Education

More News | |

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
  • Follow Education

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.

Back | Next
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.”

Comments (139) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/16/12 - 08:23 pm
3
0
Staler, might I remind you

Staler, might I remind you who is on the top of The Hill?

Jake
32320
Points
Jake 08/16/12 - 08:25 pm
3
1
tckr1983

My initial reaction from the get-go is that the GRU name stinks. I thought a better one could have been chosen.
I stated this yesterday and I will repeat myself today. IF the name can be changed then change it. IF not then then learn to live with it. IF you can't live with it then what are you and the community going to do about it other than complain? Complaining and a $1.50 will get you a coffee at Starbucks.
That is why I am advocating a PHYSICAL show of people out in the streets who are dissatisfied. Show the community and state how you feel. Complaining on the AC site is not going to get you any closer to your goal, it just gives you an avenue to vent your frustrations.
I have been a commenter on here for quite a few years and I have rarely seen this much outrage over any issue, except for maybe the Obama election.
As far as what I have been doing about this, I am doing nothing. I am only a commenter who used to live in Augusta for about 30 yrs but now lives in California but I pay my $6.95 a month so I make comments.
Again, make a physical show of force in the streets (legally) and see if there are any news agencies (other than the AC) who will latch on to this story so you can get your voice heard. If not, see what legal recourse you have.
Whatever happens, the interest of the university should be foremost in the Augusta area despite what it is called.

The1Justice
58
Points
The1Justice 08/16/12 - 08:26 pm
0
0
GRU
Unpublished

I Graduated from Georgia Regional University with Honors, sorry Georgia Regents University

peggyandrick
169
Points
peggyandrick 08/16/12 - 08:31 pm
2
0
Two unasked questions

There are two questions I wish had been asked. With money from the state being cut every year, how does he think he is going to succeed with no alumni support.
Also, he kept talking about making this GRUsome school into a big school. Where will he put it. ASU sits on six blocks of some of the most expensiv real estate in Augusta. There is no room for more. Oh well, I am sure that one of the 75 committees he controls will come up with something. Maybe in Athens.
Finally, for those who haven't figured out why the Mayor of Regentsville is sucking up to the Wizard of Az, who holds the keys to Deke's only interest, baseball on the river. Wizard Az, of course.

Fiat_Lux
15107
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/16/12 - 09:00 pm
2
0
How about an injunction?

Apart from Regents of Virginia, is there any option for local citizens to seek an injunction from having the BOR's choice made the legal name?

It's important to act very quickly because Azziz already has a PR team making videos for prospective students and other universities. He informed us this afternoon (at GHSU) that he already is sending out material to every medical school in the country, and probably beyond, joyfully announcing "our new name", oh, hallelujah!

There is absolutely no time to waste on this if there is any hope at all of stopping this tyranny from the BOR.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 08/16/12 - 09:04 pm
3
2
Good points, jake...and this
Unpublished

Good points, jake...and this will die away quickly. People's attention spans are only so long. Unfortunately, that also goes for more important, principled things, than just getting feelings hurt over a new name. The conventions are just around the corner and the election not far off. That should keep people riled up on here for awhile.

sand gnat
470
Points
sand gnat 08/16/12 - 09:09 pm
2
0
"Medical School will not move"

Note Azziz says that the medical school will not move to Athens while under his tenure as president. That is the only truth that he has spoken.
The medical school WILL move to UGA, Athens after the BOR names him the new president of UGA, replacing Adams. Hand writing is on the wall. Azziz dislikes Augusta as much as he is disliked. He can't wait to get to Athens, taking the program with him when he assumes his "new tenure" as president of UGA.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 08/16/12 - 09:21 pm
0
0
I'll say it again.
Unpublished

Boycott everything that is associated with Azziz. Cut all of the money going into the institutions and then tell him to get his Azz out of town. Then things will change.

We could start another ASU with the money that does not go to Azz and his pipe dream.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/16/12 - 09:25 pm
2
0
optimus gnat

optimus gnat

mrsmikep
25
Points
mrsmikep 08/16/12 - 09:39 pm
4
0
GRU Alumni anyone?

Am I the only one that finds it Ironic that the Board of Regents were never informed of the name survey regarding the final 3 names which depicted GRU as a LAST choice? And that Dr. A let the BOR know that GRU was his first choice? AND that none of this was made public until AFTER the BOR made their decision? GRU Alumni Bumper sticker anyone?

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 08/16/12 - 10:03 pm
5
0
They saw the survey, they

They saw the survey, they said so. You just have to use your decoding skills. "We have no recollection" is code for we are lying, but you'll never prove it.

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 08/16/12 - 10:18 pm
4
0
Jake-

Other news outlets are reporting on this: Columbus Ledger, AJC and the Sacramento Bee to name a few... all of them reporting that this is a decision leveled down from the "Ivory Tower" as the sham it truly is.

Again, I was at the forum today... which is more than most people can say and Azziz knows, whether he'll admit it publicly or not, that he's kicked a hornets nest in the area and there are protests already announced if I'm not mistaken. I'm sure it's not going to be the million man march or anything, but it'll be the biggest display this area has seen in a while on any issue I'd venture to guess.

When he has students yelling out "we don't trust you" in the forums, he's blowing people off left and right, lying and insulting our intelligence with stuff that is documented in print... it's a little bit different animal than any I've ever seen in my 30 years of living in Augusta.

Jake
32320
Points
Jake 08/16/12 - 11:14 pm
2
2
tckr1983

Sometimes change is hard. Let's see how this pans out and if there are enough folks committed to make a change. If not this is all moot.
BTW, I am not a big fan of people yelling out in a setting that has rules of decorum. I don't care if you are for or against a person.

showboat
330
Points
showboat 08/17/12 - 12:05 am
0
0
I BET THAT WOMAN AT ASU IS
Unpublished

I BET THAT WOMAN AT ASU IS SAYING WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING IN AUGUSTA WITH AZ????????????

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 08/17/12 - 02:08 am
5
1
A stranger amongst us

This man has no ties to this area, no loyalty to the school, and cares absolutely NOTHING for the people who will be MOST affected by the name change - again. A few years ago when the school became a university it underwent a name change; a VERY few years ago untold amounts of money was spent changing the name of the Medical College of Georgia, a well respected school with a recognizable name. Now all this money has been spent on a study to determine the name of a consolidated school, which in my opinion NEVER should have happened in the first place, and this man is totally incognizant of the effect the name will have in the years to come. It is apparent that the Board of Regents needs to come to Augusta for some public meetings before this name is put into effect. No time and the deadline is 1 October? How much time does it TAKE to tell the board of regents that the chosen name is NOT sufficient and the name chosen by the most people should be installed. As a former student and also as one whose family spent many years on the faculty there I believe that I alone should have more power than this man who has come from afar to decide what this local university should be named. Added to my input has been the input of thousands of others and the name chosen by all of those should be the new name. An earlier story indicated that the regents either didn't know about the survey or had never been given the result - now comes this man to put his own decision into place. I agree with most of the others here, he's not to be trusted and probably should be gone from the school and take "his" name with him. Someone in authority notify the board of regents that his chosen name is not acceptable.

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 08/17/12 - 02:21 am
3
1
Medical College, Augusta or Athens?

It has been my contention all along that the medical college will in time abandon its long time home in Augusta for Athens where the University of Georgia is located. I'm hoping that Dr Azziz will NOT be the next president of the University of Georgia. Dr Adams caused enough trouble there - it's time to give alumni a rest from the assault from the top. Augusta State University is NOT the personal property of Dr Azziz so he should have really no stake in naming the new school. There IS a reason though that the University was able to gain the old naval school property, which had been in operation many years, for its new medical college campus. In time what was once a great medical college might well be outstripped by Mercer School of Medicine which now has a Savannah campus as well, particularly if people who have their own agenda are allowed to run roughshod over alumni and students.

augustarookie
300
Points
augustarookie 08/17/12 - 02:44 am
4
1
Arrogance

Azziz is showing his arrogance. This is should not be a kingdom. Of course, the forum at MCG was less hostile....it contained many who work down there and can't afford to speak out too much.

KSL
126418
Points
KSL 08/17/12 - 03:06 am
2
1
If Azizz was dissatisfied

If Azizz was dissatisfied with Augusta, why would he want to go to Athens? I have lived there.

KSL
126418
Points
KSL 08/17/12 - 03:13 am
2
1
His goals are much larger,

His goals are much larger, though he may see Athens aa a needed stepping stone. I hope not. I will do my part to alert my family that they should not want him.

justputtin
1384
Points
justputtin 08/17/12 - 06:10 am
2
0
Wow

Assiz is such a tool. Would anyone expect anything different from this clown? When my ego was fragile I could never admit mistakes. Grow up doc!

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 08/17/12 - 06:52 am
4
1
A suggested simple solution to a very arrogant problem

Have the Student Body hold an election.
Have the AC run a vote once poll vote:

Have 3 items on the ballot:

1. A vote of NO Confidence for President Azzi. Yes/No
2. A vote of No Confidence for the Georgia Board of Regents Yes/No.
3. List the 3 top school names in the national survey.
a. ___________ b. ___________ c._________ (pick one)

Then the career dispensation lights might click on in their heads.
Because what future educational system would be willing to hire a new president that had a Vote of NO Confidence by the student body and the community?

OnTheHill1
345
Points
OnTheHill1 08/17/12 - 07:48 am
3
1
A Question Not Asked

I was at the ASU forum yesterday and was in line about to ask this question when time ran out: "Whether real or perceived, the majority of the community's complaints has been about the lack of transparency in the renaming process, ignoring the majority opinion, abuse of power and wasting money. What specific changes do you plan to make in your administration in arriving at important future decisions that affect the community that will avoid a reaction such as this?" I later thought, I could have added, "And I know at the end of the day, change is hard." But that would have been catty, as he used both these terms multiple times. When he was rattled in the last 1/2 hour, he really ramped up, "at the end of the day".

Though I was not at the MCG forum, I heard he said to a question about his reaction to the articles in the Chronicle and the many posts here, "I'm not reading the Chronicle, and will not for about a month." This seems like another slap in the face, head in the sand, I don't care about the community's reaction, and maybe most importantly a thumb in the nose of Billy Morris who resigned from his board.

A question not asked; but no harm, his answer would just have meaningless rhetoric.

OnTheHill1
345
Points
OnTheHill1 08/17/12 - 08:55 am
3
1
My friends, do not forfeit your freedoms

Written by an out of town friend when I explained our dispute:

Our forefathers as well as young men today have died and are dying for freedom. One must ask what freedom means. More than the individual freedoms we take for granted, there is the freedom from tyranny. The freedom to have our voices heard the freedom to decide our future and certainly the freedom to name our schools after our great city.

The name of our great city is Augusta; those of us who are from this city are not ashamed of our town. Unfortunately our voices have been silenced, our freedom has been stolen our destiny usurped by the arrogance of one man.

Our constitution was written with two central and unalienable truths; first that our freedoms are guaranteed by our declaration of independence and that there is to be no absolute power to take these freedoms from us. Power in America is balanced and that balance is controlled by the people. But not in Augusta, There are kings in Augusta, Regents if you wish, who have absolute power. Kings who can treat employees as they wish, Kings who can spend your tax dollars as they wish, Kings who answer to no one.

My friends, do not forfeit your freedoms for too many have died to save them.

sstea
1184
Points
sstea 08/17/12 - 08:38 am
3
0
“Our students need to have

“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.”

