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William S. Morris III resigns from GHSU board over Georgia Regents name

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Protesting the new Geor­gia Regents University name for two combined Augusta universities, Au­gusta Chron­icle Publisher Wil­liam S. Mor­ris III, a former chairman of the state’s Board of Regents, has resigned from a board at Georgia Health Sciences Uni­ver­sity, expressing his disappointment with GHSU Presi­dent Ricardo Azziz and calling for the school to be renamed with Augusta in the title.

William S. Morris III  FILE
FILE
William S. Morris III

In a letter to Azziz, Morris said he regretted the move because of his and his family’s long association with higher education in Georgia. Morris served on the Board of Regents from 1967 to 1974, including a term as chairman, and his father, William S. Morris, served on the board from 1941 to 1951.

Morris said he was resigning from the GHSU Board of Visitors, to which Azziz appointed him in 2011, because of the affront the new name represents to the city of Augusta and its ties to GHSU and Augusta State University.

The regents voted Tuesday to name the combined schools Georgia Regents Uni­ver­sity.

“I object to your ambivalence to the voice of this community,” Morris wrote. “The naming convention you have advocated, and now gained endorsement from the Georgia regents, lacks sensitivity to the enormous community good will that has been cultivated over the years. It also has no regard for the voices of both your alumni and current student body, nor the longstanding relationship with Georgia Health Sciences University (formerly the Medical College of Georgia) and Augusta State University. You seem oblivious to these concerns.”

Citing Azziz’s stated “bold vision” for GHSU, Morris wrote, “It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for you to carry out your mission and vision without the united support from the city of Augusta and ALL of its citizens.

“I find I am unable to support you in this recent announcement of ‘Georgia Re­gents University’ until you acknowledge, in a profound way, a willingness to listen and accept the broader historical and communal
alignment of the legacy you’ve inherited. This must include a movement by you to rename the school, including the name ‘Augusta’ in its title.”

The resignation from the board, created last year to give state and national leaders a greater advisory role to the university’s leadership, was to take effect immediately.

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batya
280
Points
batya 08/12/12 - 11:17 am
5
1
Standing ovation for Mr.

Standing ovation for Mr. Morris! Finally, someone up there with integrity and character has the guts to speak out, and the guts to resign, I'm sure, a well-paid position for his beliefs!

daphne3520
950
Points
daphne3520 08/12/12 - 11:22 am
1
0
thauch12
6670
Points
thauch12 08/12/12 - 11:43 am
7
7
Interesting...

It is amazing how much people care about a name. I applaud Mr. Morris for attempting to stand up for what he believes in.

That being said, the longer this silly debate goes on, the worse it will be for both the city of Augusta and the state of Georgia. The university will be named Georgia Regents University...all this whining about Augusta being left out of the name is largely pointless. What's done is done. The important thing is that we still have a great university in this town, all that's changing is its name. Hopefully, we can all learn to live with it and move on.

harley_52
23387
Points
harley_52 08/12/12 - 11:31 am
7
1
I Am Now....

...an even bigger fan of Mr. Morris and the Augusta Chronicle. Both have taken a stand on the side of what's right and Mr. Morris has put his money and his reputation where his mouth is.

And I'm happy to see Mr. Morris addressed the most serious problem in this whole fiasco which is NOT the name chosen (which is bad enough), but the process by which it was changed.

Dr. Aziz and the board of Regents feigned interest in what the public (including the taxpayers who pay their salaries and the employees of both schools and the hospital) thought about the name and then ignored all of it and did whatever they wanted even IN SPITE OF what the public had to say. It was a sham. A head fake. The public was ignored and tricked by an arrogant, power flaunting group of State employees and I believe the Governor has the obligation to make it right.

Mr. Morris' resignation puts the ball squarely in the Governor's court and I'll be watching to see if he runs with it, or punts.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 08/12/12 - 11:34 am
6
1
For thauch12's Post

That being said, the longer this silly debates goes on, the worse it will be for both the city of Augusta and the state of Georgia. The university will be named Georgia Regents University...all this whining about Augusta being left out of the name is largely pointless. What's done is done. The important thing is that we still have a great university in this town, all that's changing is its name. Hopefully, we can all learn to live with it and move on.

Silly debates go on? Whining? Wow. I do not think it is pointless at all. This is not silly and people are not whining. They are fed up with people lying to them and being treated like an idiot.

And it is not done. We don't want to keep changing the name over and over..that is silly and pointless...sheesh.

Newsflash
1911
Points
Newsflash 08/12/12 - 12:18 pm
7
0
A new broom sweeps clean..........

A new broom sweeps clean ! It's time for El Presidente Ricardo Azziz to get his tired, worn out, lopsided broom and his dustpan and grace another school and perhaps another state with his expertise. Augusta Georgia has had about as much of this gentleman as she can take. Good luck in your future endeavors as it appears that you are begining to circle the drain.

gcap
290
Points
gcap 08/12/12 - 12:40 pm
5
1
I understand, Mr. Morris

Years ago I tried over and over without success to contribute in Richmond County. Selfish motivation by the incapable politicians of the day blocked my service. So, I moved to Columbia County where I have served and where the community thrives. Dr. Azziz fits right in to Richmond County's my way or the highway mindset. ASU's student body is five or so times that of MCG. Do the right thing and name it University of Augusta. Then get to work making the institution known for its accomplishments, not its name.

