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USF nursing school dean steps down, but reason is unclear

Dianne Morrison-Beedy left the high-profile position on June 30.
Published Jul. 23, 2016

TAMPA — The dean of the University of South Florida's College of Nursing has resigned, and no one at the school will say exactly why.

Dianne Morrison-Beedy, who also was a vice president of USF Health, officially left the job June 30. In her resignation letter, she wrote that the decision came after a conversation with USF medical school dean Charles Lockwood in which Lockwood expressed a "desire for the college to move in another direction."

Morrison-Beedy will now work as a tenured faculty professor in the nursing college. As dean, she made $362,846 annually. She will make significantly less money as a professor, according to her contract.

For the next year, however, she will continue to receive her dean's pay, minus a $25,000 administrative stipend, while she is on a "professional development'' leave. She also will receive $50,000 to cover research and professional development costs during that time.

USF spokesman Adam Freeman said university practice is to give an administrator one year to prepare for a return to a teaching and research role.

Lockwood declined to comment on why Morrison-Beedy stepped down. Morrison-Beedy, who is out of town, could not be reached for comment.

In an email sent to staff June 10, Lockwood praised her tenure as dean, but gave no reason for her departure except that she resigned to "pursue professional interests and opportunities."

Morrison-Beedy came to USF in 2010 from the University of Rochester. In the six years since, she has been the subject of four ethics complaints submitted to university officials through an online reporting system called EthicsPoint.

All of the complaints were deemed unsubstantiated, three because their anonymous authors declined to follow up with investigator's questions. The complaints alleged an atmosphere of fear and low morale within the College of Nursing, as well as instances of discrimination and harassment.

Donna Petersen, dean of the USF's College of Public Health, was named acting dean of the nursing college on July 1. The university says it will launch a national search for Morrison-Beedy's replacement.

During her years at USF, Morrison-Beedy was inducted into the International Nursing Research Hall of Fame, received an administrator and scholar J. William Fulbright award, received the Tampa Bay Health Care Hero award, was recognized by the Global Nursing Leadership Institute, received the USF Outstanding Faculty Award in 2015 and received two Florida Nursing Association Great 100 Awards.

USF's College of Nursing, which enrolled nearly 2,000 students this summer and more than 2,000 in the spring, is ranked as the top graduate nursing school in Florida by U.S. News and World Report and brings in more National Institutes of Health research funding than any other Florida nursing school.

Contact Anastasia Dawson at adawson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.

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