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Azziz told he's lost trust over school name change

SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Interim President Shirley Strum Kenny (left) stands on stage near Ricardo Azziz during a forum at Augusta State University. Azziz defended the selection of Georgia Regents University as the name for the new consolidated university to about 400 audience members.
Thursday, Aug 16, 2012 12:15 PM
Last updated Friday, Aug 17, 2012 1:38 AM
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During two public forums about the merging of Georgia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities, audience members at ASU told GHSU President Ricardo Azziz he made a mistake in the naming of the consolidated university.

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Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz (right) answers questions during a forum at Augusta State University about the merger of the two schools. "I would hope the community can move beyond the name," he said. "The community is not just Augusta. It is the whole state of Georgia."  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz (right) answers questions during a forum at Augusta State University about the merger of the two schools. "I would hope the community can move beyond the name," he said. "The community is not just Augusta. It is the whole state of Georgia."

“I’m interested in knowing what kind of leader you can be,” said Augusta resident David Steele at the ASU campus forum. “Are you going to be a strong, thick-skinned change agent and also admit a mistake?”

Azziz defended the selection of Georgia Regents University as the name for the new consolidated university to an audience of about 400 at ASU and another 500 at GHSU. With the Oct. 1 deadline approaching to submit a final name to the accrediting agency, he said the name is final and there is no time to reconsider.

“I would hope the community can move beyond the name,” Azziz said. “The community is not just Augusta. It is the whole state of Georgia.”

“We don’t trust you!” said ASU health and physical education major Chris Nabholz in response.

After several people at ASU expressed disgust for the chosen name and its acronym GRU, Azziz explained how the name came to be. He began the afternoon forum at GHSU, which was less confrontational, with a similar explanation.

A Consolidation Working Group gathered about 1,200 names accumulated from the community and narrowed them down to 25. From there, they cut the list to three. After some testing, the group was left with: University of Augusta, Georgia Arts and Sciences University and Georgia Regents University.

Azziz said the University System of Georgia Board of Regents selected GRU, and he believes the decision is not a mistake.

“At the end of the day the Regents made their own decision,” he told the crowd at the ASU forum.

That selection was made even after a $45,000 survey conducted by Kennesaw State University found University of Augusta was the top-vote getter among 1,400 people polled nationally and statewide.

The working group recommended names that were either positive or neutral, with the idea that the perception of a neutral name can be changed, Azziz said.

“To think that the Regents made the decision because the president suggested one thing or another is to not understand the process of the Regents and to undervalue what they’re contributing,” he said at GHSU.

Azziz added there was a “tremendous amount of one-sided coverage of this” among the media.

Susan Schepens, who attended the ASU forum, said leaders should
never disregard the results of data and surveys they conduct. She questioned how the community can trust Azziz moving forward if people were already misled about the brandability of GRU.

“The people here are questioning whether or not there’s trust in the air,” Schepens said.

GHSU medical student Harrison Grace asked Azziz about problems with national name recognition for the medical school.

“Our students need to have value and that means we’re going to have to invest in our name. We’re going to have to spend time and resources of our university to market this nationally, so we’re doing that,” Azziz responded. “The value won’t be immediately after you graduate, by the way. It’ll be 10 to 20 years from now.”

Toward the end of the forum at GHSU, medical student Aaron Winn told Azziz he “didn’t understand why we didn’t shoot higher” for a name with national recognition.

ASU assistant professor of history Michael Searles questioned how a name like GRU could be branded to be nationally recognized, like consolidation leaders have said they wanted, when many don’t recognize the word Regents.

Azziz said it will be a 10 to 20 year process, one the community should get behind.

Also at the GHSU forum, Azziz said the university will grow medical and nonscience research in a “strategic manner” but that both were important.

Azziz said the medical college, under his tenure as president, will not move to Athens, Ga., where the University of Georgia has expanded its medical campus.

After leaving the one-hour forum, ASU alumni Catherine Rutland said she felt disheartened. She felt insulted that the overwhelming consensus from the community against the name is being ignored.