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 08/12/12 - 12:24 pm
5
1
Mr. Morris, Thank you very

Mr. Morris,
Thank you very much. Finally an input from someone who has much more clout than the ordinary citizen. Your letter of resignation was succinct and to the point. If Azziz does not get it after reading your letter, he has an even bigger ego than I thought. If more people in a position of importance would take a stand like you have, Mr. Morris, we would see dramtic changes come about rapidly. Again , thank you for taking a stand and being an even louder voice for those of us who have been shouting from the bleachers.
Sincerely
Robert M. Ward

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/12/12 - 12:45 pm
4
10
Billy hates it?
Unpublished

Hmmm, maybe it's not such a bad name after all. And btw, Brad's analysis is spot on. Also I cannot help but think this is more of a PR stunt for Morris to rescue his reputation in Augusta after the TEE Center debacle and the bankruptcy.

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/12/12 - 12:51 pm
5
0
I will agree
Unpublished

that the naming process was a farce.. having all of the surveys and committees ... just to ignore them was a PR disaster. If they already had a name in mind.. then they just should have announced it and dispensed with having all of these surveys, etc. I'm sure the immediate reaction would also have been negative.. but not to this degree and ppl would have accepted the name. So I think Azziz did drop the ball on how the process was handled.

tinytuna
74
Points
tinytuna 08/12/12 - 12:56 pm
5
0
Yeah!

River, you crack me up; as usual. I think Deke should speak up. Newsflash, I agree with you. I have had about as much of A-man as I can stand. I really don't like this name change.

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/12/12 - 01:11 pm
5
0
Deke the meek
Unpublished

If you are waiting for Deke to speak up.. don't hold your breath. Deke has made fence-straddling an art form (maybe he can teach a class on it at GRU!) In any case.. I am guessing maybe Deke is hoping to be appointed to the Board of Regents so he will have another bulllet point for his resume.. so I doubt he will be dissing their name publicly.

dooger
6
Points
dooger 08/12/12 - 01:14 pm
4
1
Stop your donations!

Bravo Mr. Morris. Now alumni of these fine schools, ban together and stop your donations!

kiwiinamerica
942
Points
kiwiinamerica 08/12/12 - 01:15 pm
0
1
Augusta, shmaugusta.....
Unpublished

Augusta must absolutely NOT be in the title. Azziz/the Regents got that part right.

A large part of the problem here is the merger. We've merged an academically nondescript commuter college which has a "fog a mirror" admissions policy, with the state medical school which has pretensions to be a national research heavyweight. That was always going to cause problems and it has. It's an academic "Odd Couple".

One thing is certain, however. If you want the medical part of this equation to be brought down to the level of ASU, in terms of its name recognition and national profile, go right ahead and put "Augusta" in the title.

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/12/12 - 01:28 pm
2
4
Actually....
Unpublished

the GHSU side accounts for by far the bulk of alumni donations..despite the ASU side having a larger student body. The GHSU side brings in about 10 times the money as the ASU side. I've been reading the comments from GHSU students and Alums about the name change on GHSU's blog and the vast majority of them were against naming the University after Augusta and the overriding opinion was to have Georgia in the name.. You have to remember that the majority of GHSU(MCG) students and alumni are not from Augusta.. from from all over Georgia and from throughout the nation.. so the name Augusta does not really resonate with them like it does locals. I do not see this name hurting alumni donations but naming it U of Augusta probably would have impacted donations from the GHSU side.

curly123053
4671
Points
curly123053 08/12/12 - 01:55 pm
5
0
It Will Always Be MCG To Me !

I have been recieving all of my medical care at MCG since 2005. Due to the arrogance of Dr. Azziz I am seriously considering moving some of my care to doctors at University with the exception of the doctor who diagnosed my rare form of cancer and successfully allowed me to become cancer free. But then I am hearing a lot of doctors at MCG are not happy either with the name GRU. I will just watch and see what happens and see if Azziz sees his mistake of stiff arming the the students and community as a whole.

justputtin
1414
Points
justputtin 08/12/12 - 02:01 pm
7
0
The people need to stand tall

I hope everyone that this name change effects will stand tall and be vocal about it. Everyone I talk to feels the name is horrible and the community was "played". Has anyone started a Facebook page in support of changing the new name? Thank you Mr. Morris for standing tall against it. If you are killing two birds with one stone as B.O. Suggested, so be it. I tend to agree w him usually but that suggestion he made stinks. Let's stay on point as river man stated. please continue the fight Mr. Morris!

pep607
65
Points
pep607 08/12/12 - 02:12 pm
4
0
Morris quits board

Thank you, Mr. Morris. Does Azziz even live in Augusta? If so, he must not get out of his ivory palace very often.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 08/12/12 - 02:22 pm
0
1
It was
Unpublished

obvious to me at the time of selecting Mr. Azziz, he had no ties to the area and was given the entitlement to aid/destroy the Augusta region's university system. Good luck with your sycophantic board of regents!

