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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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countyman
20129
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countyman 01/12/12 - 11:45 pm
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According to research/NIH

According to research/NIH funds GHSU is considered middle of the pack, and not low ranking.. Over 150 medical schools in the US

Keep in mind GHSU applications were up 10%, compared to national increase of 3%.. Obviously tons of people across the nation are trying to attend GHSU..

GHSU ranked 71st in 2012...

Nearby schools... Duke #5, Vanderbilt #15, UNC #20, Emory #21, VA #22, UAB #30, FLA/Miami/Wake Forest #45, MUSC(Charleston)/Kentucky #60, South FLA #66, L-Ville/VA Commonwealth #75, U of T Health Science(Memphis) #78, Arkansas #84, USC #91

Dipshot
-5
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Dipshot 01/13/12 - 01:57 am
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Yes, countyman, based on the

Yes, countyman, based on the info you posted, it's a lower ranking medical school. let's look at other nearby state medical schools. University of Alabama Birmingham ranked at #30 and closer by MUSC #60

Dipshot
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Dipshot 01/13/12 - 02:02 am
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GHSU is in the lower tier, so

GHSU is in the lower tier, so let's drop all of this nonsense of it being a "nationally" recognized medical school. Emory.. yes.. Duke..definitely. And GHSU does not even come close to other southern public medical schools at UNC and UVA. Now if GHSU was being merged with a larger nationally recognized University this might be something to get excited over.. but ASU? I mean like someone else said they barely have a 24% graduation rate in 6 years and are pretty much a regional community college. Sorry to be blunt but it's the truth.

countyman
20129
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countyman 01/13/12 - 02:57 am
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71st out of 150 plus schools

71st out of 150 plus schools doesn't equal lower tier.. The school is only 21 spots away from being a top 50 medical school.. Plus the applications at GHSU increased 10% compared to the nation's 3% increase..

You can't spin 10% vs 3%, similar to students chosing the Augusta campus over Athens six to one.. If GHSU isn't a ''nationally'' recognized school.. Then why are so many people including from outside of GA trying to attend GHSU.

GHSU ranked ahead of Louisville, VA Commonwealth, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, East Carolina, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech which are all located in the south..

GHSU will move further up in the rankings once the biotech/research is built in the CBD.. I bet GHSU in Augusta will always rank higher than the medical school in Athens..

agustinian
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agustinian 01/13/12 - 09:08 am
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Dr. Bloodworth, you can't

Dr. Bloodworth, you can't have it both ways. Consolidate because it saves money, but oh by the way, we'll increase jobs. Come again?

I suggest MCG, and GHSU, ASU start putting their name on velcro stickers so they are prepared to quickly change with the next whim of some administrator looking to make a name for herself.

tinman
35
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tinman 01/13/12 - 09:16 am
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Sylvia Cooper calls Deke "the

Sylvia Cooper calls Deke "the boy King". Well now we have the Shiek of Augusta increasing his kingdom and of course his income . And as someone pointed out, the will be another layer of Administration added to the top to run such a vast kingdom!

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 01/13/12 - 10:20 am
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Dr. A favors Al Franken more

Dr. A favors Al Franken more than anybody but aside from that. Lighten up on this merge and save the doom and gloom for when it fails plus you get to pile on some " i told you so". It's happening so lobbying against it is sorta counter-productive. Bring ideas to the table and take on some involvement toward making this a success. It's not committing your support, it's working toward a common goal no?

tabletop
28
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tabletop 01/13/12 - 10:24 am
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The most probable scenario of

The most probable scenario of the merger is that GHSU will cherry pick programs and a few years down the road they will decide that the merger will not work and a skeleton of a university will remain. Goodbye ASU.

Staler172
282
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Staler172 01/13/12 - 10:47 am
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@Dipshot. To compare GHSU to

@Dipshot. To compare GHSU to Emory isn't reasonable at all. Emory is world renown because of the affiliations with the CDC (A huge advantage for research money) and CHOA (Rated top 60 places to work year-in and year-out and known as a Top ten Children’s Hospital in the country). They’re also a Private institution so they aren't governed by the Board of regents and regulated by the Gov which gives them a clear advantage over GHSU.
I also thought it was interesting that you didn't mention the other two Medical Schools in the State of Georgia, which are Mercer and Morehouse. Both of these schools don't even compare to GHSU as far as quality physicians and board scores. MCG/GHSU's students last year average over 235 as a class on their step 1 scores (the first major test after the second year of Med School) the national average fluctuates between 215-219. What this shows is that they're being taught way above average and are very competitive when they Match, which is what I'll mention next.
The 4th years last year “matched” to some of the best teaching hospitals in the country, most notably; Mayo Clinic, Neurosurgery at Harvard (most competitive position in the country), Johns Hopkins, Emory, Duke, Stanford, Vanderbilt etc. Also, you might be thinking that these are Internal Medicine positions? Well, only 13% of the class went Internal Medicine, with over 60% specialized (more difficult to match especially with the new health care law scare). These numbers are better than Emory as far as %’s. So, before you start badgering about info you don’t know, stop and think why the other schools are “Better Ranked” and that’s money for research, which is the President’s biggest push. When it’s all said and done GHSU is a great University with outstanding students.
One more thing, it’s the only Dental School in the State (remember when Emory had one, oh yeah, that was until MCG over took it and they decided to cancel the program).

kiwiinamerica
942
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kiwiinamerica 01/13/12 - 11:08 am
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@countyman. UGA has biotech
Unpublished

@countyman.

UGA has biotech coming out the ying yang. It actually offers a degree in applied biotechnology. What does ASU offer? Remedial reading? As far as broad based biotech research goes, UGA is well ahead of MCG.

Athens has one major problem. It lacks the population/patient base to support a large teaching hospital. It's a small college town. That's all that's saving Augusta. It has more sick people. This has nothing to do with academics or our ranking. It's demographics.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 01/13/12 - 11:08 am
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So apparently Dr. A, Dr. B,

So apparently Dr. A, Dr. B, the Regents, the mayor, the governor, and every other individual on board with this have a hidden agenda to advance GHSU at the cost of decimating ASU. If this is accurate, all the counter-production in the world won't stop the wheels. Better to just roll with it.

yabbadabba
0
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yabbadabba 01/13/12 - 11:28 am
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The new name should simple be

The new name should simple be the University of Augusta. Keep the traditions and colors of ASU (blue/white, athletic teams, etc). Because if you want to save money...changing EVERY thing in Christenberry and on ASUs campus will cost more than Azziz has at MCG/GHSU.
This now needs to become AUGUSTA's university. So, go with the University of Augusta. DO NOT become UGA-A. That is ridiculous. Who wants to become the little brother or (step-child) to them? Learn from the whole USC-A, USC-U, USC-B, USC-S, etc. Who wants an Alphabet soup?
Let's be our own University! Go Jags! and Go University of Augusta!!

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