office’s success through gathering community input after a few years of operation.

“I’d like to survey students, faculty and staff and ask them, ‘Do you feel more confident about how complaints about misconduct are handled at this university?’” Balton said. “If the answers are mostly, ‘Yes,’ then I’ll know we’re on the right track.”