KSL
129740
Points
KSL 08/12/12 - 02:34 pm
1
5
Yes, Brad, I will say it

Yes, Brad, I will say it again. Uncalled for.

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/12/12 - 02:52 pm
3
3
KSL
Unpublished

Yeah, I suppose the truth hurts.

burninater
9583
Points
burninater 08/12/12 - 02:57 pm
4
3
“It will be extremely

“It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for you to carry out your mission and vision without the united support from the city of Augusta and ALL of its citizens."

Given the present and future economic engine that is GHSU, I think Mr. Morris is sorely misunderstanding where the power lies in this situation.

Riverman1
84039
Points
Riverman1 08/12/12 - 03:09 pm
0
3
Well, GHSU can't pack up and

Well, GHSU can't pack up and leave, on the other hand we don't have to do things for them like giving them the 7 million dollar Underwood Homes land as we did. Playing hardball won't help anyone and we just got hit by the pitch.

burninater
9583
Points
burninater 08/12/12 - 03:37 pm
4
0
Well, GHSU can't pack up and

Well, GHSU can't pack up and leave, on the other hand we don't have to do things for them like giving them the 7 million dollar Underwood Homes land as we did. Playing hardball won't help anyone and we just got hit by the pitch.
--------
http://georgiahealth.edu/about/documents/ghs-impact-2012.pdf

GHSU is expected to contribute $12.3 BILLION to the GA economy in 2012 alone.

That's not a hardball pitch hitting us. That's a small asteroid.

Riverman1
84039
Points
Riverman1 08/12/12 - 03:42 pm
0
1
Burn, true...ha

Burn, true...ha

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/12/12 - 05:00 pm
3
4
Augusta needs GHSU
Unpublished

more than GHSU needs Augusta... if you look at how much GHSU contributes to the local economy, it dwarfs the Masters. Now after seeing this knee jerk reaction from the locals over a name, perhaps state leaders will see fit to just move the main medical school to UGA in Athens after all... Augusta leaders are making it very easy for them.

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/12/12 - 05:15 pm
4
7
Morris resignation
Unpublished

yeah.. Morris resigning from the Board of GHSU is really going to put the fear of God into Azziz and the Board of regents. Let's not forget that this is the same person who has run his newspaper empire into bankruptcy and relies on taxpayer gifts like the TEE center to give him some financial leverage.

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/12/12 - 05:25 pm
3
7
I dont need to move anywhere
Unpublished

But you all are certainly giving them plenty of ammunition to move the the medical school with your whining over the name. This is a state university funded primarily by state taxpayers.. they have every right to choose whatever name they want and it should have a name that reflects it being a state level school rather than a local commuter community college. Am I thrilled with Georgia Regents University? No, I think they could have done better.. like I said, I preferred Georgia Arts and medical.. but had it been named University of Augusta... that would have been a clear signal that the main medical school was being moved to UGA. Let's at least look on the bright side.. having a name that reflects it as a state level school at least gives some hope that UGA wont get the main medical school for the state.

It's understandable that locals embrace the name Augusta.. and if this was to be a community college, that name would fit. Is that what we want this to become? Just a satellite campus? Again, if Mr Morris is such a fan of naming it University of Augusta, why doesn't he make a big endowment and then he can rename it anything he wants? Even Morris U.. I kind of like that name actually... the team mascot could be the fighting house cats.

Fiat_Lux
15429
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/12/12 - 05:35 pm
5
1
Right, Shellman, you know all about it.

They spend bazillions putting up new buildings and then just bid us a less-than-fond adieu because we're pinning their ears back over a stupid, insulting choice of name.

Oh, you know that's just what they're going to do. Oh my, EVERYONE, ssshhhhhhhuuussshhh! Quick! Be quiet. We don't want to upset these people; they might pull our medical school out of Augusta! Shellman sez so!

Cite your sources if you're so confident you know what your talking about, Shellman.

liberal
19
Points
liberal 08/12/12 - 05:45 pm
2
3
Bill, you're right, about 'Augusta'...

Why not for our new name, as a first rank university in the state's system...University of Georgia, Augusta.

Consider after all: University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Santa Babarba; etc.

See also North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, etc., for a similar system of naming first rank institutions.

Now, with this new name, GHSU has been demoted to the second rank of state supported Universities.

When the state of California, and others, want to denote an institution of the first rank they give it name recognition, e.g., for the most recent in California, UC, Sacramento. Immediate prestige accrues.

The Board of Regents, perhaps with the collaboration of the President Azziz (he has not addressed this issue), has rejected this obvious choice. Much, I think, to the detriment of the future of health care in this state.

Now, the future of health care seems to be in Athens, which retains sole possession of the UGA title.

The problem is, they are years from moving into the top ranks.

It could have happened here, sooner, and with far less investment, as occurred at UAB not long ago when Alabama decided to invest in their medical school.

Sad!

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