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BOG approves downtown Morsani College of Medicine


USF is getting in on the development action set to begin in downtown Tampa. On Friday, the Board of Governors (BOG) approved the plan to move the Morsani College of Medicine downtown. 

With new BOG approval, USF expects to open the new facility in August 2019.

The university said in its business plan that the new location for the medical school will attract researchers who are estimated to yield $28 million more in research grants annually as well as new and skilled faculty. 

The location will also allow proximity to Tampa General Hospital, the USF Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation and the new business, residential and entertainment district that Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is set to build in the surrounding area. It will also attract more competitive medical students who chose not to attend USF due to their proximity to Downtown and USF’s lack of medical presence in the area. 

According to the college of medicine’s business plan, the 40-year-old facility is not fully meet the needs of the students, based on their level of work.

“[The Morsani College of Medicine] has limited functionality for information technology, simulation and multimedia needs and is strained to meet the requirements of the modern medical classroom, which emphasizes newer modes of smaller, team-based, technologically intensive, simulation-dependent learning,” the college wrote in the business plan it presented to the BOG.

This effort has been a long time coming. The push to get the relocation effort approved and started began as far back as October of 2014, when a USF Board of Trustee’s (BOT) work group gave a unanimous yes for the project to move forward. In December of 2014, the full USF BOT voted unanimously in favor of the new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Health Institute, and in February of 2015, the BOG approved USF’s request for the project.

In June, Florida legislators secured room in the budget for USF to complete this project. Although funding was denied for the Heart Health Institute, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn stated USF received previous funding from the Legislature for the project and believes USF is ready to plan and design the building. 

The two new health centers will share a building set at the intersection of Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive, a plot of land donated by Vinik, who is currently planning a $1 billion dollar development project for the area around Amalie Arena. According to a press release, Vinik expressed his excitement over the addition to his development. 

“We look forward to making the Morsani School of Medicine and the accompanying Heart Institute one of the major anchors in our development district,” he said. “We envision and embrace the vibrancy that USF and its students, faculty and staff will bring to downtown Tampa. This marks a great step forward,” 

Dr. Charles Lockwood, Morsani College of Medicine dean and senior vice president for USF Health, was also delighted by the decision.

“We are very grateful that the Florida BOG recognizes the merits of this project to advance USF’s core academic and research missions, while at the same time supporting our community,” he said in the release.