Congratulations to Dr. Ricardo Azziz today. He's managed to merge two fine universities and alienate (and infuriate) many Augustans at the same time by helping usher in the vomitous name of the new school.
Georgia Regents University.
Take a second to breathe it in. Now, feel free to gag - and/or shout out every bad word that cannot be printed in this blog. We have the second largest city in Georgia and this is the best Dr. Azziz and the Georgia Board of Regents can do? GRU? The villain from "Despicable Me?" You've got to be kidding me. This name will fly like a lead balloon.
I always laugh when I read these stories about zombies, but I now know they really exist. They exist in the form of political appointees who serve on the Board of Regents. Unfortunately, Vice Chairman William NeSmith Jr., couldn't fend them all off by himself at the meeting. Wait a minute. I apologize for the insult. We all know zombies, unlike our "friends" at the Board of Regents would've been more open-minded about the name of the consolidated university between Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities.
I guess we should congratulate the Board of Regents on the birth of their son today, because many of us will now call this new university "Georgia Board of Regents University." How narcissistic can you get? We should all call this new university "Junior."
Did we really need another university in the University System of Georgia with the name "Georgia?" (There's 16 as we speak.) And this new name -- GRU -- will do wonders for athletic recruiting. Good luck, Dip Metress, Kevin McPherson, Melissa Mullins and every other coach selling the "Georgia Regent Jaguars." (Doesn't that just roll off the tongue?) Speaking of, I can't wait to see school opponents use the taunting terms "Georgia Rejects University" and "Georgia Regional University." All of the "GRU" rivals -- Armstrong, Clayton State, Georgia College & State, Lander, USC Aiken, Paine -- are chomping at the bit to use those insults, and who can blame them? Bet the Georgia Board of Regents didn't think of that; zombies would have.
Several of my friends told me the fix has been in for months. Who's to say they're wrong? These friends also trust Dr. Azziz as far as they can throw him.
If his job was to slap Augusta in the face by lobbying for GRU, then well done, sir. You and your mindless consultants accomplished just that, upsetting thousands of Augustans. And well done killing what shred of morale the Augusta State staff and faculty had left. (And for the record, I know several folks who work at GHSU who also despise GRU). If you're trying to win friends and influence people, you didn't do it today. Good luck rebuilding their trust.
Like I said before, Dr. Azziz is a smart man, with a ton of personality. And he may make many great decisions in the future, but this is one where we don't see eye to eye.
Many leaders have charm, charisma. We have many politicians in Washington, D.C., who possess those traits. Great personality does not translate into great decisions, though, thus our politicians continue to do nothing while our economy swishes around in the bottom of the toilet. But I digress. Let's refocus on this naming fiasco.
Maybe Augusta wasn't the "cool" name to pick for Dr. Azziz (Phone: 706-721-2301; email: firstname.lastname@example.org). I guess a city name was too low brow for someone seeking worldwide attention. Has he ever heard of the following universities: Auburn, Clemson, Syracuse, Houston, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Boise State, Miami, etc? They're doing just fine without a state name.
Here's Dr. Azziz's quote after the name selection today: "I am grateful to the Regents for selecting a name that reflects the true breadth and depth of the new comprehensive university, which includes an aligned and integrated health system. The word ‘regent’ is defined as having great power, and as an institution focused on the future, this name positions us as a leading university for quality teaching and education, with an array of academic programs to include both liberal arts and sciences, and one of only four comprehensive research institutions in the state.”
See, this name rules! Really. But with "great power," Spider-Man reminds us, comes responsibility. That's a responsibility to choose a university name that suits the entire community. Why reject the word 'Augusta'? Why, for goodness sakes, choose 'regent'? One friend on Facebook already has created an e-card that reads: "I don't drink a lot, but when I do I come up with a better name than Georgia Regents University."
The argument for GRU: The force-fed name will grow on us. Plenty of bad things grow in, on or around us: cancer, kudzu, weeds. We will never like any of them, either.
I hate hearing about the multitude of frivolous lawsuits in today's society, but this is the one time I sincerely hope Regent University of Virginia sues. (Who thought we'd all be pinning all our hopes on crazy, old Pat Robertson?) If a lawsuit comes, the state of Georgia will spend plenty of taxpayer money defending itself. And what's "cooler," more American, than wasting taxpayer funds anyway? Of course, there's no need for a lawsuit with three simple words: "University of Augusta."
University of Augusta may not mean much others, but for we Augustans and the many others who graduated from Augusta College or Augusta State University it means a lot. Thanks to Dr. Azziz, the Georgia Board of Regents and others who could care less about Augusta for showing blatant disregard to our community today with this tomfoolish name -- Georgia Regents University. That's really uncool.
Don't expect GRU to grow on our fair city. And don't expect many people -- today, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year -- to be happy over the decision to choose this name. One day in the future, the distant future, we may forgive. But we will never forget.