USC announces new Keck dean

Exterior of the Keck School of Medicine. The building is tall and the sky is blue.
Dr. Carolyn C. Meltzer currently works at Emory University School of Medicine as chair of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences. (Simon Park | Daily Trojan file photo)

Dr. Carolyn C. Meltzer will serve as the dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC starting March 1, Provost Charles Zukoski announced Tuesday in a communitywide email. 

The Dean Search Advisory Committee, established in June and made up of 16 faculty, staff and students, reviewed more than 130 candidates for the position. The previous dean, Dr. Laura Mosqueda, resigned in August 2020 to advance USC’s geriatric efforts. Steve Shapiro served as interim dean since July 1, replacing interim Dean Narsing Rao.

In an interview with the Daily Trojan, Meltzer said “authentic” and “trauma-informed” leadership is an important step in moving past previous Keck scandals. 

In 2017, USC terminated former Keck Dean Carmen Puliafito following drug use, on-campus partying and keeping company with criminals. A later report found that USC paid Puliafito $1.8 million after his termination. Dr. Rohit Varma, Puliafito’s successor, resigned after less than a year in the position following a report that he sexually harassed a researcher when he worked as a junior professor. 

“I’m committed to supporting all our people and trying to prevent future issues,” Meltzer said. “I don’t tolerate this behavior very well, especially when something impacts another colleague.”

Meltzer currently works at Emory University School of Medicine, where she has served as chair of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences for nearly 16 years. Meltzer said her position at Keck is an opportunity to apply her skillset from previous roles. 

“The strengths of the institution just seemed right in my wheelhouse,” she said. “I also was very drawn to new leadership that is committed to values-based decision making, and that’s critical for me.”

Meltzer also serves as chief diversity and inclusion officer and executive associate dean of faculty academic advancement, leadership, and inclusion at Emory. In her upcoming dean role, she hopes to also bring her ideas about diversity, equity and inclusion.

“In a world in which we don’t consider health equity, part of the quality outcomes of healthcare isn’t fully informed, so I hope to bring that lens,” Meltzer said. 

Upon assuming the position, Meltzer intends to develop a plan that includes investing in translational research to improve human health and working with educators.

“I’m going to spend the beginning listening a lot and learning what’s important to folks,” she said. “I will not approach a strategic plan without having it be broadly informed.”