Two medical-department chairmen leave USF

Two members of USF’s College of Medicine are leaving the university, a loss for a school that has undergone several sudden changes in the last year.

Robert Christensen, chairman of the pediatrics department, and Robert Clark, chairman of the radiology department, will leave to pursue other opportunities. The positions were vacated just days after USF confirmed its anesthesiology residency program had been put on probation by a national accrediting agency.

In October 2003, Robert Daugherty resigned as dean of the college after USF President Judy Genshaft made him return campaign contribution checks he obtained from medical school staff.

But interim Dean Robert Belsole says the school is not in turmoil; rather that it is going through a normal transition process.

“Medicine is changing quite a bit, and we’re being faced with changes in the clinical arena as well as the research arena, and you have to be on top of things, make up for things that come down from funding sources,” Belsole told the St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday.

Christensen, who also served as physician-in-chief of All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, accepted a job with Intermountain Health Care that offered him more research potential, USF officials told the Times.

Belsole said Christensen had been looking for a new job since several members of his lab research staff left.

According to a faculty memo, Clark stepped down as chair because he changed jobs at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, becoming the clinical director of the new Molecular Imaging Laboratory.

Belsole told the Times that, while former radiology chairman Martin Silbiger has been asked to serve as interim radiology chairman, the departments could have to go without permanent leadership for some time due to uncertainties regarding his authority.

Because he is only interim dean, Belsole said, he is unsure if he would appoint permanent chairs.

Belsole also decided that he would probably apply for the permanent dean position, pointing out that USF is not alone in its search for a new medical dean, saying 90 of the nation’s 126 medical schools have hired new deans since 2000.