Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday that he has encouraged both sides in the Georgia Regents University name-change controversy to work together toward a compromise.
“There is conversation going on, and that is good,” he told reporters Tuesday night after a speech to the CSRA Regional Commission. “Hopefully a version of the name that will be, to some extent, satisfactory will emerge.”
Deal acknowledged he met last week in Atlanta with members of Save the A, a group of local business and community leaders created to campaign for replacing Georgia Regents University with University of Augusta as the name for the consolidated Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities.
Also attending were members of the Board of Regents and Chancellor Hank Huckaby, all of whom were encouraged to work out a solution.
“I’m not in the naming business,” Deal said. “That’s not the responsibility of the governor.”
Community sentiment toward having Augusta as a part of the name is easy to understand, Deal said. “The part that is not understood, though, is the point of view the regents had.”
Deal said Georgia Regents University conveys the image of a statewide institution – something that is destined to emerge as a nationally known institution that will bring resources, research funding and jobs to Augusta, Deal said.
“I want us to have a top 50 medical school, and I want it to be in Augusta,” he said.
The governor met Tuesday with GHSU President Ricardo Azziz and reiterated that he has full confidence in Azziz’s leadership abilities.
“We are fortunate to have someone of his stature here,” Deal said.
During his address to the CSRA Regional Commission, Deal said the federal government’s formal “record of decision” that will allow the Savannah Harbor deepening project to move forward is expected soon.
“I am now being told it will be next month,” he said, though it is not likely to occur before Election Day.
The record of decision is a document in which every federal agency with oversight of the $600 million project signs off on the plan.
“It will be the green light to move forward toward making that project a reality,” he said.
The regional commission is a nonprofit planning and development agency that serves a 13-county and 41-city region in the east central Georgia.