An open letter to the Georgia Board of Regents

Dear Georgia Board of Regents,


Greetings. I know a lot is on your platter for your Tuesday agenda. So I'll get to the matter at hand. For months, we in Augusta have debated the name of the new university which will come from the consolidation of Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities. There's been a smorgasbord of name choices, and we all have different opinions. But let's get one thing clear: Many of us, from alumni to students, to professors to staff, from residents to politicians, all agree the name "Georgia Regents University" is unacceptable.


As one of my friends mentioned, it's simply a slap to the face to our fair city. I fully understand many of you probably don't care. There are no regents living within 60 miles of our city. So let me debate our cause.


A committee overseeing the consolidation of the universities pared down a long list of name choices to three: Georgia Arts and Sciences, Georgia Regents University and University of Augusta. The first name works well except for the acronym (GAS-U). The last name is a conservative choice, but one we can build on. The one you're being recommended to select is the school name we cannot figure out.


Georgia Regents University? What does it mean anyway? This name has never fully been explained to the community. Instead, many people feel like a) this has been in the works for awhile and 2) it's being jammed down our throat like bad medicine. I went to the dictionary to try to figure out the name. Yes, regent means ruler (or it means a member of a board that governs a university or university system, such as yourself). This new school is combining a medical university and and liberal arts school. It will produce doctors and nurses and businessmen and teachers and  people in other strong professions. It's unlikely the New U. will be preparing students to be kings or queens, or even regents.


Some people feel the Georgia Regents name is one Dr. Ricardo Azziz has been pushing for awhile. I've met Dr. Azziz once in the two years he's been in Augusta. He's a sharp man with a great personality. And I wish him the best as he continues to lead this consolidated endeavor. He has made, and he likely will continue to make, many great decisions. But if this truly is his name choice, then this is one decision I disagree with him on -- and I'm not alone. 


Thousands of Augustans and I urge you to swiftly reject Georgia Regents University and strongly consider University of Augusta instead. I know some people scoff over the name "Augusta," but the city is known worldwide. Golfers around the globe know the Masters Tournament is played in Augusta, Ga., not in Maine or Missouri. Augusta National Golf Club is not embarrassed by its name. It's never changed to "Georgia National Golf Club," just to get the state's name in the title.


There's an argument the name of the city is not strong enough to carry this new university. I disagree. There are plenty of universities with cities in the title: Boston College, University of Miami, University of Louisville, College of Charleston, Syracuse University --  I can go on. Speaking of Syracuse, N.Y., the area is much like ours in Augusta. The metro area is about the same size (maybe slightly larger), and the city features a major research university. Does Syracuse University need the state name "New York" to help its cause? No.


The University of Augusta (or Augusta University, if you prefer) would have its own unique identity. Besides, we already have 16 universities in the University System of Georgia with the name "Georgia." Sixteen!!! Do we really need another cookie-cutter name that will get lost in the shuffle?


You may be wondering what gives me the right to argue the case for naming the new university? Plenty. As I've already mentioned, the Board of Regents doesn't have an Augusta representative. Also, I am a lifelong Augustan (38 years), and I'm also an Augusta State alumnus.


While I've never named a university, my wife and I were blessed with triplets in 2005. She picked the girls' names, while I chose the boy's name. The easy play would've been to name him after myself and slap the cliche "Jr." tag on him, but I didn't want to do that for one main reason. I wanted him to have his own name, one that will display his own personality, his own identity. By naming this new school Georgia Regents University, you will essentially be naming this school after your own body. Which makes no sense. Why not name it "Georgia Board of Regents University" then? If you name it "Georgia Regents University," we're all going to add the word "Board" anyway. (And this is slightly off topic, but do you know what GRU is anyway? Have you seen the movie "Despicable Me?" If not, do a Google search.) 


Certainly, there has to be a level of appreciation for the work the consolidation committee performed paring the list of finalists down to the three names. But here's something they missed: How will this affect athletics?


If you think athletics isn't a major deal, think again. Over the past five years, Augusta State has garnered tens of millions of dollars worth of free advertising on the national, regional and local scenes thanks to its basketball team making a run to the 2008 NCAA Division II national championship game, which was televised live on CBS. The Jaguars followed with two more Elite Eight appearances. Then the golf team took the baton, winning NCAA Division I national championships in golf in 2010 and 2011, becoming the first team in almost three decades to win back-to-back golf titles.


