Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz today will make his first public speaking appearance since the renaming of the merging GHSU and Augusta State University.
During two open forums, Azziz will be joined by ASU Interim President Shirley Strum Kenny to answer questions about the consolidation. They will likely face a crowd that’s critical of the new name – Georgia Regents University.
Students, faculty members and staffers of the universities, in addition to community members, are invited to attend by both schools. Similar forums were held in April and June.
ASU junior Chris Nabholz plans to attend. He’s curious to see how the crowd reacts to Azziz, who will lead the consolidated school.
Azziz has been a target of criticism since the University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved the Georgia Regents name, despite public opinion that largely favored the name University of Augusta or other options.
Nabholz described the student body as “dejected” and wants to shift the focus to student unity.
“Deep down inside, we know there is a hint of hope we can change it but we just haven’t seen enough big leaders come out,” he said.
Nabholz wants people to stand up against the Georgia Regents name at the forums, although he said reaction from students has had little or no influence so far.
Chris Blanco, an ASU senior and creator of a Facebook page titled “Everyone Against ‘Georgia Regents University’ Sound Off,” said he expects Azziz to defend the name. He said momentum is building toward a protest scheduled for Monday at ASU.