Old name will linger for MCG

New signs costly, but Internet issues provide other challenges
Changing all of the college's signage to reflect the name change will cost about $2.1 million, according to Deborah Barshafsky of MCG.

On Tuesday, it will officially become Georgia Health Sciences University. But it could take two years and nearly $3 million before all of the signs, decals and so forth reflect that.

In what an official admits could be a confusing move, the name Medical College of Georgia will still be around, but just referring to the School of Medicine, though MCG will also still designate the clinical system and its buildings.

The most immediately visible change will be the university's Web sites and 9,000 e-mail addresses that will change over late Monday night or early Tuesday to georgiahealth.edu, said Walter Ray, the director of the name change IT project.

The school will still be able to run the mcg.edu site in parallel to redirect traffic and e-mails, but only until Sept. 30, he said. That's because the registrar for the .edu academic sites, Educause, only allows one .edu designation per school and a year of transition, Ray said. That could be a problem with research papers that list the mcg.edu contact and similar publications in circulation, he said.

"I think there is a big concern on campus about sort of falling off the face of the map when it comes to some of those publications," Ray said.

The school plans to petition Educause to keep the mcg.edu designation beyond Sept. 30, particularly because Medical College of Georgia will still be a valid name as part of the university, he said.

"That's one of the arguments we're going to make," he said. "But at this point in time, I have no indication or reason to believe that they would (allow it). I've been saying Sept. 30. It could change. If it changes, that would be a positive change."

The name change was approved in September, and the lead time has allowed departments to use up existing stocks of stationery and envelopes "instead of everybody running right out and buying brand-new stationery," said Deborah L. Barshafksy, the vice president for strategic support. "We're really trying to maximize that normal replacement process as much as possible to keep the costs down."

The majority of the $2.9 million cost will be changing all the internal and external signs, about $2.1 million in total, she said. Talk of replacing the signs actually began before the name change discussion as the health system and campus began moving toward integration even before the arrival of President Ricardo Azziz last year, Barshafsky said.

"We realize that we had some problems on campus with signage," particularly with uniformity and helping people navigate the campus and clinical system, she said.

The new signs will all feature the new logo, which was still being voted on Friday. It will still feature the six-columned representation of the Old Medical College building, but in an updated way, Barshafsky said.

The name change was necessary to show the university is more than the medical school once housed in that building, but the MCG name was retained to reflect that history, which might take a little getting used to, Barshafsky said.

"We do recognize that that might be confusing for some folks, but for us and for many of our external constituents and our internal folks, this is a very welcome thing to have happened because we finally have a name that accurately conveys the scope of what we are to the population we serve," Barshafsky said.

That is why, for probably the first year or so of the transition, the university name will be followed by something denoting it as the former Medical College of Georgia, she said.

"We don't want people to be looking for the Medical College of Georgia and think that we have fallen off the map or to not recognize what Georgia Health Sciences University is," Barshafsky said.

Changes to online

The Georgia Health Sciences University era begins Tuesday. The university's Web site will now be www.georgiahealth.edu, and all of the 9,000 e-mail addresses will switch from mcg.edu to georgiahealth.edu.

The university will be allowed to run the old mcg.edu site until at least Sept. 30 so traffic and e-mail will be redirected. However, officials are asking the public to update their bookmarks to the new site.

The university is celebrating the event at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in the atrium of the Health Sciences Building, 987 St. Sebastian Way.

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