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Public Health removes dean

In August, the College of Public Health found a new dean. Just months later that dean is gone and the college will have to start another search for a leader.

Former dean Laurence Branch was in the position for less than a year when on Jan. 27 Robert Daugherty, vice president of the Health Sciences Center, said it would be better if Branch resigned from his position.

Prior to Branch’s arrival, Daugherty said the College of Public Health was in the process of deciding on its priorities in the nursing and medicine along with the Health Sciences Center.

“He had a misfit in terms of his goals for the college and for the greater Health Science Center,” Daugherty said. “They’re not necessarily bad ideas, but they’re not in keeping with where we’re going.”

Daugherty said the College of Public Health will now focus on nursing, medicine and Alzheimer’s patients, which will help the Health Sciences Center move forward in research.

Branch, meanwhile, said he developed a list of strategic goals for the college before taking the position, which was requested by the Board of Trustees and presented to Daugherty during USF’s national search for a new dean.

Some of the goals included establishing endowed professorships by 2007, increasing funding in research and student enrollment, as well as bringing back the alumni association for the college.

“It was indeed a surprise. I had been selected after a national search and was not even in the position for five months,” Branch said. “It is my understanding that putting the welfare of the College of Public Health first and foremost was not consistent with being a team player for the Health Sciences Center.”

Daugherty said other issues he wanted the college to focus on were connecting children’s health care with the Tampa community and focusing on bioterrorism.

“I think that many of those initiatives are outside what most think of traditional college (focus),” Daugherty said. “Well, he wanted to go more in a traditional research way. I guess looking back we could see where there would be this misfit, but we didn’t see this mismatch.”

“He asked me if I would resign, and I said I felt I’d done nothing to (deserve) a resignation,” Branch said. “Then he relieved me of my responsibilities.”

Branch said he has no resentment toward USF and will continue to teach at the university starting in either the summer or fall as a tenured faculty member.

“I’m sorry that I’m not participating in the leadership, but I’m eager to continue in public health professionals,” Branch said.

Stanley Graven will serve as interim dean for the College of Public Health. Stanley was the director of the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Health Sciences and a professor in the department of community and family health in the College of Public Health.