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New USF Health Morsani College Of Medicine Opens In Downtown Tampa

Exterior upper floors of a building
The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute opened in the Water Street Tampa district Wednesday. DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

When students at the University of South Florida return to school Monday, most members of the Morsani College of Medicine will no longer be attending classes on the Tampa campus.

Instead, they’ll be learning in a new state-of-the-art facility downtown.  

The formal opening of the new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute took place Wednesday, 900 days after ground was broken.

“The vast bulk of their first two years, (students) will be in this building, so it really does create a home for them,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood, the dean of the college and senior vice president for USF Health.

“It is our bold vision to be national leaders in collaboration and innovation, training the next generation of physicians and pioneering world-changing discoveries,” he added. “There is nowhere better to do this than in downtown Tampa.”

It’s one of the first anchor buildings to open in Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik’s $3 billion redevelopment of the Water Street district.

Woman speaks at podium while students stand in background
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor addresses the audience while USF Health Morsani College of Medicine students look on in the background. DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said the new building is just one step in an effort to transform the city from the ground up.

“We are creating a strong, innovative, and exciting city where generations of Tampanians want to come work, live, and play, and we are also attracting individuals from around the world," said Castor.

Second year student Kimberley Menezes applied to all of Florida's medical schools – but the new structure helped her make up her mind.

"It was a no-brainer, especially coming for a second look and seeing the plans for the new building and seeing what it's going to look like, seeing downtown Tampa, I stopped interviewing after I got in here because I was ready,” Menezes said with a laugh.

The 395,000 square foot facility is estimated to cost $173 million – about $12 million under budget, according to Lockwood.

While the Florida Legislature provided about $110 million toward construction over five years, private donations and cooperative agreements helped bridge some of the difference.

A $20 million donation from philanthropists Carol and Frank Morsani in 2011 started the effort towards a new medical school.

lobby of building
The lobby of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute. DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

In 2014, the focus moved to downtown Tampa when Vinik and his Strategic Property Partners group donated an acre of property that eventually ended up as the site of the building.

In 2019, USF struck a $20 million deal with its primary teaching hospital, nearby Tampa General Hospital. TGH will lease space in the building, including an urgent care clinic on the first floor and clinical practice space on the ninth floor.

Also last year, philanthropists Jugal and Manju Taneja donated $10 million to the College of Pharmacy that now bears their name.

Students from that school are tentatively scheduled to start taking classes in the new building in fall 2021, a few months after the Physician Assistant program moves in May 2021.

About 30 to 35 Heart Institute primary researchers will begin their phased move in February 2020.

According to USF estimates, the building is projected to have a local and statewide economic impact of more than $70 million.

We’ll have more on the new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute on next week’s University Beat.

officials on stage cut a ceremonial ribbon
USF officials are joined by Frank and Carol Morsani in the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the college that bears their name. DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.
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