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State to USF: Pick Med School Site to Receive $

Oct 9, 2014

Architects' rendering of proposed USF Morsani College of Medicine

If the University of South Florida wants more state money to build a new medical school, they first need to decide where they want to build it.

That was the caveat laid down by the Florida Board of Governors' faculty committee at a meeting in Jupiter Wednesday.

USF officials are considering a number of options, including expanding the current USF Morsani College of Medicine on the Tampa campus or building a new one in downtown Tampa.

USF System President Judy Genshaft, who has talked to Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik about a location in a downtown area he's renovating, says a decision is coming soon.

"We have to do this very thoughtfully, and make sure that it's what's best for the university, as well as the Tampa Bay area and the region and the state. And we will be making a decision within a few months, at least," Genshaft said shortly after returning to campus Wednesday afternoon.

USF is asking for $62 million in state funds over the next three years for the new building, including $17 million in the upcoming session.

There are also questions about the $15.8 million being sought next session for the new USF Health Heart Institute, completing its $50.1 million in state funding. If the new med school is built downtown, would the Institute also be built there?

"It's all a matter of where the location is going to be," Genshaft said. "And if it's on the Tampa campus, really having two separate buildings is not a problem, because we have so much space. But if it is downtown, then we'll probably bring it together."

Medical school and Health Heart funding were two of four big-ticket requests USF presented to the committee Wednesday. The others two included $6 million for a new marine research ship, and $12.3 million for a new College of Business building on the USF Saint Petersburg campus.

Ground will be broken next week on the USFSP Kate Tiedemann College of Business. USF has received $15 million in state funds so far for the project, along with $2 million in private funds. The $10 million donated in September by Pinellas County entrepreneur Kate Tiedemann will go into the college's programs and not towards construction.