Board of Governors approves request to build new USF medical school in downtown Tampa
Proposal now advances to Florida Legislature and Governor
Tampa, FL (Feb. 19, 2015) — The Florida Board of Governors today approved the request by the University of South Florida to build its new USF Health medical school and heart institute in downtown Tampa. The unanimous vote to fund the proposal – $17 million from the state this year as part of a $62-million multi-year request — is a key step in making the vision for a downtown Morsani College of Medicine-Heart Institute a reality. For more information, visit: http://www.usf.edu/downtown/
The project still requires the approval of the Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott. If it gains that support, the facility would become an anchor for the plan by Tampa Bay Lightning owner and USF partner Jeff Vinik to create an economically thriving downtown waterfront environment where people could live, work and play.
“We are so pleased,” said USF President Judy Genshaft, speaking to media following the vote. “We worked very hard. There’s a lot of academic merit as well as economic merit to moving the medical school and the heart institute downtown.”
“We are very grateful that the Florida Board of Governors recognizes the merits of this project to advance USF’s core academic and research missions, while at the same time supporting our community,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine. “Now we look forward to building additional support with the Legislature and Governor Scott.”
In remarks to the Board before the vote, Dr. Lockwood emphasized that the proposed downtown facility would be built with a combination of state and private funding. “We are leveraging private support to gain a superior facility,” he said.
The new facility would be located at the corner of Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive, on land donated to the university by Mr. Vinik.
The City of Tampa and Community Redevelopment Agency have committed funding to restore the surrounding street grid and make needed infrastructure improvements to support the area’s redevelopment.
“We are thrilled with today’s news from Tallahassee and as a ‘partner’ with the University of South Florida on the project, we thank the Florida Board of Governors for their unanimous vote today,” Vinik said in a statement. “We look forward to making the Morsani School of Medicine and the accompanying Heart Institute one of the major anchors in our development district. 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.”
“Today, thanks to the support of the Florida Board of Governors, we can say with confidence that the University of South Florida Morsani School of Medicine and the USF Heart Institute will call downtown Tampa home,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a statement.
“This is a big, bold collaboration. It takes imagination, public and private financial commitment, and tenacity to see a vision as dynamic as this through to fruition. And, it’s because of the University of South Florida’s continued commitment to academic excellence that building them a new facility with immediate access to Tampa General Hospital and our urban core is the right choice.”
After a delay in the vote by the BOG last month, leadership from USF and USF Health prepared a comprehensive business plan with detailed supporting materials. The plan documents how the proposed facility would maximize the state’s investment in USF’s core mission by leveraging the university’s ability to attract the best and brightest students, the most talented faculty and the country’s leading research scientists.