Athletics has brought plenty of attention to Augusta State in recent years. You won't find 3,000 people at a biology lecture. You will find that many people at a Jaguars basketball game, though. That's the power of athletics -- the front door, the face, of many universities. The new university will be known for its medical component, but athletics will continue to be a major player.


When the various sports teams compete around the southeast, much less the nation, they will be carrying the banner of the New U. And do you really want them to be called the "Georgia Regents Jaguars?" That rolls out your mouth with the joy and ease of vomit.


I understand this letter (blog, if you will) is likely a lost cause. Many of you board members already have made up your mind. But the lost causes, as they say, are the one you fight for the hardest. I ask you to please keep an open mind. And I kindly ask you to reject Georgia Regents University and instead choose a name that will make us all proud: University of Augusta.


Thank you for your time reading this.




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blues550 08/06/12 - 01:48 pm
Agree. Totally.

Agree. Totally.

Carleton Duvall
Carleton Duvall 08/06/12 - 01:53 pm
Good letter that will more

Good letter that will more than likely end up in file 13.

Insider Information
Insider Information 08/06/12 - 02:04 pm
Call me crazy, but Augusta

Call me crazy, but Augusta State University has a ring to it.

JKeen 08/06/12 - 02:17 pm
Actually I like the Idea of

Actually I like the Idea of GRU because we can change the mascot to the Minions and we can all be GRU's Minions. Of course if we're Gru's Minions then we must all be followers and not leaders... which sort of fits this direction.

Canephins 08/06/12 - 02:29 pm
To further those

To further those points:

Clemson, SC population 14,000. No problem having Clemson in the name.

Auburn, AL population 54,500. No problem having Auburn in the name.

They are proud to have the school bear the name of the city and draw attention to their towns, of which would be nothing without the schools. Augusta is much larger, around 200,000 in population, but still uses the school as a distinctive marker in defining the city.

The name should have never been changed to begin with. You don't see other schools changing names when they bring in other programs or other schools. They just become part of the bigger entity.

This is clearly a case of an agenda being put forth with complete disregard to public opinion and those of and with the school.

Riverman1 08/06/12 - 03:23 pm
I'm hoping this tsunami of a

I'm hoping this tsunami of a backlash works and we end up U of A tomorrow. I am proud we all came together to voice our concern. I'll remind GHSU they can even keep that name by simply putting U of A above it.

RoadKing 08/06/12 - 05:32 pm
Chris ... Excellent as usual

Chris ... Excellent as usual !

cops140 08/06/12 - 09:17 pm
Not everybody likes

Not everybody likes University Of Augusta either... So please dont think that we all do... Im still in favor of Georgia Arts and Medicine University. I hope they pick that one.

Right on
Right on 08/06/12 - 09:20 pm
Chris, I do not know you

I do not know you but you deserve a great big pat on the back. Your writing is excellent and opinions hit it dead on the head. Well said!!!! Hopefully the decision makers know where and how to read!!!

crkgrdn 08/06/12 - 09:38 pm
Thanks Chris. You offer a

Thanks Chris. You offer a very intelligent and thoughtful argument. Let's hope that the regents can find the intelligence to understand your letter.

proud2bamerican 08/06/12 - 10:02 pm
I wish that we would all take

I wish that we would all take the time to duplicate a letter like this and FAX it in tomorrow! At least Chris Gay can sleep at peace knowing he has done something besides complain.

hockeymann 08/06/12 - 10:24 pm
Way to go Chris..Good

Way to go Chris..Good article. Only thing I could add is that it SHOULD
REMAIN AUGUSTA STATE UNIVERSITY. Changing the name just to please
his highness, Dr. Azziz is a joke. What about leaving it as is, and using the
several million dollars needed for name change, to instead lower tuition
and fees some. The regents board and Dr. Azziz don't pay these costs,
the students do. ASU students far outnumber GHSU (or whatever it is now) students. Why should it change for them??

abeecee 08/07/12 - 04:17 pm
Oh well. Augusta finally

Oh well. Augusta finally finds our Thomas Paine, and it is too late.

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