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Strategic Plan meeting focuses on USF Health

President Judy Genshaft and other University leaders talked with a group of faculty and administrators Thursday at the College of Nursing in a conversation that centered on the way USF Health’s research, infrastructure and faculty needs to fit into the future vision of the University.

During the meeting – the second in a series of seven town hall-style gatherings aimed at eliciting feedback from faculty, administrators and students on USF’s 2007-2012 Strategic Plan – Genshaft, Trustee Lee Arnold and other administrators fielded questions about the way grant funds would be distributed and how the University plans to attract faculty and top researchers to USF Health.

“We’re here to talk about the vision of USF,” said Stephen Klasko, vice president of Health Sciences. “Not what it was, not what it is, but what it will be in the next five years. Our vision is very much attainable.”

Many of the faculty and administrators came from the three branches of USF Health – the Colleges of Nursing, Medicine and Public Health – and though pointed questions were asked, most in attendance said the plan addressed the needs of their colleges well.

“The president is being very open and very sharing with what I think is a remarkable vision,” said Patricia Burns, dean of the College of Nursing. “This is a University on the move.”

Some in attendance raised questions about a strategy outlined in the plan that calls for restructuring the indirect costs associated with grants. For every $1 million in grant money awarded to USF research projects, $550,000 goes toward funding and $450,000 goes toward associated indirect costs, such as building new facilities and purchasing new technology.

A slice of this indirect cost also goes to the USF researcher who brought in the grant.

Some researchers asked whether this restructuring might mean less money for them and fewer incentives for top researchers to come to USF.

Arnold said the central concern was furthering USF’s research program, and the total effect of any decision to remodel grant distributions requires scrutiny.

“With every opportunity, grant, proposal that presents itself, you have to ask, ‘Does it accrete positively?'” Arnold said. “If it doesn’t, then it shouldn’t fly.”

Genshaft also said a balance should be struck between providing incentives for faculty and repairing necessary infrastructure.

“Our infrastructure isn’t what it needs to be, and we know that,” Genshaft said. “But we hear your concerns. We’re not here to take down anything, we’re here to build up.”

Those in attendance also asked about attracting new faculty to medical fields with shortages, especially nursing.

“Those of us from nursing who are retiring aren’t being replaced,” said Theresa Beckie, a professor and researcher in the College of Nursing.

Much of the Strategic Plan focuses on positioning USF for membership in the Association of American Universities, an invitation-only organization of 60 leading research universities in the United States and two in Canada.

Part of this strategy involves positioning USF for membership in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), to which more than 90 percent of AAU members belong.

USF meets nearly all the criteria for membership – including more than two million holdings between USF Tampa and its satellite campuses – but to place itself in the most competitive position possible, it needs to hire a dean to coordinate the efforts of all the libraries, Genshaft said.

An enrollment increase in the College of Medicine from 120 to 200, pending approval by the Legislature, was also discussed. Like most of the issues facing USF Health and research, the decision hinges on whether USF has the money to accommodate the additional students, Genshaft said.”Clearly it’s a resource problem,” said Genshaft.