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Azziz says Augusta State, Georgia Health Sciences University merger will benefit both schools

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The goal of merging Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities is to create a well-rounded, higher learning institution and not to build an overgrown medical school, GHSU President Ricardo Azziz said Thursday.

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Augusta State University President William Bloodworth looks on as Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz addresses a town hall meeting about the merger of the two universities. Both presidents said they don't want to see admission standards change to affect any students but to increase opportunity.    EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Augusta State University President William Bloodworth looks on as Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz addresses a town hall meeting about the merger of the two universities. Both presidents said they don't want to see admission standards change to affect any students but to increase opportunity.

Although ASU students and faculty have expressed concerns about losing the intimacy of a liberal arts school, both universities’ leaders said the merger will create more opportunities for students.

“This is a unique opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime and truly once-in-a-century opportunity,” Azziz said. “Our universities are complementary. They are not competitive.”

ASU and GHSU presidents held four town hall meetings Thursday to answer questions about the consolidation of the schools and quell rumors. The audience neared 300 people at both morning meetings, although it appeared faculty outnumbered students.

At ASU, questions from the audience were about how the merger would affect tuition, the shared governance ASU faculty has with administration, the treatment of nontraditional students and other areas of concern.

The presidents couldn’t give complete answers to some questions, such as whether ASU’s nursing program would be combined with the one at GHSU, or whether fees would increase once the schools join.

“At the end of the day, there won’t be an us and them,” Azziz said. “It will be a we, and we will work this together. Remember, it’s about growth.”

Ruthie Jatho, 62, an ASU student working on her nursing degree, asked whether the merger would affect ASU’s accommodation of nontraditional students. Both presidents said they don’t want to see admission standards change to affect any students but, rather, to increase opportunity.

As far as jobs, some physical plant workers were concerned the consolidation would create a surplus of workers and lead to layoffs. ASU President William A. Bloodworth Jr. said the merger will increase the need for laborers because of additional students.

“This is going to be a job-creating machine,” he said.

At GHSU, Samuel Herberg, a Ph.D. student and vice president of the Student Government Association, asked what the school’s name will be on his future diploma.

“Nobody knows the answer,” Bloodworth said, “Everybody has an opinion.”

By becoming a comprehensive research university, however, that name “will mean a lot more than it does today,” Azziz said. “The reality is we will have to come up with a name that honors tradition but is future-oriented.”

In response to a question from Dr. Robert Nesbit, a professor emeritus of surgery at GHSU, Azziz said, “My guess is (the name) won’t have ‘health’ in it.”

With only 600 employees at ASU compared with 10,000 at GHSU, Bloodworth said his institution will not bring a large amount of funding to the partnership but will bring its unique collaboration between administrators and faculty members.

“We have a strong sense of collegiality, a sense of family,” he said.

GHSU welcomes those new colleagues, said Dr. Mike Brands, a professor of physiology who recently published a paper with an ASU collaborator and is eager to work more with Augusta State’s mathematics and computer science faculty.

The idea is to make something more out of bringing the two together, said Azziz, who will lead the combined schools.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do it right,” he said. “To do it right for Augusta, to do it right for Georgia, to do it right for our students.”

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Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 01/12/12 - 10:26 am
0
0
Ricardo Azziz said, “This is

Ricardo Azziz said,

“This is not about shrinking anything. That would be a travesty.”

Wait a minute. Surely they can shrink something! There has got to be some duplication between the two schools that can be done away with. As Austin Rhodes mentioned yesterday, they've got two campus security chiefs, they've got two human resources directors, they've got two presidents, they've got two heads of physical plants. Are they going to keep all of those employees and just add a new layer of bureaucracy on top? Surely you jest, Ricardo.

kiwiinamerica
986
Points
kiwiinamerica 01/12/12 - 10:36 am
0
0
The new name WON'T have
Unpublished

The new name WON'T have "Health" in it???

Ahhhhhhahahahahaha!

Good one! After all the fanfare about "Georgia Health Sciences University" and all the banners festooned over the complex touting the new name, we're now ditching the word "health"?? What a total waste of time that was!

This whole deal comes over as rushed, improvised and half-baked. Isn't the right time to hold town hall meetings BEFORE, not after, this has been railroaded through?

These meetings are nothing more than a dog and pony show.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/12/12 - 10:41 am
0
0
Azziz says schools merger

Azziz says schools merger about 'growing'....

Any guesses on how much his salary will "grow" when he overseeing two more campuses, thousands more students and millions of more dollars?

Also...

If this isn't subject to "popular approval," then are the meeting just a sham?

And, if Azziz is sure that "health" won't be in the name, then why did he insist it was in the current name?

kiwiinamerica
986
Points
kiwiinamerica 01/12/12 - 10:44 am
0
0
Oh yeah......I forgot to
Unpublished

Oh yeah......I forgot to mention. I want one of these "Georgia Health Sciences University" signs which are currently all around campus. In a few years time they will be extremely valuable as they will be the only tangible artifact left on the planet of a very brief window of insanity which lasted but a few months out of the 200+ year history of the school, when it was called GHSU.

