City Ink: Group wants to shoo the GRU

On Sunday, Augusta leaders who want to keep “Augusta” in the name of the city’s consolidated university go public with a campaign to “Save the A” – and shoo the GRU.


Campaign Chairman Nick Evans said Save the A is gaining tremendous support in Richmond, Columbia, McDuffie and Aiken counties from community leaders, alumni of Geor­gia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities, doctors, lawyers, dentists, nurses, teachers, car dealers, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.

He didn’t really say the last three.

The campaign is the result of outrage over the Geor­gia Board of Regents naming the school after themselves – Georgia Regents University – with no mention of “Augusta,” a name with worldwide recognition.

Adding insult to injury was the deceitful way it all came about, with GHSU President Ricardo Azziz launching a naming campaign and seeking public input. He formed a Branding Team to screen proposed names and come up with a list of finalists. He also spent $45,000 on state and national surveys that showed names with “Augusta” ranked the highest. All the while, he was lobbying the regents behind the scenes with the name he wanted, which magically appeared on the final list.

Despite the tide of negative reaction to GRU, Azziz and the regents have refused to reconsider, so those who love Augusta, Augusta State University and the Medical College of Georgia, which sadly has been subsumed by GHSU, are looking to Gov. Nathan Deal for help because he appoints the regents.

Evans said he supports the governor and just wants his support “to give direction to the board of regents.”

“If the chancellor and Board of Regents would agree to make the new university the University of Augusta, it would be the most single unifying happening in our history,” he said.

Evans said if you talk to any business person outside Georgia and tell them the Board of Regents omitted Augusta in the name, their response is unanimous.

“They all say, ‘Why would they abandon a worldwide and globally recognized brand that is known for quality and prestige?’ ”

Another question Evans asked concerns Regent University of Virginia’s trademark lawsuit against the Board of Regents and the state to stop them from using Georgia Regents University: “Why would we want to carry on with the lawsuit and spend taxpayers’ money?”


BE CAREFUL, YOU MIGHT FALL OFF THAT FENCE: Mayor Deke Copenhaver said he thinks it’s a “very good thing for people to come together to address an issue,” but he hasn’t signed on to the Save the A campaign.

“Throughout the process, I expressed my opinion I wanted the name to be University of Augusta,” he said. “I have expressed a willingness with members of Save the A campaign to meet with the governor so their voices can be heard in Atlanta.”

(Excuse me, but if they haven’t heard voices from Augusta in Atlanta by now, they must be deaf.)

Meanwhile, the mayor took the opportunity to make a point.

“I would hope that in the future we could coalesce the same energy into addressing our city’s 22 percent poverty rate and the educational outcomes of the youth of our community,” he said.

(Excuse me again, but aren’t you talking apples and oranges?)


OPEN WIDE. SAY AAAHHHH! Augusta Commissioner Grady Smith, an Augusta State University Foundation Board member, gladly signed on to Save the A.

“My uncle was a dean at Augusta College,” he said. “I went there in the late ’60s when there were Quonset huts. In 1991, Dr. Bill Bloodworth came and brought it to a new level with great teachers. To watch that college grow and develop from what they called the 13th grade to Augusta State University has been a wonderful thing. Nick Evans, Duncan Johnson and I went there, and if it hadn’t been there we probably wouldn’t have gone to college.”

Smith said he feels the same way about the name MCG being overshadowed as he does about GRU.

“A lot of us feel like we’ve had something crammed down our throats,” he said.


GETTING RUSTY: Iron Man Deke is frustrated over being sidelined with tendinitis and unable to participate in the ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta. But there is some consolation thinking about his past glory.

“I’m still the only mayor in the Americas to have finished an Ironman-sanctioned event twice, so I’m two up on every other mayor,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles is representing the city this year and expects to beat the mayor’s time, just like he did three years ago.

Copenhaver said the rumor that Honey Boo Boo would be at the finish line to meet the participants is false.

I told Ernie the only people left you can get away with making fun of are stupid Southerners. I guess that’s because nobody wants to admit to being one.


WHAT IS THAT SMELL? U.S. House candidate Lee Anderson’s handlers continue to keep the media at bay, so they can’t ask the Republican anything he can’t answer. The strategy seems to be to have him make brief remarks at certain events, such as last week’s grand opening of Steak ’n Shake. If a reporter happens to be present, that counts as an interview.

Last week, spokesman Ryan Mahoney declined an Augusta Chronicle request to interview Anderson. Meanwhile, the campaign keeps calling Democratic incumbent John Barrow a liar and insinuating he used Government Services Administration cars in his TV ad, which he didn’t.

Next week, Anderson will begin his Tractor Tour of the 12th Congressional District. After the election, I expect he’ll begin his Retraction Tour because of the false information he disseminated about opponent Rick Allen during the Republican primary.

Anderson accused Allen, a well-respected Augusta businessman, of donating to political candidates in return for millions in government contracts. That was such a blatant lie that Anderson was forced to pull the ad. But he has not apologized or retracted it, and Allen said sooner or later the damage to his reputation must be rectified.

He could sue and end up owning Anderson’s tractor and manure spreader.


DUCK! Julian Smith Casino was jam-packed for Democratic Richmond County sheriff candidate Richard Roundtree’s fundraiser Thursday. Democratic candidates who spoke were Probate Court judge candidate Harry James, State Court solicitor candidate Kelly McIntyre; Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney candidate Evita Paschal; Augusta Commission District 9 candidates Marion Williams and Harold Jones; and District 1 candidate Bill Fennoy.

Roundtree, the final speaker, gave an inspirational speech using the biblical tale of David and Goliath to bring his message home.

He said Goliath was a bully and the leader of the good ol’ boys.

“Goliath said whoever wanted to challenge him should meet in the middle of town. The Lord told David to go to the center of town. The Lord said he had given him what he needed.

“Augusta, our time has come,” Roundtree said. “We must not stop with winning the sheriff’s race. We should strive to win every race.”

He talked about how David took a slingshot and used the rocks around him to slay Goliath, then told the audience that they should start using the rocks around them to make a difference in the community.

I can’t remember everything he said, but he made some good points about getting youths off the streets and making them get their pants off the ground. That drew big applause.