“Everything just blew off (Azziz) and nothing seemed to get into his head,” Rutland said. “It’s like we don’t even matter. I think people are very passionate about how they feel about this, and we shouldn’t give up.”

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RoadkiII
6703
Points
RoadkiII 08/16/12 - 12:22 pm
19
1
Hey doc

Explanation is easy, you didn't give a rats patootie what anybody else wanted or how the name would sound to the general public. You still need to write a $45,000 check to somebody to offset the cost of the studies you chose to completely ignore.

Mr. Thackeray
953
Points
Mr. Thackeray 08/16/12 - 12:52 pm
13
1
The mayor is obviously in

The mayor is obviously in cahoots as he simply wants to accept the decision. When us Augusta going to throw him out and get a LEADER?

malcolm33
53
Points
malcolm33 08/16/12 - 01:04 pm
4
0
What did he say?

For those of us that did not attend this event. What was the explanation???

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/16/12 - 01:32 pm
7
1
From the tweets: AUG_McManus

From the tweets:

AUG_McManus "there's certainly a tremendous amount of one sided coverage of this" @ricardoazziz

this pretty much sums it up malcolm33

Fiat_Lux
15912
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/16/12 - 01:37 pm
12
1
Did he say anything substantive AT ALL

Or did he just blow everybody off and push the "move on" agenda?

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 08/16/12 - 01:49 pm
0
0
Move On and GRU-UP
Unpublished

Then say hello again to the Controlling Party of River City. Ben Dover will be paying a visit to all ARC citizens, students and taxpayers.

There is an alternative and it is called "people power". Local and national news coverage. A total boycott will bring down this Dictator. Remember, even with the show of "armed police", they are understaffed. Where does the battle to bring respect for and representation of the people of ARC begin?

jmb578
98
Points
jmb578 08/16/12 - 01:52 pm
14
1
Clueless

I think all Azziz did was make the community even more outraged. He wants the community to be on his team, but the community will not follow a leader that it doesn't trust and respect. He's going to have to show some respect in order to gain some.

Fiat_Lux
15912
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/16/12 - 02:03 pm
8
0
So what were his replies?

Did he give people any answers?

It's great to have the questions, but I'd like to know how he responded to them.

Cynical old woman
1111
Points
Cynical old woman 08/16/12 - 02:10 pm
19
1
Jerk

He's a jerk.
He's egotistical.
He's only interested in fluffing his resume.
He doesnt care about Augusta.
He doesn't care about the people of Augusta.
He doesn't care about employees.
He has sold the board of regents some sort of snake water.
He needs to leave.

Little Lamb
46969
Points
Little Lamb 08/16/12 - 02:14 pm
9
1
Branding

Tracey McManus was tweeting live from the forum today. These two tweets tell us a lot about Azziz:

Guy in audience to Azziz: "You need to be the type of leader who can admit a mistake."

@ricardoazziz : "We did not make a mistake. The branding team did not make a mistake."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Never admitting you made some mistakes along the rocky road of life is a hallmark of an arrogant, condescending person who believes that the rest of the world is littler than he.

Let's remember what this "branding team" did. First, they were told the name needed to be short and must not have the words 'health' or 'medical' or 'medicine' in it. Then, they went to work and came out with a long list submitted to the public for comments. The name 'Georgia Regents University' was not on the long list.

Next, ostensibly after listening to public comments, they came out with a shorter list, but still not the final one. 'Georgia Regents University' was on this shorter list. Public comments pooh-poohed the 'regents' name as being anywhere from silly to terrible.

Last, they submitted their final short list of three names to the Regents. Behind the scenes, Tarik Azziz lobbied the individual regents hard for 'regents.'

createyourfuture
68
Points
createyourfuture 08/16/12 - 02:33 pm
6
1
Say No to GRU

Little Lamb, you have nailed it. Obviously, the Regent representing Augusta could not be bought.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/16/12 - 02:39 pm
3
1
I am working on a plan that

I am working on a plan that will make a difference. A friend of mine suggested it start out with a big bottle of jack daniels and this crazy dude we work with. I'll get back to yall on it.

