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University Beat

Klasko is Leaving USF Health with No Regrets

Eric Younghans
USF Health

When USF Health CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko leaves Tampa in September, the longest-serving dean in the history of the USF Morsani College of Medicine will return to his hometown to take his dream job -- and he says he's doing it with no regrets.

Klasko, who announced last week he's leaving USF Health to become the president of Thomas Jefferson University and president/CEO of the Jefferson University Hospital System, spoke to WUSF's University Beat about his decision to move on.

Here are three highlights from the conversation:

1. The draw of 'going home' was too much for Klasko to pass up.

Klasko was born in Philadelphia, and with the exception of the time he spent at USF, he lived in Pennsylvania for all of his life.

"It would have taken a whole lot to have me leave USF. I think the combination of having what arguably is one of the best academic medical center CEO jobs in what was my hometown for 50 of my 59 years certainly made it seem like, 'Well, if this does happen, it was meant to be.'"

He adds that running Jefferson is a dream come true.

"Most kids grew up, wanted to be an astronaut, I wanted to be the President of Jefferson. It's an almost 200-year-old university in Philadelphia, where I spent almost all my life."

2. Any 'issues' between he and Tampa General Hospital weren't as bad as some said.

When asked about reports that conflicts between he and the board of directors of Tampa General Hospital were fraying USF Health's long-term relationship with TGH, Klasko called them "way overblown."

"Our relationship with Tampa General has never been better," he said. "Some very exciting things will be happening between us and Tampa General, I think we'll have the affiliation agreement resolved, hopefully even before I leave."

"At the end of the day, I'm passionate about USF, Tampa General board and leadership is passionate about Tampa General," Klasko added. "I'm not shy in expressing my views -- that works well in Philadelphia, by the way."

3. He's happy with the shape he's leaving USF Health in.

Klasko put together a lengthy list of accomplishments at USF Health during his nine years, including the 38 million dollar CAMLS Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa, a Specialty Care Center in the Villages, and the SELECT (Scholarly Excellence, Leadership Experiences, Collaborative Training) program USF Health set up with Lehigh Valley Health Network (medical school students take two years of classes at the USF Morsani College of Medicine and then work for the Lehigh Valley Network for two years to focus on their clinical education - the 18 members of SELECT's charter class moved to Pennsylvania just last month).

However, he doesn't necessarily view those as his greatest accomplishments.

"My legacy will be the people that I brought here, my legacy will be the great students that we taught that actually have an optimistic future about healthcare, the legacy will be the great cooperation between the different colleges, where we've actually created one of the first single colleges of health in the country, where if you talk to any of our students, they don't tell you they're from the College of Pharmacy or the College of Nursing, they tell you 'I'm a USF Health student.'"

USF President Judy Genshaft will name an interim leader for USF Health when Klasko leaves in September, while a national search for a permanent replacement will begin shortly.

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