State higher education officials have named a new leader for the team developing recommendations for the University of South Florida's consolidation.
Tampa business leader Mike Griffin, who was already serving as a member of the Consolidation Task Force, replaces Dr. Jonathan Ellen, who stepped down as CEO of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Tuesday.
Ellen's resignation from the hospital came soon after a Tampa Bay Times investigation found the mortality rate for pediatric heart surgeries there had tripled in recent years.
The doctor resigned as chairman of the task force Tuesday night via text message to Marshall M. Criser III, chancellor of the State University System, according to system spokeswoman Brittany Wise.
"For obvious reasons, it's best for everyone if I resign as chair of the USF consolidation task force," the text read. "I am so sorry for any problems this causes but you all got this. Thank you for the opportunity."
Griffin, former chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, is the senior managing editor for Savills Studley Occupier Services, a commercial real estate firm with an office in Tampa. He is a graduate of USF, where he served two terms as student body president.
In a news release by the Board of Governors, which appointed Ellen to head the task force in March, chairman Ned Lautenback welcomed Griffin as the group's new leader.
"I have complete confidence that this task force will continue its forward momentum," he said. "The State University System remains committed to a seamless consolidation for USF and its students."
Since earlier this year, Griffin has served as head of a task force subcommittee focused on student success, academic programs and campus identify. That role will be filled by Debbie Sembler, a former USF trustee.
Quoted in the news release, Griffin noted that the task force has already clocked many hours gathering community input related to consolidation.
"We have built great momentum and I look forward to finalizing our recommendations soon," he said.
Florida law requires that the 13-member task force submit final recommendations regarding consolidation to the USF board of trustees by Feb. 15. Then, officials will finalize plans and submit them to the Board of Governors by March 15.
Contact Megan Reeves at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @mareevs.