Chairman appointed to task force created to oversee USF consolidation

Dr. Jonathan Ellen is the president and vice dean of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. He wrote a letter in favor of USF consolidation due to the benefits he said it may have for the St. Petersburg campus. ORACLE PHOTO/CHAVELI GUZMAN

USF consolidation is progressing after the creation of a task force and the appointment of a chairman.

Dr. Jonathan Ellen, president and vice dean of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, was named chairman of the USF Consolidation Planning, Study and Implementation Task Force on Monday by the Board of Governors (BOG).

The BOG is responsible for overseeing the 12 public universities in Florida.

This task force will be responsible for submitting recommendations to the USF Board of Trustees (BOT) by Feb. 15, 2019 and its other responsibilities include: engaging faculty, developing research capacities at each of the USF campuses and focusing on providing the means for a seamless transition during the merger process, according to a BOG press release.   

Brittany Wise, a spokesperson for the BOG, was unable to answer specific questions about why Ellen was appointed beyond what was stated in the press release.

According to the press release, “Dr. Ellen is a visionary leader at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, transforming the facility from a regional referral center to a pediatric academic health system and national leader in research, teaching and patient care.”

Ned Lautenbach, chair of the BOG, said in the press release that “Dr. Ellen has an excellent track record of leadership at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and is well regarded by those who have worked with him. He will play a critical role in ensuring that USF’s transition happens smoothly and efficiently and that it further improves service to students.”

While it remains unclear what connection a top hospital administrator would have to an educational task force, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Ellen wrote a letter in favor of the merger stating, “A merger would boost St. Petersburg's research capacities and ability to recruit top faculty and post-doctoral students … And it would give students more opportunities in a broader array of programs.”