The more you talk with Joann Strobbe, who takes over
May 1 as the new chief financial officer and senior associate dean of finance and administration for the UNLV School of Medicine, the more you realize just how important it is for her to be a builder.
For nearly 29 years she has been a key figure in the building of the business foundations for the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and what came to be known as USF Health —
the schools of medicine, pharmacy, public health and nursing.
When she joined the then 18-year-old USF medical school in 1989 as business manager, the budget was around $90 million with a faculty practice group of about 250 physicians. In 2018 —
Strobbe leaves Tampa as USF Health senior associate vice president and vice dean for finance and administration at Morsani College of Medicine —
she managed a budget exceeding $700 million for USF Health and the medical school had about 900 providers.
“I helped build something up for the community —
I’m proud of that,” Strobbe said recently. “But the chance to come to UNLV really intrigued me —
how often do you get to be part of starting a medical school from scratch? Medical schools don’t open often. To be at the beginning of a new medical school today —
it’s very exciting.”
Originally from Chicago, Strobbe understands what her key challenge will be over the next couple of years.
“The first and most important challenge I’ll face is we have to get fully accredited,” she said. “We have to prove we have the financial and academic resources to accomplish accreditation. There are national requirements. The window for that is a couple years. There is a site review, a lot of pressure. By the time the first students graduate in three years, we want to have accreditation so a degree will be worth something.”
Strobbe sees herself as up to the challenge, having worked at USF for 11 different deans and vice presidents, including interims.
“In each administration you had to prove yourself,” she said, pointing out that such a demanding rite of passage doesn’t allow an individual to coast on past accomplishments. “I know I’ll have a big job, but it’s a very similar role for me. There are many financial components to a medical school that are key to accreditation, including state resources, practice plan resources, research grants, hospital contracts... Fortunately, Dean Atkinson has put together a strong team. It was wise of her to put together a seasoned team, one that has people on it who have been through the process.”
Strobbe also has a pivotal role to play in ensuring that medical school facilities, coupled with information technology, are appropriate. “We want to make sure we have the right infrastructure,” she said.
After completing her bachelor’s degree in economics and master of science degree in higher education administration at Southern Illinois University, Strobbe moved to Tampa in 1989. At USF in the1990s Strobbe hired the first chief information officer for the health sciences center, centralizing the information technology network and services among medicine, nursing and public health.
She also played an integral role in reaching several milestones for USF Health, including: adding a research section to the college of medicine; opening two state-of-the-art outpatient facilities; renaming the medical college the Morsani College of Medicine in honor of philanthropists Frank and Carol Morsani; launching a technologically advanced simulation center; and planning for a new downtown Tampa Morsani College of Medicine.
“We are extremely fortunate to have had a leader with such unique administrative expertise guide us through several of our key milestones,“ said Dr. Charles J. Lockwood, senior vice president for USF health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.
Ron Bates, director of finance for the UNLV School of Medicine, sees the addition of Strobbe at the medical school as an unequivocal positive.
“Joann’s experience and approach will continue to raise the bar of excellence in all we do,” he said. “ When the school of medicine operates effectively in our back-office activity, it allows for our faculty to focus on their expertise, and the students and residents are the beneficiaries. If I would have designed the candidate that would fill this role for the school, Joann Strobbe is the candidate that meets all of my wish list, and so much more. She has many years of experience in a state medical school with a practice plan and a hospital partnership, which means she can add her insight and experience to our processes and decision making. I expect this impact to be immediate.”
Though Strobbe’s fiancé has family in Southern Nevada, she says she still shocked her family when she took on her new challenge at UNLV.
“I love the beach —
I still have a condo on the beach in St. Petersburg, Florida —
and I love the people at USF I worked with,“ she said. “But UNLV gives me something I couldn’t pass up —
a chance to build something from ground zero. That’s something I really want to do.”