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Augusta State University faculty, students concerned about merger with Georgia Health Sciences University

ASU officials wonder what move will mean

Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012 10:41 PM
Last updated Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 11:58 AM
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Augusta State University professor William Reese didn’t get much sleep Monday night.

He was up late, researching what a merger between Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities would really mean.

When the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents approved the consolidation Tuesday, he found the vote didn’t answer many questions.

“At this point, we just don’t know anything,” said Reese, a professor of criminal justice and social work.

Opinions are split among ASU faculty about whether the university merger is a blessing or a curse, but one shared feeling is that of uncertainty. Their views are being formed mainly on speculation, but perspectives vary by departments.

Peggy Ruth Geren, a professor in ASU’s Department of Educational Leadership, Counseling and Special Education, said she hopes the value of the department is not shadowed by the extensive medical focus.

“We’re not just some amorphous kind of place,” Geren said. “We’re unique. ... I’m going to trust that people realize how many students we prepare, that teaching is a critical profession.”

In ASU’s Chemistry and Physics department, assistant professor Chad Stephens thinks the merger will bring more educational opportunities for students and more funding sources for the institution.

With a growing nuclear energy industry in the region, Stephens said it makes sense for a university to have a larger focus on the sciences.

“There’s certain models for arts and sciences to exist very well with medical schools,” he said.

Reese said he is mostly concerned the merger will disrupt three main components of how ASU operates.

First, ASU faculty have enjoyed some shared governance of the school with administration in such areas as hiring and curriculum decisions. A merger could put more power in administration.

And while ASU focuses on liberal arts, GHSU’s mission is health and science. Reese wonders how or whether those priorities will blend. And he is most concerned that admission policies could change from the current open enrollment.

“Education is a ladder. Intellectually, financially, culturally, it’s the way to a better society. ... I would be very discouraged if anything that we did as a result of this merger would in any way compromise that open admission policy.”

The lack of information about the merger also bothers some students.

Barinaadaa Kara, a senior political science major and the president of ASU’s Student Government Association, said he believes the merger was talked about long ago behind closed doors and should have been brought to the public sooner.

Staff Writer Tiffannie Meador contributed to this article.

Comments (18) Add comment
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Chillen
17
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Chillen 01/11/12 - 09:50 am
0
0
The merger should provide

The merger should provide significant cost savings - much like the merger between 2 corporations. Departments such as finance/billing, recruitment, nursing, etc. will probably be merged.

Middle & upper management, department heads and redundant positions are the most at risk (they are typically eliminated within the first 1-2 years of business mergers and this should be no different).

Professors should be OK - provided that enrollment doesn't decline due to other factors (such as the obama economy disaster and the Hope Scholarship funding decline).

I wish everyone there luck. They are now experiencing the living nightmare that the private sector of America has been going through for 3 years now. I guess the institutional "elite" now have a bit more understanding about why some of us are so passionate about getting this nation back on track again so we can try and repair this economy.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
9439
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 01/11/12 - 09:58 am
0
0
Just wait until he starts

Just wait until he starts cutting positions like he did at GHSU!! A lot of good people got "laid off"! These weren't the FAT, but the people that actually did the work. He kept the fat!!

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/11/12 - 10:02 am
0
0
Faculty shouldn't take a

Faculty shouldn't take a cynical approach to this. IF, and I stress, IF everything happens per design, I think all the positives that they enjoy currently will be enhanced, at least the more significant ones. Nothing so far, suggests an agenda that would be counter-productive to the success of the faculty at ASU. I empathize with those feeling uncertain, but complacency is not always the best medicine. They should assert themselves and their expectations and until something detrimental actually happens, look at things honestly and try to work with admin during the transition.

pumpkinpie
0
Points
pumpkinpie 01/11/12 - 10:26 am
0
0
isn't it time for churches to

isn't it time for churches to merge since recession most christians are not giving their tithes,offering nor services."Greater South Augusta Baptist,West Augusta United Baptist Church etc

Jilly Bean
0
Points
Jilly Bean 01/11/12 - 10:27 am
0
0
I look forward to seeing how

I look forward to seeing how this merger will help all parties involved. It will be a win-win for everyone. Maybe not the bottom 10% but that happens with any merger.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 01/11/12 - 10:51 am
0
0
Good post, Chillen.

Good post, Chillen.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/11/12 - 11:42 am
0
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Government math... Take two

Government math...

Take two positions. Subtract one. Double the remaining position's salary to compensate the person for added responsibilities and thousands of more students and you break even.

Case in point, who here honestly believes Azziz won't get a huge pay raise now that he is overseeing three campuses? Anyone? Anyone?

How quickly we forget about the pay raises right here in Richmond County when the commission merged departments.

countyman
20725
Points
countyman 01/11/12 - 01:21 pm
0
0
I don't think anybody expects

I don't think anybody expects the combine university to compete against UGA from the start. I do think Georgia State, Kennasaw State, Georgia Southern, etc can be overtaken in the next 10 years.. The combine univeristy will be competing against UGA and Georgia Tech in the future..

