When he saw the first short list of proposed names for the consolidated university, Harrison Grace joked that he went through the Kübler-Ross grief cycle. But instead of finally landing on acceptance, he decided to do something about it.
Grace, an M.D./Ph.D. student at Georgia Health Sciences University, was one of the students who helped organize an online petition to add three more names to the potential short list of names for the university that will come out of the consolidation of Augusta State University and GHSU. A group of mostly GHSU students and one ASU student got together last Tuesday to whittle down about 20-30 suggestions into three new names to add to six put forth by a name-selection group. None of that group’s names had the word “Georgia” in it, but all three of the names put forth by the students did.
“The vast majority of us are Georgians and Georgia is a more recognizable name and location than just the city of Augusta,” said Brett Page, a student in the GHSU College of Dental Medicine and vice president of the Student Government Association.
One of the three, Georgia Arts & Medicine University, seemed to especially strike a chord with GHSU students, Grace said.
“Especially the GHSU crowd really want to see some part of our history maintained, given that MCG has had nearly a 200-year-old history,” he said. While medical students will still get degrees from Medical College of Georgia, the other health professions “are really concerned about receiving a degree that reflects their training,” Grace said.
While he knows most “A&M” universities stand for Agricultural and Mechanical or Agricultural and Military, Grace said it could be a way to “rebrand” as Georgia A&M.
“Agriculture and Mechanical were the driving industries of the last century,” he said. “But the current American economy seems to be more driven by the health sciences and creative arts, so I think there is an interesting potential for a rebranding of that name and the creation of a new type of university in that regard.”
Their online petition garnered more than 1,600 signatures as of Monday evening, far more than Grace had initially hoped. The naming committee has noticed and is taking their feedback into account, Page said.
“I think they heard us loud and clear,” he said. “We just want our opinions heard and not brushed aside.”
As the former president of the Student Government Association at ASU, Barinaadaa Kara said students are just trying to maintain their connection to their schools and express their opinions, but in the end the new name has to be married to the new institution.
“It has to be a name that is marketable, that can be sold to everyone, that is easier for people to locate, to understand, to link back to what the school is,” he said. “It has to serve its purpose. It has to link back to the mission of the school and the vision of the school and what the school is trying to create for this state, this community and internationally.”