Dr. Charles Lockwood, the new dean of the University of South Florida medical school, is saying all the right things. After being named to the post, Lockwood on Thursday in remarks to reporters put aside any talk of building a stand-alone hospital. He spoke of the importance of innovation and research and of looking for new commercial opportunities. These are encouraging themes from a leader who will shape the region's quality of health care and economic competitiveness.
Lockwood, 59, the dean of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, begins his new job in May, and he already has made an impression in the bay area with his commitment to excellence and consensus-building style. In succeeding the former dean, Dr. Stephen Klasko, who pursued an ambitious agenda for USF over his nine years, Lockwood will need to repair some bridges and follow through on the promise of several Klasko initiatives that are still getting off the ground.
Lockwood sent the right early signals this week by saying that continuing to work with Tampa General Hospital, USF's main teaching partner, made more sense than for the university to build its own academic hospital. That show of confidence should help rebuild a relationship that was strained by Klasko's early desire to build a stand-alone medical center. And Lockwood's focus on medical excellence ties in perfectly with the desire of Tampa General's new president, Jim Burkhart, to explore ways of improving health care outcomes across the bay area. Both leaders should see the potential of using research and clinical care as a means to further training, entice new industry and preserve the region's most advanced safety net hospital.
Lockwood takes over as dean and senior vice president for USF Health at a time of cost-cutting and uncertainty in the health care industry. He'll need to craft a niche and business model for USF's state-of-the-art Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa, a new, virtual training facility that is struggling to meet its goal of being self-supporting. And he'll need to work with political and business leaders across the region as they look to leverage USF's rich base of research and clinical care to market Tampa Bay as a leader in bioscience. Lockwood said he was attracted by the energy at USF. That's the same quality the area needs in the new dean, too.