Fiat, from all accounts, he did not answer questions but offered explanations on why they came to choose "Regents". By limiting his focus to explanatory, he creates a bigger gap between the community and himself. I am one of the more forgiving types. I look for the good. If you lose me from your team, you have not fared well.

He would do much better to come and talk during the protest on campus Monday. Get on an even playing field with the people you intend to connect with. I've had worse ideas anyway.

Bizkit
32996
Points
Bizkit 08/16/12 - 02:35 pm
9
1
Organize Protest

We need to do like many progressives (OWS, ChikFilet) and ban the hospitals and organize campus protest. The community can make a difference and we need to show the pompous arrogant SOB that he can take his fascism and shove it. The fool forgets it isn't his school-its the community and state for our needs-not just his professional development plan.

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 08/16/12 - 02:43 pm
8
1
Dr. Azziz simply called the

Dr. Azziz simply called the community's bluff. Now it's up to the community to decide whether to accept the hideous name, or completely drop support for Azziz's personal toy - his new college.

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 08/16/12 - 02:44 pm
7
1
If the community really wants

If the community really wants to make a difference, they can not only drop support for the college, but also drop support for organizations that support Azziz' little college.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/16/12 - 02:44 pm
4
1
Pressure toward Nathan Deal

Pressure toward Nathan Deal and NOW. He appointed the BoR folks or his position appointed them. Give him an idea just how many folks in Augusta are outraged and how influential we are willing to become.

ridesbrd
112
Points
ridesbrd 08/16/12 - 02:50 pm
2
4
Maybe people should do

Maybe people should do something about this instead of [filtered word] on the internet?!?!

Employee and Student strike? oh wait its really not that important, its just a stupid name. Is this all we really have to talk about in Augusta right now?

Fiat_Lux
15912
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/16/12 - 02:51 pm
3
0
And now,

for our go at him.

LemonJello
19
Points
LemonJello 08/16/12 - 02:53 pm
8
1
"I would hope the community...

...could move past this name." "The decision is final." These are the words of someone that has no understanding of or care for the city of Augusta. It is obvious that he just thinks this is a hick town and he is the most intelligent person within 500 miles. I don't get his negativity toward the utilization of the city name within the naming of the school. He thinks that recognition would be a problem. Does he not realize that the most famous and prestigious tournament in golf is here. We are known WORLDWIDE for that very fact. ASU has had 2 consecutive back-to-back NCAA championships in golf! It doesn't get much better than that to capitalize on the Augusta name for national prominence. The Regents named that school in honor of themselves....and its a slap in the face to the people that make up our city. This move even diminishes the thousands of degrees out there that proudly say "Augusta College" or "Augusta State University." Apparentally, the 'Augusta" name diminishes the school in some capacity in his eyes. The very city that BUILT that school is being held as some second-hand education source for the past century. Should those degree-holders feel that their degrees are less valuable than what he envisions? People worked hard for those degrees. He has no right to an opinion. Azziz, in the past, has characterized himself as a "nomad" without real hometown roots. Really? Then why does he feel it is up to him and a board of elitists to come up with a suitable name that completely ignores our community? The man is an arrogant, self-obsessed, power monger. He has no place in Augusta as far as I am concerned. Yet, somehow he thinks that is a simple-minded view. No sir...its the view of a person proud of their hometown....something you know absolutely nothing about.

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 08/16/12 - 03:01 pm
9
1
ridesbrd,

I did, I was there at the forum...

It's not that change is coming, it's the process to get to that change that stinks to high Heaven. When something isn't right, you stand up for it. For almost 200 years, this community supported MCG and ASU as well... this is a load of horse manure.

The guy is lying about more than one thing, that's what people are upset about. If you disagree, that's fine, but you're in the 1% of people in the CSRA that agree with you. When this has been printed in the Columbus-Ledger, the AJC and papers as far away as Sacramento Clifornia... it's a big enough deal.

