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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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Fiat_Lux
14851
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/16/12 - 04:58 pm
3
0
At GHSU

LOTS of security. I think they were expecting people to be pretty agitated. Some were clearly angry, but nobody was even disrespectful.

KSL
121842
Points
KSL 08/16/12 - 05:08 pm
2
2
v4

You obviously have missed my post on another thread. A very small medical school connected with a small university in a very small New England town beats this state school hand over fist in rankings. But, it doesn't have to.

I have a great admiration for MCG. They hired top notched cardiac surgeons who did open heart, like in cut the heart open. 3 days after surgery he was standing up working when they came to release him. Those guys were awesome. Don't know why MCG let them get away.

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 08/16/12 - 05:09 pm
3
1
V4-

Again... you'd be in the extreme minority on this one... Papers in Atlanta, Columbus and even in California have written about this and the absurdity of the whole thing.

Univ of Louisville, Univ of Chicago, Auburn University, Clemson University, College of Charleston... do I need to go on? The whole thing was shady, that's all there is to it.

KSL
121842
Points
KSL 08/16/12 - 05:11 pm
2
2
That speaks for the people

That speaks for the people upset about this, Fiat as well as the folks behind this atrocity.

Clemintime
190
Points
Clemintime 08/16/12 - 05:27 pm
2
0
Board of Regents

Let's give them a phone call and express our appreciation or lack of it.

http://www.usg.edu/regents/members/

Clemintime
190
Points
Clemintime 08/16/12 - 05:27 pm
0
0
Board of Regents

Let's give them a phone call and express our appreciation or lack of it.

http://www.usg.edu/regents/members/

ASU Graduate
13
Points
ASU Graduate 08/16/12 - 05:33 pm
4
1
Never lose the courage to speak-up!;

Dr. Azziz needs to stand up and support the community's fight to change the name. Nothing is final..... If he can change the name because he had a vision. He can help find a name that we all can respect!

As an ASU and MCG graduate, I'm a local who does not support Azziz. Many of the several forums that Dr. Azziz holds may sound open-minded, but the end result ultimately is "Azziz gets what he wants. They are more like internal diffusers. Where he gives the audience the opportunity to vent their feelings and thoughts. But, only comes in to sell his arguments. And thats the end of the discussion." Just ask a MCG/GHSU/GRU? employee. Ask anyone who is on a committee that he sits on. Azziz's answer is final. People/employees are scared to speak up because they could lose they're jobs for insubordination. Its funny how Azziz's passion as a glory hound to create his legacy (as some say) lack insensitivity to the community. Let me count the ways 1) changing the name of MCG to GHSU - only lead to wasted money & Lay offs!, 2) Trying to get rid of Laney Walker - only showed his disrespect to the community, 3) the use of multiple forums in which he uses to diffuse and create false-openness.

Dr. Azziz needs to stand up and support the community's fight to change the name. Nothing is final..... If he can change the name because he had a vision. He can help find a name that we all can respect!

r
400
Points
r 08/16/12 - 05:35 pm
3
1
He plays games with everything!!

How to do we get him out of control?

grinder48
1760
Points
grinder48 08/16/12 - 05:36 pm
0
0
No more contributions
Unpublished

Bottom line, make no more financial contributions to either school or the combined GRU(nt). I think there's some degree of validity to the idea that having "Augusta" in the name might give it a ring of being a regional / local school instead of what they want it to be. But then again, there's Princeton University so Augusta University might not be so bad. (Augusta University "feels better" than University of Augusta, to me at least.) But anything that says "GRU" stinks ... GRU just has a bad taste!

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 08/16/12 - 06:07 pm
3
7
Even if Dr. Azziz was the
Unpublished

Even if Dr. Azziz was the engineer behind the naming process, he does not own the train. And, the BOR has no incentive to bend to public pressure, none whatsoever. It's a done deal...the BOR and Azziz have made that explicitly clear. Y'all should now be hopeful that the vision for the university plays out...the economic development for the area could be significant compared to the crazy ideas that have been presented to the city/county commission over the years.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/16/12 - 05:46 pm
4
1
Small minded? If being

Small minded?

If being big-minded requires me to stop being an Augustan and stop being so proud of the people in this city, then take the big ideas and pile it up as high as you want in another city.

csrareader
1283
Points
csrareader 08/16/12 - 05:51 pm
4
0
I wonder if the Board of

I wonder if the Board of Regents receives Masters badges. It true, it would be sweet if Mr. Morris could arrange to reverse that policy. Now that would get the attention of the BOR goobers.

johnalifsey
27
Points
johnalifsey 08/16/12 - 05:51 pm
4
1
Hold the funds!

I keep hearing that the powers to be (Tarbutton and Azziz, sepecially) say we'll get used to the name. They say it's not going to change it. WE'LL, TO HELL WITH THEM! I challenge everybody that gives money to either of these two schools to withhold all donations. DON'T GIVE THEM A DIME! I'm not saying don't donate. I'm saying put the money in Trust until they give in. If enough people do this, can you imagine how much money it would build up....MILLIONS! Then see what the Board of Regents think. Cut off the money supply until they give in...They'll have to...Come on all who donate! HOLD THE FUNDS!

johnalifsey
27
Points
johnalifsey 08/16/12 - 05:54 pm
4
1
If AZZIA wants use to move

If AZZIA wants use to move past the name, then that means a name means nothing to him. What if we see in in public and call him by another name, one not so proper. One with profane connotations. According to his way of thinking, I guess that would be just fine with him.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/16/12 - 06:45 pm
4
1
Dr Z says

"you under-estimate the intellectual capacity of (Regents)"

If anything was under-estimated, if you want to call it that, it was the influence of money and the Regents' negative perception of the city of Augusta and her voice.

charles6780
203
Points
charles6780 08/16/12 - 06:48 pm
3
1
Forum

Most people understood that the name would change, once the universities merged. What Azziz does not seem to comprehend is the dissatisfaction with the merged schools being named after an online school in Virginia, started by Pat Robertson. This was pushed through by him and the BOR even in the face of possible legal action. What a moronic name for both schools to have to suffer under. Azziz is obtuse and really needs to be brought up short as far as his ego is concerned. The forum settled nothing. 10 - 20 years with this moniker spells certain death for both institutions.

Just My Opinion
5277
Points
Just My Opinion 08/16/12 - 06:57 pm
5
1
One thing that I think

One thing that I think everyone here has forgotten is that little school up in Virginia who's thinking of suing for the naming rights. By the time this gets into court...if it gets that far...the name will have certainly been changed to GRU. However, if the BOR gets and earful from the public AND is aware of an imminent court case ($$$$$), then they might change their opinion. And, as far as their steadfastness on this name thing, how in the world can the BOR have such bravado and indifference to think themselves above everyone else? I mean, Azziz even said as much when he commented on how intelligent the BOR was and that we should pretty much bow down to them! Yeah, right. Maybe it's time a writer from the paper should start weeding through Azziz's past and dig up some dirt on him! Someone with his arrogance will definitely have some dirty laundry.

Ben There
56
Points
Ben There 08/16/12 - 07:05 pm
3
1
For Azziz to admonish the

For Azziz to admonish the Augusta community to get behind the new name and support it is the pinnacle of arrogance. Perhaps Azziz should take stock of the community he is currently in and get behind the community's wishes for it's new grand university to reflect the will and support of it's citizens. The man is a fool.

harrison0624
30
Points
harrison0624 08/16/12 - 07:06 pm
3
1
It takes a lot more to make a

It takes a lot more to make a college a national prestige than a name change. I love my alma mata ASU, but there are many things that would need to change in order for it to reach that , UGA, USC, UAL status. Like a football team, traditional campus housing, and many other things that I lost after transferring from SSU to ASU. So changing the name from one which the community had pride in that reflected the community and the people who live in it, was a poor decision on his part. But of course we all know he did not care. We can say all day long he don't care and he still WILL NOT CARE. We all know the name is garbage. He puckered up to the BOR and they happily obliged to drop their drawers. My question is why all the hype to get the students and community involved as if they had a say in the matter? Just to pick a name he had resting in his (or whoever's) front pocket. That is why I'm [filtered word]. I feel like he handled the situation poorly. Like we were to country and inbred to realize what was going on. He keeps talking about a name that will gain national recognition and bring pride to the "Georgia" and SAC. Is "Augusta" not something to be proud of? Is he saying that "Augusta" is trash?

Jake
31681
Points
Jake 08/16/12 - 07:16 pm
3
1
Protest

Umm.....just a thought. I have been reading about the dissatisfaction with the name since it was first announced and how this has galvanized the community against Dr. Azziz. So just how many people were at the forums? How many of you that are so vehemently opposed to the name, and post on here, actually went? Are any organized plans of protest in the works? At least make some sort of attempt at a public rally so the numbers of discontented people can be seen instead of just relying on the internet to expouse your contempt. In other words, demonstrate, even though many of you may associate that word with (God forbid) liberals. I am willing to bet more people showed up to eat at Chick-Fil-A than would show up for a demonstration unless, of course, it was a catered affair.

Gage Creed
15744
Points
Gage Creed 08/16/12 - 07:15 pm
4
0
If you take the position to

If you take the position to lead the train....the you assume the liablity for the train.

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 08/16/12 - 07:35 pm
4
0
Jake,

I was at the forum and it was catered, there were boxed lunches outside after... I didn't grab one, and I'm not sure if they were for the general public or not, but I didn't come for food.

You're not going to turn out of the masses for forums held at noon, during the week and when the hosting school is out for summer break... I was a little disappointed at first, but it filled in fairly well by the time the forum started and had it been on a weekend, I'd expect it to have been standing room only. I'm sure having this during the week and on lunch hour was somewhat planned.

And there will be protests, people calling state representative, the BOR's, Azziz's office and the Mayor... like I have done. Why are you not doing so is my question, since this whole process has been nothing but a lie and a waste of money...?

Give me your rationale for essentially agreeing with Azziz, the misinformation he's spewing and the need to move on? It's like a royal edict has been handed down from a medieval throne on high to its peasants... that's soooo 500 years ago, doesn't work anymore. Watch the video associated with this article and watch the last 30-45 seconds with his response to Mr. Steele (sp?), there is just no talking to the man (Azziz)!

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 08/16/12 - 07:36 pm
2
2
That's true, gage. But the
Unpublished

That's true, gage. But the engineer does not own or name the train.

MadeinAmerica
88
Points
MadeinAmerica 08/16/12 - 07:40 pm
4
1
Recall the student petition

Recall the student petition submitted a while back with 3 suggested names?? None of those names included Augusta; all included Georgia.

rmwhitley
5526
Points
rmwhitley 08/16/12 - 07:53 pm
0
0
azziz isn't
Unpublished

a Georgian but a Californian. He gets his paycheck whether true southerners care or . he certainly doesn't appear to give a hoot about the local families and people.

walrus4ever
354
Points
walrus4ever 08/16/12 - 07:56 pm
3
0
At the very least, add the

At the very least, add the notation "at Augusta" after the GRU. Not the exact outcome for The Citizens of Augusta or the BOR/Azziz. It would be a graceful concession for all parties. Otherwise let him migrate with his name changing ideas westward to Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge and see what part of his anatomy gets handed to him.

nnaugusta
533
Points
nnaugusta 08/16/12 - 08:07 pm
4
1
Just a thought here.....what

Just a thought here.....what businesses locally support (gives money to) the colleges, and this guy that calls himself a leader? I want to make certain I NEVER give them one dime of my money!

Staler172
282
Points
Staler172 08/16/12 - 08:20 pm
5
2
@made in america

Yes, you are correct! If I remember correctly, 1,700 people signed that petition to have "Georgia" in the name. So, many ASU and long time Augusta natives are upset, but a lot of people at GHSU aren't upset at all.
There was a ton of alumni that expressed their concerns to the BOR EARLY on in the process that Georgia stays in the name.

Now, can we all just move on and be excited about the huge cancer research building and the education commons center.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/16/12 - 08:21 pm
3
0
The timing was impeccable for

The timing was impeccable for the forums. I got the tone through tweets and watched the youtube when i got home. It's as grass roots as a anything Jake. The times they are a changing with the interweb. I digress. Even if Dr Z is everything he's been named, I still wantz zee money. But i'm not willing to play ball. Augusta is the imperative. Do i think my opposition amounts to significant gains? Yes

prov227
2924
Points
prov227 08/16/12 - 08:23 pm
2
0
Gonna be tough with ASU community

I think the GHSU/MCG community is less adverse to the new name. Seem to be more concerned about national scope (applying for residencies, jobs, etc.) and how the name will be viewed nationally on their CV.

On the other hand, President Azziz will have a task ahead of him gaining acceptance (other than those who receive a state paycheck) of the JCA, AC and ASU community. The community has been wounded deeply. A little sincere empathy and humility would help him. There is a definite problem with the trust factor.

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