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Augusta State University president was told of merger late in process, had concerns

Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 5:05 PM
Last updated Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 9:12 PM
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An e-mail Augusta State Univer­sity President William Bloodworth wrote to a University System of Georgia Board of Regents member shows he was not told about the merger with Georgia Health Sciences University until late December and was deeply concerned about the consequences.

Augusta State University President William Bloodworth said University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby informed him of the merger Dec. 22  ZACH BOYDEN HOLMES/FILE
ZACH BOYDEN HOLMES/FILE
Augusta State University President William Bloodworth said University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby informed him of the merger Dec. 22

“Had I been brought in earlier, I think I could have made things work out better than they’re now likely to work out,” Bloodworth wrote Dec. 26. “I wouldn’t have had to face my wife’s tears. I wouldn’t be dreading next week.”

Bloodworth said University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby informed him of the merger Dec. 22 and that he couldn’t get the issue off his mind, according to the e-mail to Regents Vice Chairman William H. “Dink” NeSmith Jr.

Bloodworth worried that the consolidation would be “devastating news” to the ASU community and said its members should play a role in the plans.

“Faculty and staff at ASU must be given some chance to be a part of the deal – given a chance, that is, to see it as a consolidation, not a takeover,” he wrote.

On Jan. 10, the Board of Regents voted to consolidate ASU with GHSU to create a comprehensive research university. It is one of four mergers across the state. The board had no communication with the public before the vote, and the plan was kept confidential.

Although his initial reaction to the merger was one of worry, Bloodworth said his feelings changed after he spoke with GHSU President Ricardo Azziz and got more details from the University System.

Like most of his students and faculty, Bloodworth said his gut reaction was a result of the many unknowns.

“I was worried because I didn’t see everything,” Bloodworth said in an interview Wednesday. “Looking at it now, it’s an act of courage done on behalf of all the people in the state.”

His biggest fear was that the merger would increase admission standards and close the door for low-income families or students with poorer academic records. ASU has traditionally offered a somewhat open admissions policy, with few requirements beyond a high school diploma or GED.

Bloodworth said Huckaby assured him that the admissions policy would not change and that students would have the same access.

“I think my role as we begin to consolidate is to be an advocate for an institution that’s committed to serving students,” Bloodworth said.

Even though Bloodworth said in his e-mail to NeSmith that he wished he had been brought into the process sooner, ASU president said in hindsight that he understands it was the only feasible way for the University System to plan four mergers.

Bloodworth also wrote that he hoped Huckaby would tell the public that Azziz and Blood­worth were planning the consolidation together, because “presenting it as a two-party effort will take some of the sting out of it.”

Bloodworth asked NeSmith to give his support for Azziz being the president of the joined institution, which would help in the accreditation process.

In August, Bloodworth announced plans to step down as president at the end of this academic year. He said he’s aware of rumors floating around that the state pressured him into retirement so Azziz could lead the new institution.

It was a coincidence, Bloodworth said, stressing he had no knowledge of the consolidation when he made his announcement.

When he leaves the presidency, Bloodworth will return to the classroom as an English and American studies professor with tenure.

He said he’ll continue to be a part of the merging process and is excited for what’s ahead.

“This is historic. … We really do have a chance to do something that is quite new and quite different in American higher education.”

Comments (17) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
818
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Craig Spinks 01/21/12 - 06:10 pm
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ASU's lowest-in-the-USG,

ASU's lowest-in-the-USG, 6-year graduation rate had to raise eyebrows in Mr. Huckaby's office in Atlanta.

And, as for students with poorer HS academic records, do they belong in college?

If several local public school systems got serious about graduating only students who had the reading, math, writing and thinking skills required for success in post-secondary education, the problem of students with poor academic records would be solved without straining the increasingly scarce resources of ASU and the rest of the USG.

Fiat_Lux
16444
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Fiat_Lux 01/21/12 - 07:39 pm
0
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It just seems very odd to me

It just seems very odd to me that a mainly undergraduate institution (ASU) is being merged with a large undergrad through post doctoral-level institution (GHSU) that is planning on shutting down most, if not all, of its own undergraduate programs.

I hope this makes more sense when the rest of us get to see what "The Plan" is, because it sure doesn't make much at this point.

I do know the word for it, however: ENTERPRISE!

corgimom
38500
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corgimom 01/21/12 - 07:45 pm
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"His biggest fear was that

"His biggest fear was that the merger would increase admission standards and close the door for low-income families or students with poorer academic records. ASU has traditionally offered a somewhat open admissions policy, with few requirements beyond a high school diploma or GED."

