Dr. Ronald P. Kaufman, who molded the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Public Health into the University of South Florida Health Sciences Center, died this week after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 73.
Dr. Kaufman served the university in several roles spanning more than 13 years. He encouraged teamwork and helped lay the foundation for the health sciences center. He was USF's first vice president for health sciences from 1987 to 1994.
"Dr. Kaufman was the first vice president and he renamed the medical center as the health sciences center to acknowledge the then-new College of Public Health," said Dr. Robert M. Daugherty, dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for Health Sciences.
Under Dr. Kaufman's guidance, the college opened a second campus on Davis Islands, designed the USF Physicians Group and developed the College of Public Health, Daugherty said.
Dr. Kaufman was the physician executive director for USF Physicians Group from 1996 to 2000. His most recent work included stints as division director of Medical Practice Management, senior medical adviser in the College of Medicine and professor in the College of Public Health.
Dr. Kaufman's tenure also drew controversy to the college. Soon after he arrived, the Department of Orthopaedics disbanded, and some worried the medical school would be placed on probation. In the end, though, Dr. Kaufman challenged the probation threat and won.
"He wasn't afraid to ask the tough question or afraid to ask why," said Brian Smith, executive director of the USF Physicians Group. "He provided a lot of wisdom and insight."
Dr. Kaufman also had an affinity for golf.
"He played every weekend that I knew him," said Smith, who knew Dr. Kaufman for more than 10 years. "I was always jealous."
Before coming to USF, Dr. Kaufman served as vice president for medical affairs and executive dean at George Washington University Medical Center since 1976. He was a member of the management team that treated President Reagan after he was wounded in an attempted assassination.
Dr. Kaufman received his bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., in 1951, and his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, specializing in internal medicine.
Survivors include his wife, Beth, and three daughters.
In lieu of flowers, his family requests gifts to the Ronald P. Kaufman, MD, Memorial Scholarship Fund in the College of Medicine. Checks should be made payable to the USF Foundation and sent to the HSC Development Office, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., MDC 70, Tampa, FL 33612. For more information, call (813) 974-3676.