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Medical staff optimistic during cuts

Medical faculty members gathered Tuesday to hear the State of the College of Medicine Address, the main topic being the recent wave of educational budget cuts. Speaker Joanne Strobbe, associate dean for business and technology for the College of Medicine said she’s maintained an optimistic perspective throughout the budget cutting process.

“In my opinion, the College of Medicine budget is healthy,” she said.

Strobbe’s comment came despite the announcement made only moments earlier by the college’s dean, Dr. Robert Daugherty, that the cuts have effected the medical program at USF by $2.28 million for the coming fiscal year.

Daugherty said department heads met during a special retreat in December to discuss the budget, and each offered recommendations for cuts in their respective areas and explained the consequences of such reductions. The area most impacted was the basic science department, which includes anatomy, physiology and biology and comprises the first two years of a student’s medical training. Daugherty said 14 jobs were cut from the basic sciences. Strobbe said layoffs were experienced in other areas of the program as well, including clinical science and administration.

College of Medicine spokesman Michael Hoad said most of the layoffs were among biological scientists, researchers who also work lab equipment. Hoad said eliminating biological scientists could possibly have an even longer-term effect for the College of Medicine.

“Research brings in new money, especially if you can get a federal grant,” he said. “(The job cuts among biological scientists) are the most worrisome because it makes it harder for the departments to run their machines (and conduct research).”

“We had to deliver the core education,” Strobbe said in regard to the cuts in basic science. “But this (the cuts) will impact our ability to grow.”

In all, 23 positions were eliminated, the remainder coming from clinical science and administration.

Personnel layoffs in adjusting to the 2002-03 budget were similar to 1992 when eliminating jobs served as the primary solution for abiding to a newly slashed budget, Strobbe said. Strobbe called the budget reductions a legislative action that will “underpin the college’s infrastructure.” But, Strobbe said, although government appropriations comprise 20 percent, approximately $38 million, of the college’s total operating budget, the USF medical program has received an additional $20 million in sources of support, a $9 million increase in grants and contracts and endowment increases of $8 million in the past year. These funds may help to offset the effects of the new budget. Strobbe said no student scholarships and graduate assistant programs would be permanently reduced.

Budget cuts that strip the medical program of more than $2 million are a setback, but Strobbe said that the College of Medicine is undaunted and “wants to restore funding and must commit key legislators (to do so).”

Strobbe said once the new legislative session begins, representatives from the college will campaign and lobby for budget increases.

  • Contact Rachel Pleasantat