There is no new name yet for the consolidated Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities, and it will be up to committees to pick it, GHSU President Ricardo Azziz said.
His preference would be for a new name that reflects statewide and national ambitions.
After it is selected, the university can proceed with an extensive new sign project that was put on hold as consolidation loomed.
“Everybody needs to know at this point there is no name on the table, not secretly, not otherwise,” the president said. “We haven’t the foggiest idea. It is going to be done through a collaborative process with external experts.”
Consolidation committees with representatives from both schools probably will be formed in a week or two with approval from state Chancellor Hank Huckaby, he said. The university system has said Azziz will be in charge of the consolidated universities.
Azziz said that he has no prejudice about what the new name will be but that it is likely to be new.
“My guess is that both names will go away and you will have a brand-new name,” he said. That is to reflect a new institution.
“This is truly a new university,” Azziz said. “When we choose a name, we want to make sure the name does reflect who we are and who we want to be and what our role and influence will be. That it highlights that we have ambitions to really be recognized nationally as a great university.”
When it became GHSU less than a year ago, the school had projected that adding signs and making other name changes would cost about $2.9 million. First, however, it had to square away renaming its health system, which was finished about five months ago, Azziz said.
“By the time the medical center name was corrected, then we sort of had heard about this possible consolidation, at least on the street,” he said. “So we wanted to wait.”
“A couple hundred thousand dollars or even less” has been spent on that project so far, mostly for things such as letterhead, business cards and temporary plastic signs that adorn the buildings, with the bulk yet to be spent on permanent signs, Azziz said,
“We need signage in the most desperate of ways,” he said. “But the issue is, we have to be very frugal in the way we approach it. We have to be smart.”
What likely won’t change are the traditional names of colleges, such as the Medical College of Georgia for the medical school or the Hull College of Business at ASU, Azziz said. Nor is there any reason to change ASU’s mascot, he said.
“Well, frankly, I like Jaguars very much,” he said. “I’m all for cheering for the Jaguars.”
Other university systems around the country are watching the consolidation in Augusta as a potential model, he said.
“It’s an exciting time for Augusta, and very few communities have the opportunity to really create a whole new university that, if done right, can be a great university at both the state level and the national level,” the president said.