The All Children’s doctor leading USF’s consolidation has resigned. Now what?

Dr. Jonathan Ellen resigned as CEO of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Tuesday, soon after a Tampa Bay Times investigation found the mortality rate for pediatric heart surgeries there had climbed to the highest in the state.
Dr. Jonathan Ellen listens to feedback from the University of South Florida Board of Trustees during his Dec. 4 presentation on the university system's plans to consolidate. Ellen resigned Tuesday as CEO of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital following a Tampa Bay Times investigation. He also leads USF's consolidation task force. Now state officials are deciding on next steps. [TAILYR IRVINE | Times]
Dr. Jonathan Ellen listens to feedback from the University of South Florida Board of Trustees during his Dec. 4 presentation on the university system's plans to consolidate. Ellen resigned Tuesday as CEO of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital following a Tampa Bay Times investigation. He also leads USF's consolidation task force. Now state officials are deciding on next steps. [TAILYR IRVINE | Times]
Published December 12 2018
Updated December 12 2018

A week ahead of its next meeting, the team leading the University of South Florida's efforts to consolidate appears to be without a leader.

Dr. Jonathan Ellen, named chairman of USF's consolidation task force in March, stepped down as CEO of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital on Tuesday.

The move followed a Tampa Bay Times investigation that found the hospital's mortality rate for heart surgeries tripled between 2015 and 2017, becoming the highest of any pediatric heart surgery program in the state last year.

HEARTBROKEN: Johns Hopkins promised to elevate All Children's Heart Institute. Then patients started to die at an alarming rate.

The state's Board of Governors, which appointed Ellen to the key consolidation post at USF, was "in the process of determining next steps" to replace him Wednesday afternoon, spokeswoman Brittany Wise said in an email. She provided no further details.

USF spokesperson Adam Freeman said the state board, which oversees Florida's 12 public universities, is solely responsible for finding the St. Petersburg doctor's replacement. The university will stay out of it, he said.

As chairman of the task force, Ellen was charged with leading the USF system through consolidation of its three campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota.  For years, the locations have operated under separate accreditations, but USF is now required by the state to combine them as a single university by the summer of 2020.

RELATED: USF faces a reality as it prepares to consolidate: This is going to be hard.

Ellen led 12 members on the task force itself, as well as three subcommittees beneath it related to student access, shared governance and transparency, and student success, academic programs and campus identity.

He gave his most recent update on consolidation plans to USF officials on Dec. 4, promising trustees that the general ideas the task force has so far would be honed into more concrete recommendations by Feb. 15, when he was due to report back to them.

Before that, the task force will convene twice more — on a conference call next week on Dec. 19, and in person in Tampa on Jan. 23. Who will lead the group remains to be determined.

Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] Follow @mareevs.

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