"Antiques Roadshow" here I come.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 01/12/12 - 10:45 am
0
0
It's about growing? Silly

It's about growing? Silly me, I thought it was about saving taxpayers money.

How are you going to grow an upper education institution at a time when America is waking up and finally realizing that a University Degree is not all its cracked up to be (unless you have a specific skill - nurse, doctor, etc)?

twentieth century man
105
Points
twentieth century man 01/12/12 - 10:49 am
0
0
The governor does have a

The governor does have a health care orientation. This merger reflects needs related to the current economic crisis and is not about growing. The need for a new name, so soon after a recent email disrupting name change is embarrassing. The fact that the most reasonable, analytic comments come from a retiree is indicative of the corporate culture. Apparently some of the plethora of regents institutions represent pork barrel politics. Georgia already has comprehensive universities and cannot afford more. We are faced with the merger of 2 relatively underfunded institutions (for their missions) in which the president will be someone hired by the last head of the Board of Regents. Politics interfered with the merger/elimination of other schools. It will be a long time before the benefits of this merger become apparent.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 01/12/12 - 11:08 am
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0
First, you do not know that

First, you do not know that the most reasonable, analytic comments came from a retiree. You only know what was reported above. It is not the entire meeting transcript.

Second, I have never heard a single head of a state-funded enterprise say anything other than he(she) is “underfunded.” They never think they have enough.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 01/12/12 - 11:13 am
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From the sidebar

From the sidebar above:

[Azziz and Bloodworth] will discuss the consolidation in four town hall-style meetings today, two on each campus.

Goodness, you would think they would want to embrace collegiality and have the students & faculty get to know each other by holding joint town hall meetings at a neutral location. They should have had the meetings at the Partridge Inn or at Tubman school.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/12/12 - 11:27 am
0
0
U spin me right round baby

U spin me right round baby right round like a record baby right round round round.

I disagree that the biggest issue is the name. Just the opposite. I agree with Dr. A about it promoting growth. Nit-picking his wording to create the spin isn't going to stop the merge either. I like the vim and vigor in the comments, but it ain't gonna convince me that Dr. Azziz is incompetent or trying to promote himself at the cost of merging the school improperly.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/12/12 - 11:39 am
0
0
Does anyone know where the

Does anyone know where the millions of dollars went with the last name change?

Where will the millions come from and go with the next name change?

Follow the money.

Fiat_Lux
16445
Points
Fiat_Lux 01/12/12 - 11:45 am
0
0
This is going to be a deja vu

This is going to be a deja vu nightmare for employees at MCG/GHSU. It's not just all the letterhead issues--which will be around for years; It also encompasses the effort required to get the rest of the regulatory world to know who we are, yet again. It's endless, tedious and stressful.

And GHSU just this week finally completely let go of the MCG.edu domain.

On the positive side, I wouldn't mind never having to type "@georgiahealth.edu" again. That's been an awful domain name, IMO.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/12/12 - 11:54 am
0
0
@ Insider. The funds

@ Insider. The funds allocated for sign changing and stuff is still available. Only a small portion was used and then when the merge began to take shape, they put a hold on it all.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/12/12 - 12:46 pm
0
0
tvveedie, you mean the signs

tvveedie, you mean the signs outside the school weren't changed, business cards weren't changed, and the whole new Web site cost "only a small portion"? So, they lied about spending $4 million?

noway
201
Points
noway 01/12/12 - 12:49 pm
0
0
Little Lamb, the meetings are

Little Lamb, the meetings are joint meetings. There were people from both schools at the meetings. They were trying to make it convenient since people work at both campuses. This is great for the students. Undergraduate programs can expand...it will be cool!

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 01/12/12 - 01:29 pm
0
0
Insider Information.. GHSU

Insider Information.. GHSU never said they spent the entire $4 million.. They spent a little over one hundred thousand, and then stopped due to hearing about the possibility of the merger..

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/12/12 - 01:47 pm
0
0
countyman, can you say where

countyman, can you say where you got this information? I would like to see the receipts and budget documents.

Austin Rhodes
3002
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/12/12 - 02:07 pm
0
0
I attended the ASU meeting at

I attended the ASU meeting at 11am today. There will be streamlining that will come in obvious places, and both Azziz and Bloodworth said as much. The consolidation of the two nursing programs is a good example, not to mention the auxiliary professions and support personnel listed above.

But the main emphasis is that this will be a bigger, better operation...serving more students, doing more research, and making the entire educational setting better for both institutions.

kiwiinamerica
986
Points
kiwiinamerica 01/12/12 - 02:47 pm
0
0
The name change fiasco has
Unpublished

The name change fiasco has ramifications which go far beyond dollars and cents.

