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Week to bring movement on merger of Georgia Health Sciences, Augusta State universities

Regents to meet on plan Tuesday

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The first formal step of the plan to merge Au­gusta State and Geor­gia Health Sciences universities comes Tues­day, when the proposal will be presented and voted on at the University System of Georgia Board of Regents’ meeting in Atlanta.

If the consolidation, which includes the mergers of six more institutions in three other areas, is approved as expected, it will trigger an ambitious timeline to transform the two divergent Augusta schools into one comprehensive university by fall 2013.

The plan has caught some by surprise, but Augusta political leaders are championing the proposal as the kind of idea the community needs to embrace to create opportunity for future generations.

“You have to be nimble and willing to change in this world or you will be run over or left behind,” Augusta Mayor Deke Copen­haver said.

He said he understands there will be many obstacles in the consolidation process, but he hopes everyone will look ahead at the possibilities that a large regional university in Augusta can create.

“I think we need to look at what the situation will be 20 years from now,” Copenhaver said.

The next step after the Board of Regents gives its approval will be forming an implementation committee, officials said.

The committee members will be selected by ASU President William Bloodworth and GHSU President Ricardo Azziz, and subject to the approval of university system Chan­cellor Hank Huck­aby. It will be the committee’s job to make recommendations to complete the consolidation.

One reason for the proposed mergers that officials keep pointing to is the opportunity to save on administrative costs by combining some operations and reducing payrolls. However, Huckaby and others say it is too soon to specify exactly how much might be saved. That will come as the consolidation plans progress, officials say.

Copenhaver says he can see one more immediate advantage to creating a larger university in Au­gusta: It could silence all the talk about the University of Geor­gia taking away Augusta’s medical school.

“This takes that off of the table,” he said.

BOARD OF REGENTS CONTACT INFORMATION

KENNETH R. BERNARD JR.

REPRESENTS: 13th Congressional District and appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue

RESIDES: Douglasville

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(770) 920-8350; Fax–(770) 920-8970

LARRY R. ELLIS *

RESIDES: Atlanta

CONTACT INFORMATION: (770) 458-3773

RUTLEDGE A. GRIFFIN JR.

REPRESENTS: 1st District and appointed by Perdue.

RESIDES: Valdosta

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(229) 245-1558; Fax–(229) 242-6612

ROBERT “BOB” F. HATCHER *

RESIDES: Macon

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(478) 746-8222; Fax–(478) 746-8005

C. THOMAS HOPKINS JR.

REPRESENTS: 3rd District and appointed by Perdue

RESIDES: Griffin

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(770) 227-4600; Fax–(770) 227-9055

W. MANSFIELD JENNINGS JR.

REPRESENTS: 8th District (appointed by Perdue)

RESIDES: Hawkinsville

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(478) 783-4001; Fax–(478) 783-4620

JAMES R. JOLLY

REPRESENTS: 9th District (appointed by Perdue)

RESIDES: Dalton

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(706) 226-2317; Fax–(706) 275-4433

DONALD M. LEEBERN JR. **

RESIDES: McDonough

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(770) 302-3000; Fax–(770) 302-3109

WILLIAM “DINK” H. NESMITH

REPRESENTS: 10th District (appointed by Perdue)

RESIDES: Athens

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(706) 548-0010; Fax–(706) 548-0808

DOREEN STILES POITEVINT

REPRESENTS: 2nd District (appointed by Perdue)

RESIDES: Bainbridge

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(229) 246-8577; Fax–(229) 248-1922

WILLIS J. POTTS JR.

REPRESENTS: 11th District (appointed by Perdue)

RESIDES: Rome

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(706) 802-1313; Fax–(706) 802-1313

NEIL L. PRUITT JR.

REPRESENTS: 5th District (appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal)

RESIDES: Norcross

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(770) 806-6893; Fax–(770) 925-4619

WANDA YANCEY RODWELL

REPRESENTS: 4th District (appointed by Perdue)

RESIDES: Stone Mountain

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(770) 879-5700: Fax–(404) 598-1068

KESSEL STELLING JR.

REPRESENTS: 6th District (appointed by Perdue)

RESIDES: Columbus

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(706) 649-2924; Fax–(706) 649-5297

BENJAMIN J. TARBUTTON III

REPRESENTS: 12th District (appointed by Perdue)

RESIDES: Sandersville

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(478) 552-5151 ext. 208; Fax–(478) 552-1118

RICHARD L. TUCKER

REPRESENTS: 7th District (appointed by Perdue)

RESIDES: Duluth

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(404) 463-0592; Fax–(404) 657-7913

LARRY WALKER *

RESIDES: Perry

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(478) 987-1415

PHILIP A. WILHEIT SR. ***

RESIDES: Gainesville

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone–(770) 532-4421; Fax–(770) 532-8956

*-At-large, appointed by Perdue; **-At-large, first appointed in 1991 and re-appointed in 1998 by Gov. Zell Miller and again in 2005 by Perdue; ***-At-large, appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal

Comments (8) Add comment
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...point to ponder
779
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...point to ponder 01/08/12 - 11:22 am
0
0
If the Board of Regents was

If the Board of Regents was really concerned about saving taxpayer dollars (*this plan to merge ASU and GHSU(*MCG)was for the purpose of saving funds)...THEN the Regents first step still should be to undo the changes they made by having an Athens campus of MCG (*GHSU)...this will save millions each year!
BUT..this proposed merger of ASU and GHSU(*MCG) will not save "million's of dollars" each year. But for savings in 'administrative' costs...just how much can they save...maybe a few hundred thousand. What other reasons are there for this merger? The savings just don't make the effort to merge worthwhile.