Since most of the ASU students are from the RC metro area, raising the admission standards will be a big blow to ASU's revenues- because the school systems, especially that of RCBOE, don't graduate enough qualified students to meet higher admission standards. When the HOPE scholarship program began, it resulted in an explosion of remedial students at ASU. The 22% figure is totally accurate, most of the people that start at ASU don't have the skills needed to perform college-level work.

I do not understand why the citizens of A-RC accept such a terrible school system that do not prepare their children for future success.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/21/12 - 09:16 pm
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Remember Dr. Bloodworth's

Remember Dr. Bloodworth's words...

"If" the university system turns Azziz State University into a "world class facility," local students are going to get the shaft.

Don't believe me? Just look at the numbers.

It's always interesting to hear about a person's private e-mails when they are made public. They tend to be more frank than the words they say in public.

Riverman1
93854
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Riverman1 01/21/12 - 09:20 pm
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Insider Info, so it would be

Insider Info, so it would be better to have a school with lower academic standards? It's better to have weaker students than stronger ones? I disagree with that idea. The better the school is the better it will be for the community.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/21/12 - 11:13 pm
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Riverman, yes. ASU is listed

Riverman, yes.

ASU is listed as a "regional" university. It's mission is to serve the needs of the region, taking students as they come and preparing them for success.

The primary reason its graduation rate is so low is because many students begin there and graduate from UGA, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and other schools.

It's important to look at the "low academic standards," as you put it, when students enter, but also where students end up.

Where will these same students end up without this opportunity?

Riverman1
93854
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Riverman1 01/21/12 - 11:19 pm
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Insider, I understand your

Insider, I understand your thinking, but I believe the graduation statistics take into account those who transfer to other schools. Those weaker students who won't be able to get into ASU will have to find schools with lower standards or, heaven forbid, not even go to college. Keeping a school mediocre is simply not a good thing if there is a way to make it better.

Little Lamb
49126
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Little Lamb 01/21/12 - 11:24 pm
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Aye, yah, yah, yah, Yaye-e-e.

Aye, yah, yah, yah, Yaye-e-e. Inside Information posted:

The primary reason [ASU’s] graduation rate is so low is because many students begin there and graduate from UGA, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and other schools.

Well, don't forget also that many students (including my own child) also begin there and never graduate from any other school.

Graduation rates are a poor metric for any institute of higher learning. Graduation rates measure the student, not the school.

Dr_Evil
101
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Dr_Evil 01/22/12 - 08:38 am
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Could it be that graduation

Could it be that graduation rates are so low because the all-knowing, all-powerful federal government throws money at students who are ill-prepared to be in college in the first place? When people who have no business in college are clamoring for their "paycheck" that the government bestows upon them for merely "attending" college with no strings attached, you get a lot of people dropping out when they decide that it's no longer worth it. PELL and low-interest student loans are just more government handouts and ways that some people use as spending cash and view as a way to "make ends meet". Witness the story that was run on the news the other night. There is something wrong when financial aid students can tell you when they get their "refund" checks and the amount that they are "owed", but they can't
bother to attend classes on a regular basis. Graduation rates may be better if students were paying at least a portion of their education. If they were actually financially invested in their education, rather than looking for handouts, they may actually graduate.

kiwiinamerica
982
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kiwiinamerica 01/22/12 - 08:39 am
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Graduation rates measure BOTH
Unpublished

Graduation rates measure BOTH student and school.

Graduation rates are a direct reflection of admission standards. Garbage in, garbage out.

augustarookie
301
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augustarookie 01/22/12 - 09:14 am
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I'm all for this merger. As

I'm all for this merger. As a non-traditional student, I've attended universities all over the country and enrolled at ASU to take several classes. Worst experience ever. Staff was rude, teachers treated students disrespectfully.

madgerman
236
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madgerman 01/22/12 - 09:35 am
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Dr evil. Well put! I have
Unpublished

Dr evil. Well put! I have always wondered why these grants are sent to the student anyway. The money should be transfered to the education provider and drawn down to provide necessary tuition and resources needed for class work. In any event many are going to learn a hard lesson with these student loans, As I read it, you are responsible for life and there are no provisions for getting help from the bankruptcy courts, as it should be. These loans are like a fly-now-pay-later program to many students.

avidreader
3563
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avidreader 01/22/12 - 10:06 am
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I would say it's a sure bet

I would say it's a sure bet that the admissions standards will change as the seasons trickle on. The many "satellite" campuses in the area are going to prosper at the expense of less-than-savvy students who will leave these floating campuses (graduated, or not) with massive federal debts that cannot be repaid. An entirely new law specialty will evolve -- Student Debt Relief practices will pop up everywhere across the CSRA. The feds will buckle, the lawyers will prosper, and the tax payers will once again be screwed.

