The more you talk with Joann Strobbe, who on May 1 became the chief financial officer and senior associate dean of finance and administration for the School of Medicine, the more you realize just how important it is for her to be a builder.
For nearly 29 years she was 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.
The chance to come to UNLV really intrigued me. How often do you get to be part of starting a new 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. 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.
What do you see as your initial key challenges?
The first and most important challenge I’ll face is we have to get fully accredited. 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 of 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. Fortunately, founding Dean Barbara 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. Of course, financing a new building for the medical school is another major challenge.
What inspired you to get into your field?
I work in finance, but I like being able to see my work help people. I get to see students fulfill their dreams and enter the medical field. Through the school’s clinical arm, UNLV Medicine, I get to see patients get the help they need. I find that very satisfying.
Where did you grow up and what was that like?
I grew up about 30 or 40 miles outside of Chicago in the small town of Romeoville. It was both good and bad. Everybody looked out for you, but everybody also knew everyone’s business. For a young girl there wasn’t much shopping or things to do so it was really a big deal to take the train into Chicago. Growing up in Illinois, I got to see my grandparents, who were Lithuanian immigrants, every summer. They lived in the small town of Benld that just had a couple thousand people. It seemed like everybody was Lithuanian, the butcher, the baker. Today, you don’t see the culture of heritage so clearly defined.
Tell us about a time in your life when you’ve been daring
I was in my 20s and some of my friends talked me into going skydiving for my birthday. I’m not sure I’d ever do it again. Once I got up in the plane, they wouldn’t let me change my mind. I screamed a lot when I jumped.
Tell us about an object in your office that has significance for you and why it is significant
It’s a picture of me on rounds with a surgeon. Though I’ve worked in finance for medical schools, I wanted to see what my work helped enable. Knowing that my work helps people get the medical care they need is important to me.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I like to read mysteries, serial killer books. I read Patricia Cornwell’s crime novels and the work of Kathy Reichs, whose work inspired the television series Bones. I find reading their work engrossing and relaxing. I also like the fiction of Carl Hiassen and Randy Wayne White, both writers who set their work in Florida.
If I couldn’t work in my current field, I would like to….
Own a restaurant. My significant other is a good amateur cook. He would cook Asian and new American dishes with many spices and I would be the greeter and bookkeeper. I think it would fun meeting new people that way.