The big train wreck that is coming is that this proposed merger brings closer to fruition the "combining of MCG(*GHSU) with the University of Georgia....since they would have already taken care of the smaller ASU/MCG merger. It becomes just an administrative item.

Given their past actions there is something missing in all this...it's "TRUST". And this stems from a total lack of communication to the community.

DanK
784
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DanK 01/08/12 - 12:01 pm
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This idea is wrong on many

This idea is wrong on many levels, but nothing about it is more frightening than installing an inexperienced and unprepared person as president.

Three years ago, Azziz was a department head in a hospital. He had zero experience as an administrator and zero track record as a leader. The result at GHSU has been chaos and carnage of unbelievable proportions. His administration has been a complete disaster. This Napoleon's mad march through MCG has brought the university and its hospital to its knees.

And now the Board of Regents is going to make him president of a university? Knowing absolutely nothing about how academic institutions work, no clue about undergraduate education, and an autocratic management style?

God help the faculty and students of ASU. Azziz is already destroying one university in this city. If he takes over ASU, we can expect a similar "transformation" there as well.

One can only hope that the Board of Regents sees the light before racing blindly down this path.

ChiefWanigas
1
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ChiefWanigas 01/08/12 - 01:55 pm
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political... that's scary!

political... that's scary!

Sweet son
11793
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Sweet son 01/08/12 - 02:14 pm
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@DanK, do you suppose that if

@DanK, do you suppose that if the Board of Regents brought someone from the outside to run the consolidated school that our man Azzuz would leave? Hope so!! But, it ain't gonna happen!

DanK
784
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DanK 01/08/12 - 05:10 pm
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This will not create a "UGA

This will not create a "UGA with Medical School" in Augusta, as some people think. The advantages of a combined research university with medical school derive from research in bio-engineering, biochemistry and bio-technology, computing sciences, health policy and advanced health care administration programs, and doctoral programs in the social and behavioral sciences. ASU has no doctoral programs of any kind and is not a research university.

However, this merger will likely nail down the turnover of GHSU's Athens program to UGA as soon as the Athens program is eligible for accreditation separate from GHSU. That will probably occur in 2-3 years. Since UGA is a research university, the medical school at Athens will immediately begin siphoning off state dollars from GHSU, and UGA will begin expanding and enhancing programs that build on the new medical school, attracting students and researchers who want to work in biotechnology and healthcare fields. UGA already has a large school of Public Health, which GHSU does not have. The Athens medical school, which at present is just a teaching program, will then become a true competitor for state funding and will be positioned to attract federal research funding as it grows its research legs.

ASU will never be a research university like UGA. There is no will (or need) for the state to support another UGA-like institution. Any small gains in operating efficiency of the merged university will be far overshadowed by the loss in state funding that will be redirected to Athens. Azziz could try to transform ASU into a research university, the way he is currently trying to transform GHSU into a research health sciences university. He will lay waste to the current university programs the way he has at GHSU. And after a few years, he will leave. We'll be left with the resulting mess -- two broken down institutions.

Perhaps this is just apocalyptic conjecture, but I find it difficult to see advantages in this merger that would outweigh the disadvantages.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 01/08/12 - 09:42 pm
0
0
Did anyone notice that not
Unpublished

Did anyone notice that not one of the BOR is from Augusta, home of the MCG? And here we are the second largest city in the state.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 01/09/12 - 10:30 am
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I believe the advantage and

I believe the advantage and hope is that Augusta will rival Athens, not just compete.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 01/10/12 - 09:06 am
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This merger is fine with me -

This merger is fine with me - provided that it gives us substantial tax savings. Which is unlikely because the government is running the show.

kiwiinamerica
986
Points
kiwiinamerica 01/10/12 - 10:39 am
0
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Anyone who knows anything
Unpublished

Anyone who knows anything about academia knows that this is a train wreck in the making. Medical schools derive a significant amount of their "gravitas" from the university with which they are associated. They usually take their name from said university, also. Thus, we have Harvard......and it's associated medical school, which is named Harvard University Medical School. We have Emory University.......and its associated medical school, which is Emory University School of Medicine. And so on. You get the picture.

So what university is MCG.......excuse me, GHSU......to be associated with? That's right, ASU. Will it now become the Augusta State University School of Medicine..........?? (belly laughs all around). It should if precedent is followed.

"El Presidente" is not content in eliminating with the stroke of a pen, MCG's name recognition which it has built up over the course of a century and turning it into the now totally anonymous GHSU. An entity which has zero name recognition throughout academia. He now wants to hitch his newly named creation to a commuter college!

What a joke. What a complete joke.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/10/12 - 11:44 am
0
0
Anyone who believes this will

Anyone who believes this will save money is dreaming...

For one, consider the salaries... If Azziz now is responsible for three campuses, rather than one; thousands of more students; and millions of more dollars, he is going to expect a hefty raise.

The same is true for all administrators.

Plus, you can't combine some things. For instance, you can't make all MCG students go to ASU to fill out financial aid paperwork.

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