KSL
134494
Points
KSL 08/16/12 - 03:08 pm
6
2
It's up to people who care to

It's up to people who care to keep up the pressure. He doesn't think they made a mistake. Show him what a mistake it was. Do not become resigned and give in. Money talks.

ridesbrd
112
Points
ridesbrd 08/16/12 - 03:08 pm
2
12
tcker1983

1% of people in the CSRA? where is that stat coming from?

Honestly a lot more people than you think don't really care what they name this lame 3rd tier Augusta college. Go to a real university if you care about name recognition and higher learning.

ridesbrd
112
Points
ridesbrd 08/16/12 - 03:11 pm
5
3
The only thing i'm upset

The only thing i'm upset about is this supposed $45,000 they spent on a survey, I could have done a survey on constant contact or www.surveymonkey.com for $100.

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 08/16/12 - 03:14 pm
6
1
Azziz -

Felt the need to not even answer some people, instead moving on to the next person... I had to go today, I know plenty of people that work at MCG and have heard stories about him, I kind of new what to expect ahead of time... and was still absolutely shocked at the level of his arrogance, so I can only imagine what other people were thinking.

The audience gave a standing ovation to the first person that mentioned their dislike at the process and the Georgia Regents name... Azziz thought the ovation was for him, he SAID as much. That's what we're dealing with here!

"You (meaning all of us), have severely underestimated the level of intellect of the body(s) that have given their time and effort into the naming of this newly merged University." Meaning... we just don't understand how smart and foresighted Azziz and the BOR truly are... even though his whole argument is nothing but contradictory for every reason given in naming the university "Georgia Regents". Factual evidence that is local/state and national... stubbornly disagree with the King of 15th Street.

He said he meets routinely with the BOR's, they're his bosses and he's obligated to do so. Played it off as it was stricly the BOR's decision and their decision alone... then later in the forum said that in the decision process, he had the right to his opinion too for the process... meaning he DID personally lobby for the name after all.

The guy is dishonest and clueless as to the mess he has stepped in.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/16/12 - 03:22 pm
6
0
@ ridesbrd

don't hate, you said yourself its not that big a deal. Whya gonna get all huffy now?

btw, the survey was actual, not supposed. and it's results were ignored. Maybe in the BoR ultimate wisdom (Rolling eyes) they determined they could come up with more intellectual results.

KSL
134494
Points
KSL 08/16/12 - 03:19 pm
3
2
Also, Azziz will be moving

Also, Azziz will be moving on. Negative publicity kept up will go a long way toward winning the war. As stated, he may have won the battle. The war can still be won. I wonder if he displeased the students, alumni, and community as much as he has here. If so, would he have been hired for this position?

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 08/16/12 - 03:21 pm
7
1
ridesbrd,

There was a poll on WJBF stating that 97% of hundreds polled were against the name... if that's not overwhelming, I dunno what is.

The name has already been said by many current, possible future students and alumni as a deterrent to enrolling! There were students saying as such today! It's a hindrance, not a help in this area... the name means a lot, it's not a trivial issue.

Canephins
24
Points
Canephins 08/16/12 - 03:26 pm
7
2
Drilling down on names

What Dr. GRU fails to mention is that the 1200 didn't just get selected down to the final 24. There was a final 6 names and GRU wasn't one of those 6. Yet it magically popped up in the final 3. There has to be a reason he left that out of his reasoning, right? Hate to let facts get in the way.

maddog
27
Points
maddog 08/16/12 - 03:27 pm
5
0
GRU

Grand Rapids University

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 08/16/12 - 03:28 pm
3
0
Azziz...

Also said on more than one occasion that the community needs to get behind this and the university or that the area (Augusta) will lose out on a great opportunity... many in the audience took that as just short of a threat leveled in the direction of the audience.

Respect goes both ways.

And the merged University won't exactly be a 3rd tier college... the endowments will be right behind Georgia and Georgia Tech in the state, ahead of Georgia Southern and Georgia State.

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