The Consolidation Working Group met behind closed doors Wednesday in hopes of narrowing down the list. The group got a recommended list from the Branding Work Team for six potential names:
• University of Augusta
• George Walton University
• Augusta University
• Bartram University
• Georgia National University
• Georgia Regents University.
All of the names except George Walton University were market-tested nationally, and most received support in internal polling and community feedback, such as a poll on The Augusta Chronicle’s Facebook page, said Susan Barcus, the chief development officer for GHSU and co-chairwoman of the branding committee.
George Walton University placed fifth in The Chronicle’s poll and was a popular choice in the internal polling, Barcus said. Research by D.F. Treadwell on university naming considered by the committee showed that proper names are preferred by many for university names, said co-chairwoman Helen Hendee, the vice president for development and alumni relations at ASU.
There is a second list of 17 names, including the work team’s six recommendations, still under consideration by the working group that includes Georgia Arts & Medicine (Georgia A&M) University, which was by far the top choice in The Chronicle’s poll.
That name did not appear to be popular with some university leaders. To most of the country, A&M means Agricultural and Mechanical, and leaders didn’t want a name that they would have to explain, GHSU Provost Gretchen Caughman said.
“We felt like even though it might be great to marry the Arts and Medicine, having the A&M applied will just lead to confusion and needing to explain it all of the time,” she said.
All the data and work by the committee are before the working group, which will meet again in two weeks to come up with a final list of three names, Caughman said.
“There’s a lot of work to be done in the meantime, additional testing that we’ve asked them to go back and do, some questions we had about things,” she said.
That will go before the University System of Georgia Board of Regents on Aug. 8, but they are not bound by the list in picking a final name, said Shelley Nickel, the associate vice chancellor for planning and implementation for the system.
In the two previous chances to pick a new name for the consolidated university earlier this year, the regents picked one from the list in one case and went with one that was not on the list in the other, she said.
“They have strayed and they have stayed the course,” Nickel said. “I won’t predict which way this will go.”
The recommended list presented Wednesday differed significantly from a short list the branding committee released June 15. That list included no schools with “Georgia” in the name but did have the two Augusta choices.
The committee initially felt it would be hard to make the new university stand out from other schools
with “Georgia” in the name but later went back and
did national market testing with Georgia names, Barcus said.
One criterion the branding committee looked at was The Chronicle’s poll of top 10 suggestions from the committee, from a student online petition and from readers. Many of the selections from the poll are among the 17 the working group is still considering.
The debate over the new name among students, alumni and the community might be helping enrollment at ASU.
Applications for next year are “way up,” said Dr. Carol Rychly, the vice president for academic affairs at ASU.
“We think there may be a little buzz about what’s to come that is perhaps exciting folks,” Caughman said.