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Mike Griffin, former chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, is now overseeing the task force on USF consolidation.

Tampa Bay

Mike Griffin to head USF consolidation task force following Jonathan Ellen’s resignation

The Florida Board of Governors appointed real estate executive Mike Griffin chair of the University of South Florida’s Consolidation Planning Study and Implementation Task Force Thursday.

Griffin will replace Dr. Jonathan Ellen who resigned earlier this week from both the task force and as CEO of All Children’s Hospital.

The task force oversees recommendations for phasing out separate accreditations at USF St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee as the school moves toward a single accreditation.

“I have complete confidence that this task force will continue its forward momentum under Mike Griffin’s leadership,” said Ned Lautenbach, chair of the Board of Governors. “The State University System remains committed to a seamless consolidation for USF and its students.”

Griffin, former chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the USF alumni associated, was appointed to the consolidation task force when it was established earlier this year, and has served as chair of the task force subcommittee on student success, academic programs and campus identity.  He is senior managing director for Savills Studley Occupier Services.

“USF is an incredible asset to the Tampa Bay region that will only become stronger through the consolidation process,” Griffin said.  “Our task force has already spent countless hours listening to the university community, gathering public input and exchanging ideas with local leaders.  We have built great momentum and I look forward to finalizing our recommendations soon.”

Task force leadership had been up in the air this week after Ellen’s abrupt resignation from both of his leadership roles at USF and All Children’s Hospital. Ellen resigned amid controversy surrounding reports that the children’s hospital had provided negligent care to heart patients that led to an unusually high death rate – the highest in Florida in 2017 – and some cases that left children permanently disabled after avoidable surgical complications.

Griffin resigned his own board position on Port Tampa Bay earlier this year to focus efforts on USF.

“Mike is a proven leader with a well-established record of achievements across the entire Tampa Bay region and the state of Florida.  He is the ideal person to chair the task force as they complete their recommendations,” said USF Board of Trustees Chair Brian Lamb.

In addition to Griffin’s new leadership appointment, Lamb appointed Debbie Sembler to the task force to fill Ellen’s vacant seat.

“As a former trustee and campus board chair, [Sembler] brings tremendous knowledge, experience and perspective to this role,” Lamb said.

Florida law requires the 13-member consolidation task force to submit its recommendations to the USF Board of Trustees by February 15, 2019.  After considering the recommendations of the task force, the USF Board of Trustees must adopt and submit an implementation plan to the Board of Governors no later than March 15, 2019. The school must be fully integrated under one accreditation by July 1, 2020.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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