Had they gone with the results of the market research and surveys, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents would have voted for University of Augusta as the new name for the consolidated Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities, according to records obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.
In the only time it was included in the survey, the name the regents selected – Georgia Regents University – did not even rank in the top 3.
In the national and Georgia telephone surveys, among internal polls of faculty members, staffers, students, and among people in the Augusta community, the University of Augusta was the top vote-getter every time, according to research conducted for committees working on the consolidation. The Chronicle obtained the records through a Georgia Open Records Act request.
GHSU paid $45,500 to Kennesaw State University’s A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service to conduct a phone survey of 800 people nationally and 400 people in Georgia, and an Internet survey of 200 faculty members at other institutions.
Those polled were told they were being asked about “potential names for a new comprehensive research university,” to rank how much they liked or disliked the name, and which names they associated with the concepts of “prestige, excellence and innovation,” according to a proposal for the research.
In the first wave, when respondents were asked to rate the names from 1 to 5, with 5 being “like very much,” University of Augusta was the top vote-getter, earning a 4 or 5 from 68.5 percent of the people in Georgia and 55.9 percent nationally.
MIDWAY THROUGH THE telephone surveys, and apparently after the initial six finalists got a tepid reception, the potential names in the national survey changed.
University of Augusta and Bartram University were kept and five names with “Georgia” in the title were added, including Georgia Regents.
In the national survey of 199 people, University of Augusta was still tops, with 57 percent giving it a 4 or 5, followed by Georgia National University and Georgia Eastern University.
Georgia Regents was a distant fourth, getting favorable marks from less than one-third of those polled.
The survey also asked people about Augusta, including in which state it was located, and gave them the option to choose more than one. In Georgia, 96 percent said it was in Georgia; 74 percent nationally said it was in Georgia and 6.4 percent said Maine.
There was a third wave of 241 people nationally that was labeled “Final Results for the Last Set of Names,” but it does not say when it was performed.
It appears similar to a final recommended list given to the Consolidation Working Group by the Branding Work Team, but that survey does not contain the name Georgia Regents University.
Once again, University of Augusta had the most favorable marks, at 47.9 percent. Those polled were asked how the word “Augusta” made them feel. Most, 45.8 percent, said “no feeling either way,” while 44.2 percent said it gave them a positive feeling and only 2.7 percent said negative.
In the faculty survey, University of Augusta also received the most favorable ratings, 68.3 percent, and was the one most associated with “prestige,” “excellence,” “innovation” and even “national.”
When asked what they most associated “Augusta” with, many said golf, the Masters Tournament, the South and, being academics, some brought up Roman emperor Caesar Augustus.
The Chronicle asked for documents related to travel in connection with the naming process but was not given any travel documents.
IN A REPORT titled “Naming Timeline,” however, it appears GHSU President Ricardo Azziz or perhaps his designates did approach state leaders and regents. In a section of the timeline titled, “Meet with Leaders,” it reads, “Dr. Azziz to meet with Regents and other state/local leaders” from June 28, after the branding team gave its six finalists, to July 17, when the Consolidation Working Group picked three finalists and sent them to the Board of Regents.
Asked to outline the process before the regents voted, Azziz said that three rounds of surveys had been done and that “that data” helped determine the three finalists, which included Georgia Regents, University of Augusta and Georgia Arts & Sciences University.
“It’s a little bit more extensive and certainly a bit more costly than previously, but we did feel that the name should have a statewide and national and eventually global impact, as would our university,” he said.