This sort of "who are we......what are we called?" ongoing identity crisis is not at all conducive to fostering good morale among MCG/GHSU employees. In fact, it does quite the opposite.

anotherlook
101
Points
anotherlook 01/12/12 - 02:44 pm
0
0
I attended the 11 AM meeting

I attended the 11 AM meeting at ASU. There were more questions than answers. I did appreciate the fact that there was a very clear explanation of the whole consolidations process: (1) each school must pass its accreditation process through SACS (2) A letter of intent must be sent to SACS (3) a Consolidation plan must be submitted to SACS 6 months before SACS annual meeting. (4)If approved the consolidation must be completed within 30 days of approval or if SACS doesn't approve the consolidation then each school continues as before as separate entities. Both presidents emphasized the fact that the consolidation would take a lot of work and the committees would be comprised of representatives from both campuses including faculty, staff, and students.

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 01/12/12 - 03:04 pm
0
0
I meant to say over a couple

I meant to say over a couple hundred thousand..

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/12/12 - 03:59 pm
0
0
$4 million is "over a couple

$4 million is "over a couple hundred thousand"

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/12/12 - 04:18 pm
0
0
yes, it's about growing

yes, it's about growing Azziz's ego.

david jennings
625
Points
david jennings 01/12/12 - 05:19 pm
0
0
I wish everyone would take it

I wish everyone would take it easy on Ricardo Azziz, I think he looks a lot like Garrison Kielor

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/12/12 - 06:15 pm
0
0
If Garrison Kiellor ate a

If Garrison Kiellor ate a large game animal

anotherlook
101
Points
anotherlook 01/12/12 - 06:21 pm
0
0
Oh, I forgot to mention, when

Oh, I forgot to mention, when asked about the timeline on the consolidation, the response was that although no particular date had been set, they hoped that the consolidation would be complete by Fall of 2013.

socks99
250
Points
socks99 01/12/12 - 07:10 pm
0
0
Medical tourists will keep

Medical tourists will keep the very expensive medical system in GA, running. GA citizens, of course, cannot and will not be able to afford the care that's delivered in the future by this inefficient, corrupted system. Way to go Regent's!

Dipshot: What sort of large game animal do you refer to? Hunting season is over, pal!

Inmyopinion2
41
Points
Inmyopinion2 01/12/12 - 06:48 pm
0
0
I know there have been some

I know there have been some discussions here, on other posts and even by Dr. Azziz about minimizing the importance of the new name. However, the name is very important. It is the identity of who you are. MCG changed to GHSU and now will change again. I think student remarks and concerns about the credibility of their degrees from an institution that can't make up its mind on what it will be called are valid. People all over the state of Georgia and even the US knew who MCG was, but even folks at other sister institutions in Georgia don't know who GHSU is. At least we won't be the only group going through a new name change - but probably the only one going through two name changes.

As an ASU alumnus, I think the name is very important. I will need to change my resume to match what the new name will be so I feel it should reflect something that offers value to my degrees (I have more than one from ASU.) I am glad that Health will likely not be in the name. I am concerned that we might become University of Georgia plus something that illustrates with a medical school. (I read a quote from a Politian who had behind the scene information using those words or something similar.) The merge does not include UGA.

Dr. Azziz needs to recognize that if the topic comes up over and over again, then it is an important one and needs to have higher priority on the “to do” list. The name shouldn’t be of minimum importance and only addressed in time to send forward the merger to SACS as he eluded to in his 7:30 AM Town Hall meeting as recorded on the GHSU website (YouTube).

like-it-is
336
Points
like-it-is 01/12/12 - 11:24 pm
0
0
Now i guess Azziz would like

Now i guess Azziz would like to closed the streets between MCG/GHSU and ASU so that the Students can cross safely.

TakeAHike
191
Points
TakeAHike 01/12/12 - 08:02 pm
0
0
Take a low ranking medical

Take a low ranking medical college and merge it with an unranked southern regional university that graduates only 22% of its students in 6 years and see how that goes. That's just great.

"They [our schools] are not competitive." Well that's a true statement.

Inmyopinion2
41
Points
Inmyopinion2 01/12/12 - 08:44 pm
0
0
I know there have been some

I know there have been some discussions here, on other posts and even by Dr. Azziz about minimizing the importance of the new name. However, the name is very important. It is the identity of who you are. MCG changed to GHSU and now will change again. I think student remarks and concerns about the credibility of their degrees from an institution that can't make up its mind on what it will be called are valid. People all over the state of Georgia and even the US knew who MCG was, but even folks at other sister institutions in Georgia don't know who GHSU is. At least we won't be the only group going through a new name change - but probably the only one going through two name changes.

As an ASU alumnus, I think the name is very important. I will need to change my resume to match what the new name will be so I feel it should reflect something that offers value to my degrees (I have more than one from ASU.) I am glad that Health will likely not be in the name. I am concerned that we might become University of Georgia plus something that illustrates with a medical school. (I read a quote from a Politian who had behind the scene information using those words or something similar.) The merge does not include UGA.

Dr. Azziz needs to recognize that if the topic comes up over and over again, then it is an important one and needs to have higher priority on the “to do” list. The name shouldn’t be of minimum importance and only addressed in time to send forward the merger to SACS as he eluded to in his 7:30 AM Town Hall meeting as recorded on the GHSU website (YouTube).

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