Where's the value in my diploma that reads "Augusta State University"? A school that will no longer exist! I guess that is not one of Dr. Azziz's concerns?

mike1sc
217
Points
mike1sc 08/17/12 - 09:00 am
2
1
Azziz

What are all the little people fretting about. Azziz is much more intelligent than any local yahoos! Seriously, does this really surprise anyone who has watched "The Little Dictator" since he has arrived in our local area....it is his way or the highway, and the highway, where all the funding would go, right down the highway to Athens, if he doesn't get his way.

Have to give him credit with one thing.....he didn't back down in the slightest with all the negative comments sent his way yesterday at the two forums....I wonder if he even heard them! Probably not!

Little Dictator! That has a nice ring to it....yeah!

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/17/12 - 09:01 am
2
0
Jake

regarding "not a big fan of people yelling out in a setting that has rules of decorum"

How big of a fan are you of "one person telling many that they should close their mouths and let the grownups talk?" passively aggressively mind you.

rebellious
20630
Points
rebellious 08/17/12 - 09:03 am
1
0
Stolen from the movie IRobot

Stolen from the movie IRobot and adapted to ASU/GHSU/GRU current controversy.

• First Law: Azziz must propel the combined Academic and Medical schools in Augusta to National prominence, at all costs.
•Second Law: The Regents must obey any orders given to it by Azziz, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
•Third Law: Azziz must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead.

Edward1968
547
Points
Edward1968 08/17/12 - 09:40 am
3
2
The Heart of the Matter

If the GRU name change fails, as it should, Azziz will be even more difficult than he is now. The name change not going his way may even make him look to leaving Augusta. This would be the best thing that could happen for MCG, ASU, and our area in general.

...point to ponder
743
Points
...point to ponder 08/17/12 - 09:58 am
1
0
naming...rebranding

One of the responses the President gave was, "“The value won’t be immediately after you graduate, by the way. It’ll be 10 to 20 years from now.” Board of Regents members are you listening to what your employee just stated...sorta in defense of your decision to make this name change....that it will take 10 to 20 years to create value in this name change! Is this the kind of decision you're 'playing' with to see if something works?

There was already tremendous value in the exisiting names...names that mean something around the community, the state and the nation.

To the Board of Regents and the Governor... correct this error in judgment...correct this erroneous change...moving forward with this new name will cost your political party a hundred years of angst (*this is a Republican Governor and the Board of Regents is mostly Republican too!) The members of the local legislative team need to support their constituents and put pressure on the Governor to correct this malfeasance in judgement. Take note of who stands up for the community and who just follows the Governor and the BOR.

I'd like to hear why the Board of Regents thought it was a good idea to change MCG's name the first time and then why they thought it was a good idea to combine the schools (*to save funds..right.) and then why "they" thought it was a good idea to change the name again?

Combining the schools(*trying to mix oil and water in this case) for efficiency does not require name changing when, in fact, the current names have so much value to the community, the state and the nation...*The names were not 'broken'...the institutions did not need re-branding...

10 to 20 years, Azzizi said, before “The value won’t be immediately after you graduate, by the way. It’ll be 10 to 20 years from now.”..........bad judgment...Augustan's cannot afford it for the next 10 to 20 years!

RevMike815
6
Points
RevMike815 08/17/12 - 10:04 am
4
0
College Origin

Many people probably do not know that Richmond Academy first housed Augusta College; in fact the administration of Richmond Academy wanted to expand it. This College/University has deep and abiding roots in Augusta and to ignore this is to imply that the diplomas with Augusta College and Augusta State on them are worth very little. You can forget national branding if you don’t have local branding support. The whole thing is really all about “nickels and numbers” and with this name you can kiss the “nickels and numbers” goodbye.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Officers tell of trauma from taking life

Although every experience is different, officers who take a life often experience severe bouts of depression, alcoholism, marital problems, sleepless nights and feelings of being alone in the ...
Search Augusta jobs