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Records show University of Augusta was most preferred

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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.

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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.

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Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 08/11/12 - 07:27 pm
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I almost forgot the best part..

You can also buy a condo in The White's Building just so you can be near it all.

Jerry Mander
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Jerry Mander 08/11/12 - 07:33 pm
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Fraud is fraud

The study to recommend a name was done with public funds, but the results of the study apparently were reported to the Board of Trustees falsely by Azziz. Is this not fraud? Azziz needs to be held accountable. If he did falsely report the results of the study, the Board of Trustees should fire him.

OnTheHill1
345
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OnTheHill1 08/11/12 - 11:34 pm
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Follow The Money

Some commenters have said that the more locals complain, the more the BOR and Azziz will dig in their heals to show who is boss. I think that is true, particularly for Azziz who prides himself on ignoring only what feathers his nest. Therefore more grass roots efforts, letter writing, meetings, etc. to the BOR or Azziz will only exacerbate the situation. To take a different tact, I've forwarded this revealing article to the office of General Counsel of Regent University in Virginia Beach as they warned the BOR of potential legal action should GRU be selected. For others so inclined, their contact information is: Email: Isakoff@regent.edu, Phone: 757.226.2797, Fax: 757.226.2793

Should Regent University choose to follow through on their threatened legal action, such an action will cost MCG/GHSU/ASU/GRU money, which might get the BORs and Azziz attention and certainly add to the public outcry.

Why limit the name change to just a paltry $45,500?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/12/12 - 09:44 am
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Shellman, I disagree with everything you say, but...

Your last comment was funny as all get out.

OnTheHill1
345
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OnTheHill1 08/12/12 - 11:56 am
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GHSU Employees Threatened

3,938 "Likes" on the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/notogru isn't chump change, but I suspect the count could be much more. If Azziz is true to form, I wonder how many of the 10,815 GHSU employees have been threatened with termination if they respond to the positive on this Facebook page. This is not new, Azziz is infamous for terminating or demoting those who don't enthusiastically preach his party line.

scamp1
103
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scamp1 08/12/12 - 07:37 pm
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Cost

AZZIZ INCURED COST SUMMARY SO FAR

Cost of changing the name of MCG to GHSU -- $3 million

Cost of changing the names of GHSU and ASU to GRU -- ???? At least $3 million, but more than likely a whole lot more

Cost of the merger -- ????? Some say it's in the $20 million to $40 million range

Cost of unread surveys -- $45,000 for only one of the three. Others ????

Cost of the secret master plan -- ?? at least $100,000

Cost of the loss of trust and support of Augusta residents, faculty and staff at both institutions, and students -- PRICELESS!

AugustaProf
138
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AugustaProf 08/12/12 - 09:05 pm
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No surprises

Nothing in this report is surprising, but THANK YOU Tom for pulling the records and reporting on this. The truth behind this "naming process" turns my stomach perhaps even more than the name.

AugustaProf
138
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AugustaProf 08/12/12 - 09:10 pm
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Be careful what you wish for

OtH1 (and others), Regent University would seem to have a very valid trademark infringement suit and they might win or otherwise force a name change. But, do NOT assume that the fallback will be University of Augusta. In fact, I'd assume that the fallback is GASU, which is significantly worse.

OnTheHill1
345
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OnTheHill1 08/13/12 - 08:14 am
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Exposing the Culture of Fear

The bigger issue is a clear message that somebody establish some limits on Azziz. He has operated with impunity since arriving in Augusta; seeming to operate with no supervision. His appointed Board of Visitors (less Mr. Morris from yesterday) seems not to have a say, the BOR marches to his drumbeat. Absolute Power corrupts absolutely, said a 19th century historian. Azziz likely had a tough weekend, his leadership team meeting or talking by phone. I can see him saying, in part, as AugustaProf suggested, "So Augusta, you want a different name, I'll show you. Live with GASU!"

Azziz has raised the bar positively at the institution, that hopefully will remain at that level even if he were to leave, but his management style is rife with deception, lying, threats, creating within GHSU a culture of fear. The gloves are off to expose what is really happening at GHSU from this excellent Tom Corwin piece with such objectivity and detail.

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