After public backlash for not including “Augusta” on Georgia Regents University entrance signs installed last month, school officials announced Wednesday that the signs will be revised to include the city’s name.
The decision was made after university leaders, including President Ricardo Azziz, spoke with “community members” upset about the issue, said David Brond, the senior vice president of communications and marketing.
Brond said that the work should be completed by the end of February and that the costs to change the signs will be “negligible.”
In August, university officials unveiled blueprints showing that “Georgia Regents University Augusta” would replace “Augusta State University” on the gateway signs throughout the campuses.
It was part of a compromise reached in October 2012 between Azziz and members of Save the A, a movement formed in response to the name chosen for the consolidated ASU and Georgia Health Sciences University.
GRU would remain the official name of the school, but university officials agreed to use GRU Augusta for all athletic teams and marketing efforts, which Save the A members understood to include signs, according to Chairman Nick Evans. When the signs were installed on the Summerville campus in December, however, “Augusta” was not included.
Fleming Norvell, a donor to the school, called it a “stab in the back” for every resident of Augusta. Evans regarded the move as another reason to distrust the leadership.
On Wednesday, Brond could not comment on whether the signs were a breach of promise made between Azziz and Save the A members in 2012.
“I wasn’t at that meeting, I can’t comment about the specifics of that meeting and there was nothing in writing from that meeting,” Brond said. “The interpretation of that meeting is up to the individuals who were involved ... I can’t address whether signage was addressed at that individual meeting.”
Evans, who took part in the meeting, said it was. He said that during a 45-minute phone conversation with Azziz on Wednesday, the president acknowledged the community’s disappointment and vowed to fix it.
“He recognized that there was a shortcoming as far as following the letter of our compromise, the letter and spirit of our compromise,” said Evans, one of the first scholarship golfers at the former ASU. “He recognized they had not lived up to that agreement.”
Evans said his conversation with Azziz came after several University System of Georgia Board of Regents members reached out to him, although he declined to give names. Evans said those Regents expressed “that it needed to be fixed.”
In their conversation about the signs, Evans said he and Azziz also spoke about the positive changes going on at the school – the proposed cancer center, the hiring of “very strategic and important professionals” and expansion of research.
Although Evans said he was encouraged to hear Azziz agree to change the signs, he said promises have been broken before. Living up to the agreement is another thing altogether, he said.
“I won’t be satisfied until I see the results,” Evans said.