Health trustees endorse downtown med school

If approved, the 12-story medical school building would be around a mile from Tampa General Hospital and the Amalie Arena in downtown. Special to the Oracle.

USF took the first formal step toward a downtown medical school Thursday after the Board of Trustees (BOT) Health Workshop unanimously voted to recommend the move to the full board. 

A sketching of the project showed a 12-story Morsani College of Medicine with floors for dining, classrooms, laboratories, a library and a clinic. It also featured a parking garage across the street, able to fit an estimated 1,750 vehicles.

Charles Lockwood, senior vice president of USF Health, gave a presentation that argued a downtown medical school would mark the university as a major player in national health education. 

The proximity to Tampa General Hospital was presented as beneficial to the educational relationship with USF Health’s major teaching

In addition to attracting skilled researchers and students to the waterfront building, an increase in economic development for the area was also cited as a reason for the move. 

The presentation stated that the disadvantages of relocating include redundancies – such as another library – and geographical division.

The push for the project in downtown came after Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik offered to donate an acre of land downtown for the Morsani College of Medicine and the USF Health Heart Institute to help renovate the downtown area.

Building the new medical school could cost up to $163 million, of which the university would expect $130 million from state funding and donations. 

The details of where the funding will come from still have a month to be worked out, as the approval given by the BOT at Thursday’s workshop was nonbinding. 

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and USF President Judy Genshaft were also present at the meeting to voice their support for the project. 

If the BOT votes in favor of the project at the official meeting Dec. 4, the project will go to the Board of Governors in January for final approval.