I know this is a glass-is-half-empty look at the situation, but I can't help it; it's just the way I see it.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/22/12 - 10:34 am
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Riverman, the statistics do

Riverman, the statistics do not take into account if students graduate elsewhere. You can check with the USG.

A school shouldn't be criticized for the students it takes in. It should be commended for the students it produces.

It's ridiculous to suggest that they just not go to college. That's the way to drive economic development and produce a strong workforce.

Riverman1
93854
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Riverman1 01/22/12 - 10:51 am
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Insider, I have a problem

Insider, I have a problem with that logic. We are supposed to keep the school mediocre so mediocre students will have somewhere to go?

For a bigger philosophical point about education, far too many go to college these days. The average IQ of the population is about 100. That's not high enough to do true college work. At the same time we need skilled technicians. My solution is to turn out more tradespeople. Make college tougher like it used to be and shutdown about half the colleges in America.

jrbfromga
448
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jrbfromga 01/22/12 - 12:49 pm
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As an Augusta College alumni,
Unpublished

As an Augusta College alumni, this will ruin the school.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/22/12 - 01:02 pm
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Riverman, re-read my post.

Riverman, re-read my post. You call ASU "mediocre." I do not.

You focus on the quality of students entering the school, but ignore the quality of those completing complete.

It's like criticizing a doctor for seeing sick people, ignoring the fact that the sick people get better after seeing him.

We can merge ASU and MCG, ignoring ASU's mission and purpose, but should we? Dr. Bloodworth's e-mail warns that we shouldn't.

Riverman1
93854
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Riverman1 01/22/12 - 01:07 pm
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Insider, I don't get all of

Insider, I don't get all of your post, but it's a done deal anyway. Let's all get positive here and work for a great university.

Sweet son
11672
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Sweet son 01/22/12 - 02:53 pm
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Faculty and students aside I

Faculty and students aside I am worried about the thousands of support staff that will be affected by this merger. Duplicate support departments will be combined and some, maybe many, will lose their jobs. Many have given their working careers to these institutions!

kiwiinamerica
982
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kiwiinamerica 01/23/12 - 12:54 pm
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I can tell you right now, how
Unpublished

I can tell you right now, how to simultaneously cut down on the number of students going to college and also reduce the currently outrageous and ever increasing cost of higher education; make student loans dischargeable in case of bankruptcy.

The widespread provision of student loans to anyone who can fog a mirror has been instrumental in the skyrocketing price of higher education in this country due to the greatly increased demand for college which these loans have stimulated. The law of supply and demand tells us that when there is a greatly increased demand for a commodity (education) whose supply has remained relatively constant, the cost will rise and that is precisely what has happened. Twenty to thirty years ago, I believe it was possible to pay for a college education by delivering pizza or flipping burgers in one's spare time which is the way it should be. That's not the case today and graduates are being saddled with tens of thousands and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Making college loans dischargeable in case of bankruptcy would radically alter the behavior of those who offer these loans. It would lead to an immediate tightening of the rules by which the loans are offered and a much more rigorous screening of applicants due to the now very real prospect that if a loan is made to a bad risk, the loan would have to be written down and the lender would incur a substantial loss if and when default occurred. This would have the immediate effect of fewer people having access to student loans and therefore a drastic drop in demand for college. Currently, lenders are perfectly content in the knowledge that there is no discharging the bad loans which they make. This must change.

This in turn would send an electric shock through the world of higher education and you would see those currently involved in this high end scam suddenly find savings out of nowhere and the price of higher education would drop.......drastically!

Cheap and easy money has decimated this country. It was responsible for the ruinous housing bubble which nearly detonated the entire economy in '08 and it has caused a catastrophic increase in the price of higher education. It HAS to stop.

BamaMan
2687
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BamaMan 01/23/12 - 02:45 pm
0
0
My child got through college

My child got through college financially because of various grants. She was always on the Dean's List thank the Lord, and being a single parent, I just didn't have the money. So we are eternally grateful for the student grants and loans. We, however, never got a DIME. The school received every penny. Fine with me, that's who it was FOR.

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