While our new university can't offer you seats on the 50 yard line.. UGA can't offer you top notch research and healthcare facilities either... The medical school in UGA will never be on the level of Augusta's, and our future football won't be able to match them..

mosovich
826
Points
mosovich 01/11/12 - 01:29 pm
0
0
Be interesting to see the

Be interesting to see the number on the total jobs lost due to this combination of the two.. Cuts need to be made, but it's going to be painful..

sand gnat
602
Points
sand gnat 01/11/12 - 01:44 pm
0
0
Why was Augusta Tech left

Why was Augusta Tech left out?

kiwiinamerica
950
Points
kiwiinamerica 01/11/12 - 03:50 pm
0
0
I have a large piece of prime
Unpublished

I have a large piece of prime real estate which I'd like to sell to some of you folks. Why is everybody using the word "merger"? This is a "TAKEOVER", in which a small liberal arts commuter school is being subsumed by a voracious Health Sciences complex whose leader will now become the new president of the commuter school.

The upshot is that the liberal arts school will now be run by a physician who knows little about university administration, still less about the liberal arts tradition. A second consequence is that a wannabee major player in the field of medical education and research will become Augusta State University Medical School. So we'll now have TWO MCG campuses which are affiliated with state universities; one in Athens which is affiliated with UGA and one in Augusta which is affiliated with ASU.

With which of those two state universities would you prefer your medical school to be associated? Do you folks get it yet?

And sorry, countyman, the biomedical research at UGA is every bit as good as that at MCG. What Athens doesn't have is a population/patient base to sustain a major teaching hospital. That's all that's saving Augusta's bacon.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/11/12 - 02:45 pm
0
0
I think it will actually be

I think it will actually be more interesting seeing the total jobs gained due to the merge. Within the school and beyond.

Bizkit
33352
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Bizkit 01/11/12 - 04:51 pm
0
0
They can't save money on

They can't save money on infrastructure , ASU has just begun a research effort, so the saving will have to come from consolidating faculty and staff. When it comes to research dollars this area will likely never be able to keep up with Emory (just the vaccine center alone generates a fourth of all research money in the Georgia Research Alliance, and Georgia Tech is internationally recognized for research, UGA generates lots of research dollars too (although some recent studies have diminshed the glow). But consistently Emory and Georgia tech are ranked high in research compared to other US schools. I wonder will those getting the boot be equitable from both institutions or will ASU be low on the totem pole. With Georgia ranked so low in job creation it seems at odds to increase the statistic. ASU actually serves a greater role in education with undergrads up their with Mercer and Emory in the 4-7, 0000 range, UGA caters to 25K undergrads, GTech 13K undergrads, even SCAD has 7000 students. No one has explained where the saving will come from?????????

BombquishaDavis
113
Points
BombquishaDavis 01/11/12 - 04:54 pm
0
0
tvveedie...gained? How many

tvveedie...gained? How many jobs have they recently gained at GHSU?
Thinking Insider Information got it right about that gubbermint math....

BombquishaDavis
113
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BombquishaDavis 01/11/12 - 05:02 pm
0
0
I wondered why my alarm bells

I wondered why my alarm bells went off when Dr. Bloodworth announced his stepdown from being President at ASU. Now I know! The way they crammed this down everyone's throat so fast, they had to get their ducks in a row a while back....Oh well...wonder how i'm going to explain my sheepskin from ASU....Absent State University?

Little Lamb
47278
Points
Little Lamb 01/11/12 - 05:42 pm
0
0
kiwiinamerica wrote: So we'll

kiwiinamerica wrote:

So we'll now have TWO MCG campuses which are affiliated with state universities; one in Athens which is affiliated with UGA and one in Augusta which is affiliated with ASU. With which of those two state universities would you prefer your medical school to be associated? Do you folks get it yet?

I think you are correct, Kiwi. That is why I suggested that the new merged university become associated with UGA and be a satellite campus. The name should become University of Georgia at Augusta. Short-name:

UGA—Augusta

yabbadabba
0
Points
yabbadabba 01/13/12 - 11:46 am
0
0
PLEASE call it the University

PLEASE call it the University of Augusta!!!! NO UGA-A!! PLEASE, PLEASE!! Let's be unique and our own university!!
Also, this could be a good thing all the way around. Why do things at ASU have to change? Why do they have to change at MCG/GHSU. Just change the name, consolidate some support functions and share other unique features. I fairly certain most medical (or law) schools have separate admissions standards, fees, etc than the undergraduate schools at which they are coexisting in other parts of the country/state. Why do we have to make it so complicated??
I know there will be a lot of PhDs in the merger/consolidation meetings, but...how many "intelligent" folks will be in there to make sure this doesn't become to confounded?? A student from both campuses needs to be in the room for some grounding and clarity. It isn't all about the faculty. The students are why there are universities here in the first place. Please do not forget that fact!!

Little Lamb
47278
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Little Lamb 01/13/12 - 11:52 am
0
0
Actually, Yabba, the money is

Actually, Yabba, the money is why the universities are here in the first place.

Little Lamb
47278
Points
Little Lamb 01/13/12 - 11:55 am
0
0
Yabbadabba wrote: I know

Yabbadabba wrote:

I know there will be a lot of PhDs in the merger/consolidation meetings, but...how many "intelligent" folks will be in there to make sure this doesn't become to confounded??

Yeah, and how many PhDs does it take to change a light bulb?

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