New name symbolizes future vision

People like to describe USF Health as a place on the move, where its leaders and teachers and students and researchers are always rushing towards the next idea, hurrying to fix the health of a future they just can’t reach fast enough.

But at noon on Thursday, the entire campus stopped and took a deep breath.

And together, students and teachers and trustees and friends celebrated a historic moment and a medical school forever changed.

Now the school on the move has a new name: the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

For those there to mark the day, it means the lofty goals and ambitions of the college and those who inhabit it have suddenly become closer and easier to reach.

“USF Health is on an entirely new trajectory,” said Trustee Sherrill Tomasino. “I don’t think there’s another school in the country that has the momentum that we’ve got.”

Medical students Cara Sullivan and Joshua Robertson present a student proclamation to Carol and Frank Morsani.

“It will be the most competitive of all the schools in Florida,” said first-year student John Hoenemeyer. “It’s going to be unparalleled.”

USF President Judy Genshaft and the Board of Trustees changed the name Thursday morning in recognition of the $37 million that Carol and Frank Morsani have given to USF Health, including a new $20 million gift they announced Thursday.

“This is the most fantastic special announcement ever,” President Genshaft told the board. “Carol and Frank Morsani have given us a fantastic opportunity to shape healthcare in the Tampa Bay region and beyond.”

It was a day that linked generations together, as Frank Morsani told the crowd about how he and his wife have reached their eighth decade and still want to inspire a passion for excellence. He was followed on stage by a medical student just starting his career. Joshua Robertson chose USF Health because “it’s a student-centered campus,” in the very DNA of the campus. When he met the Morsanis, he realized why they belong here.

“They’re student-centered people,” he said.

Faculty, students, staff and friends jammed the south courtyard of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine for Thursday’s announcement.

It was a day packed with applause and sprinkled with tears. Frank Morsani became so emotional speaking to the Board of Trustees that Carol Morsani took over reading his speech for a few moments while he took a few sips of water and composed himself.

“This can be a transformative investment for this community,” Morsani said. “For this university, and for mankind.”

A few minutes later, Dr. Stephen Klasko, dean of the new college and CEO of USF Health, choked up himself, joking that he needed to borrow Morsani’s water bottle.

“Our vision for the Morsani College of Medicine could not be more clear or dramatic,” he said. “We intend to be the leaders of the revolution that will transform the future of health care education and health care delivery …Not by changing the existing reality, but by creating a new model that makes the old model obsolete.”

Carol and Frank Morsani were all smiles once the speeches were done.

It was a day to talk about dreams, as USF Health students and leaders talked about what could happen in the new medical education center that will be built with the gift. Student Michael Manasterski said he’s thrilled to hear that the university will be able to expand programs to offer free care for the community in the building.

“This is just such an emotional day,” said Dr. Charles Paidas, associate dean for Graduate Medical Education. “The legacy of being one of the 26 medical schools with a family name…that name will be on all the diplomas, GME and undergraduate. What a remarkable thing, as a family, to do that.”

President Judy Genshaft shared a laugh with Carol and Frank Morsani.

It was a day to talk about ideas, because as part of their gift, the Morsanis are setting up the Stephen K. Klasko Institute for an Optimistic Future in Healthcare. The institute will be home to some of the College’s most creative projects, from the PaperFree Florida electronic records initiative to Bringing Science Home, which helps people with chronic diseases live more optimistic lives.

“It’s a synergistic relationship,” said Dr. John Sinnott, associate dean of USF Medicine International, of the shared philosophies that bond Frank Morsani and Dr. Klasko. “A great future always comes from great minds. This is going to change academic medicine, not just in Florida, but nationally.”

Frank Morsani and Dr. Stephen Klasko share their vision for the Morsani College of Medicine.

It was a day that ended with a promise for the future.

“Whether you think we’re innovative, visionary or crazy, those are the things we need to look at,” Dr. Klasko said. “Those crazy, innovative ideas will continue. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

– Story by Lisa Greene, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications