Medical College of Georgia President Francis J. Tedesco has filed for early retirement and plans to step down in December 2000.
However, Dr. Tedesco said that he has been asked to stay on longer and the issue is academic until the school's early retirement plan is approved by the Internal Revenue Service. The deadline to file for early retirement is Monday, but the list is not official for seven days, meaning employees can change their minds in that time.
"Assuming the IRS approves the early retirement program and everything goes through perfectly, my intention would be that I would retire December 2000," Dr. Tedesco said. "I say all of that, but I've already been asked to stay longer than that."
He would not say who asked him to stay longer.
Dr. Tedesco, 55, has been president of MCG since July 1, 1988, and a faculty member since 1978. He also served as interim dean of the School of Medicine from 1986 to 1988.
A search for a successor probably would not be considered until after the IRS rules on the early retirement plan, Dr. Tedesco said.
"That could take three months, that could take six months," he said. "This is my personal bias but I don't believe it's going to be on anyone's radar screen until after the IRS makes their ruling."
Thomas Allgood Sr. of Augusta, a member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, said much of what happens next depends on what Dr. Tedesco decides to do. But he said the Regents did not necessarily have to wait for the IRS ruling to start the search process. Once the full list of early retirees is given to the regents, and if Dr. Tedesco is on it, "I would imagine there would be a special meeting of the executive committee" to discuss it, Mr. Allgood said. A successor would be sought nationwide in "as broad a search as we can get," he said.
The early retirement program is part of the effort to wipe out a $22 million budget deficit at the school. Of the roughly 800 employees eligible, Dr. Tedesco said, he thought about 80 percent were taking it, though that won't be clear until the list is official.
"It's really a humane downsizing," Dr. Tedesco said. The school's hospital and clinics are also in the process of being put under a nonprofit operating company, MCG Health Inc. "This is going to be a challenging but very exciting time. We have to see how to re-engineer our institution to make that all work together."
Those issues, not retirement, will be his major focus, he said.
Many people have talked to him about what he will do after he retires, and Dr. Tedesco said he was approached by members of Medical College of Georgia Foundation Inc. about being a consultant and continuing his work with potential donors he has known during his tenure.
"He would be very helpful to continue the dialogue and cultivation of potential donors he's known through the years," said James Osborne, executive director of the foundation. Dr. Osborne also said he is taking early retirement to potentially work as a full-time manager of the foundation, which he does as part of his duties now.
The campus at MCG has changed dramatically during Dr. Tedesco's tenure, with the building of the Ambulatory Care Center, the Specialized Care Center, the Interdisciplinary Research Facility and the Children's Medical Center, among others. Major initiatives were begun in telemedicine and genetic research.
But he is proudest of the students.
"I think our students are the best caliber they've ever been," Dr. Tedesco said. "Our students are world class."
While acknowledging some problems during those years, such as a scandal involving money diverted by MCG researchers, Mr. Allgood praised Dr. Tedesco's tenure.
"I think he's advanced MCG greatly," Mr. Allgood said. "We've had some difficult times while he was on his watch but you can't isolate any one person for that. On the whole, he has been an outstanding president."
Retirement next December would mean finding a new home to stay in Augusta. But first, a more momentous and more enjoyable event -- the marriage in May of his daughter Jennifer.
"For my wife, (Luann) and I, our personal focus is getting prepared for the wedding," Dr. Tedesco said. "That is a big job."
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213.
Name: Dr. Francis J. Tedesco
Occupation: President of Medical College of Georgia
Born: Derby, Conn.
Education: Fairfield University, St. Louis University School of Medicine
Career: Joined MCG in 1978 as associate professor and chief of the section of gastroenterology, promoted to professor in 1981. Served as acting, then permanent vice president for clinical activities in 1984. President of American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy May 1985 to May 1986. Acting dean of the School of Medicine from 1986-88, before assuming the presidency July 1, 1988.
Awards: Numerous for contributions to endoscopy; Outstanding School of Medicine Faculty Award, MCG; Alumni Merit Award, St. Louis University School of Medicine; Spirit of Georgia Award from Georgia Economic Developers Association.
Family: Married to Luann; a daughter, Jennifer