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FSU College of Medicine faculty member reprimanded after sexual misconduct complaints

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Dr. Leslie Beitsch, renowned in the field, is also the former deputy secretary of health at the Florida Department of Health, has held various positions at the department and sits on several committees.

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Florida State University’s College of Medicine. (Photo: Hali Tauxe/Democrat)

A Florida State University dean reprimanded a high-ranking chair within the College of Medicine after an investigation into sexual misconduct complaints by the school’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance.

In separate interviews with lead investigator Amber Wagner, an FSU human resources administrator, three women who worked at the college reported what they perceived to be unwelcome sexual advances from Dr. Leslie Beitsch, chair of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine at the College of Medicine.

Each woman alleged Beitsch touched their thighs while sitting down at various outings. According to the investigation, there was no “collusion” between the women.

The USA TODAY NETWORK–Florida, which recently learned of the year-old case, requested comment from Beitsch this week multiple times over the course of a week. He has not responded. 

Beitsch, who has a medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine and a Harvard Law degree, has been with FSU since 2003. Renowned in the field, Beitsch is also the former deputy secretary of health at the Florida Department of Health, has held various positions at the department and sits on several committees. He is also the former commissioner of health for the State of Oklahoma.

“FSU conducted a full investigation into the allegations and took disciplinary action against the employee as a result,” FSU spokesman Dennis Schnittker wrote in a statement. “The employee was found responsible for a violation of university policy after a thorough and unbiased investigation by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance.”

In an October 2019 written reprimand, College of Medicine Dean John Fogarty wrote the matter “should not be taken lightly,” directed him to a sexual misconduct training session and said a recurrence would result in further disciplinary action.

Schnittker said the investigation was not filed under Title IX, a part of federal law that prohibits sex discrimination and sexual misconduct against students, employees and visitors in educational institutions that receive federal funding, including FSU. The investigation, however, was performed by Wagner, who is also the university’s deputy Title IX coordinator, and the complaints pertain to sexual misconduct and harassment.

Her report, recently provided to the Democrat by a source close to the case, contains a letter of reprimand, transcripts of the interviews with the women, the dean and associate dean, and with Beitsch himself.

Beitsch says he ran his fingers through a woman’s ponytail

In July 2019, a woman who works in a department housed in the same office as Beitsch reported that he asked to meet her for a beer at a local pizzeria one evening after work. She agreed, thinking he was asking to meet to discuss a potential job vacancy or other work-related matter.

In her interview with investigators,

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FSU College of Medicine will mark its 20th anniversary in virtual celebration

Florida State University’s College of Medicine is being recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine as a recipient of the 2020 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

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The College of Medicine, in Tallahassee, is but one of 46 health-professions programs in the country being honored, and this year marks the fourth consecutive year it has landed the coveted award.

This latest award and other accolades are certain to get a mention Friday evening as the college celebrates its 20th anniversary with a virtual celebration. It begins at 7 p.m.



a man wearing a blue shirt: Dr. John P. Fogarty, dean of the FSU College of Medicine


© Florida State
Dr. John P. Fogarty, dean of the FSU College of Medicine

“This medical school was created with a goal of helping to meet health care needs in communities that have traditionally struggled to provide adequate access to care,” College of Medicine Dean John P. Fogarty said in a news release.

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“As we are celebrating our 20th anniversary, this award affirms that we are true to our mission and we are succeeding in producing the physicians Florida – as well as the rest of the U.S. – needs most. That includes our record of producing numerous alumni who now practice in rural parts of the state, especially in Northwest Florida.”

A history of training

The college – located on the western edge of campus – was established in 2000 by the Florida Legislature, and accepted its first class of 30 students in 2001. It was the first new medical school in the nation in more than 20 years. 

It has since graduated more than 1,500 physicians, physician assistants and doctoral students who now work throughout the state and across the country.

The actual training of future physicians started years before the university’s own medical school was given birth.



a person standing on a stage: As seen in this file photo, first-year student Abigail Thomas is helped into her white coat during a College of Medicine "White Coat Ceremony."


© COLIN HACKLEY/FSU College of Medicine
As seen in this file photo, first-year student Abigail Thomas is helped into her white coat during a College of Medicine “White Coat Ceremony.”

In 1970, the university enrolled the first students in its Program in Medical Sciences, commonly known as PIMS. The program was a collaboration with the University of Florida’s College of Medicine.

Under that arrangement, students took their first year of courses at FSU and transferred to the University of Florida to complete their studies.

It proved to truly be a collaborative arrangement among Tallahassee’s academic expertise, as faculty at Florida A&M University – which was a partner in the PIMS program – taught pharmacology classes, according to the college.

PIMS was funded by a National Institutes of Health grant and was designed to meet the need for more physicians in rural Northwest Florida. That vision is central to the colleges mission today of training healthcare professional who will serve elder, rural, minority and underserved populations.

Honoring a legend

Friday night’s event will honor Professor Emerita Myra Hurt, the college’s acting dean when it was created, along with members of the college’s Hall of Fame Class of 2020.

In September, FSU President John Thrasher

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FSU College of Medicine celebrates 20th anniversary in online event

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The 115 members of the Florida State University College of Medicine Class of 2015 learned where they would be continuing training during the school’s Match Day ceremony in the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall.

“It’s remarkable to look at its legacy … and see how far it has come as an institution,” the school’s dean said.

Florida State University’s College of Medicine is being recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine as a recipient of the 2020 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

The College of Medicine, in Tallahassee, is but one of 46 health-professions programs in the country being honored, and this year marks the fourth consecutive year it has landed the coveted award.

This latest award and other accolades are certain to get a mention Friday evening as the college celebrates its 20th anniversary with a virtual celebration. It begins at 7 p.m.

Dr. John P. Fogarty, dean of the FSU College of Medicine (Photo: Florida State)

“This medical school was created with a goal of helping to meet health care needs in communities that have traditionally struggled to provide adequate access to care,” College of Medicine Dean John P. Fogarty said in a news release.

“As we are celebrating our 20th anniversary, this award affirms that we are true to our mission and we are succeeding in producing the physicians Florida – as well as the rest of the U.S. – needs most. That includes our record of producing numerous alumni who now practice in rural parts of the state, especially in Northwest Florida.”

A history of training

The college – located on the western edge of campus – was established in 2000 by the Florida Legislature, and accepted its first class of 30 students in 2001. It was the first new medical school in the nation in more than 20 years. 

It has since graduated more than 1,500 physicians, physician assistants and doctoral students who now work throughout the state and across the country.

The actual training of future physicians started years before the university’s own medical school was given birth.

In 1970, the university enrolled the first students in its Program in Medical Sciences, commonly known as PIMS. The program was a collaboration with the University of Florida’s College of Medicine.

Under that arrangement, students took their first year of courses at FSU and transferred to the University of Florida to complete their studies.

It proved to truly be a collaborative arrangement among Tallahassee’s academic expertise, as faculty at Florida A&M University – which was a partner in the PIMS program – taught pharmacology classes, according to the college.

PIMS was funded by a National Institutes of Health grant and was designed to meet the

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