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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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Jake
34136
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Jake 08/17/12 - 09:10 am
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David Parker

Not a big fan of that either. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Cynical old woman
1112
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Cynical old woman 08/17/12 - 09:14 am
1
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What do we do

At this point other than rant on this forum? I understand the name may not change but I also understand this outrage should not change either. It's obvious the LD (little dictator) does not care about public opinion yet fears it....per the Austin Rhodes show LD has major security surrounding him now. Guess he's heard how we redneck Georgians handle some things, huh?

What do we do now? Who do we go to in order for our voices to still be heard? Have CNN and/or FOX been contacted? Could Billy Morris head up a group to continue the protest?

nnaugusta
533
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nnaugusta 08/17/12 - 09:31 am
1
0
I there a way to find out

I there a way to find out which local businesses actively support this guy and HIS new GRU?

nnaugusta
533
Points
nnaugusta 08/17/12 - 09:33 am
1
0
double post sorry

double post sorry

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 08/17/12 - 10:41 am
3
2
Azziz for president

The current Democratic candidate for president of the Untied (formerly United) States of America should be replaced by Dr. Azziz. Both show the same arrogant condescending attitude and Dr. Azziz could do a lot more damage at the national level. He could choose his favorite member of the Board of Regents for vice president and fill key cabinet positions with the rest of them...Heck, he could even rename the country.

ridesbrd
114
Points
ridesbrd 08/17/12 - 10:47 am
3
4
Has the picketing and letter

Has the picketing and letter writing campaign begun yet? oh wait its all internet talk and no action......

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 08/17/12 - 11:58 am
1
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great example ridesbrd, I

great example ridesbrd, I guess it's enough to capture your attention. Haha, nice try though. :)

galaxygrl
1350
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galaxygrl 08/17/12 - 12:05 pm
4
1
Augusta's Voice

I have spent the morning calling and emailing our local representatives from Richmond and Columbia counties. A couple have called me back and one really good point was made. Governor Deal has a part to play in this and he has been silent. Also why isn't there representation on the BOR from the Augusta area? These are questions I will be asking and I hope you will too.
Another thing, 10 of the BOR members are from UGA. Why isn't there a more balanced approached to the BOR? How many people are represented from Ga Tech, Georgia Southern and all of the other schools in our state? Why not representatives from Mercer, Emory and Agnes Scott? Maybe it's time to change how the regents are selected.

Staler172
282
Points
Staler172 08/17/12 - 07:13 pm
2
2
Remember, 1,700 people signed

Remember, 1,700 people signed a petition to have 'GEORGIA' in the name.

Let's move on and join forces by making this a great University. I'm actually excited that maybe the undergrad section (ASU) of GRU might increase outside Augusta enrollment because of having a great Med and Dental School attached. This is not all bad news...

KSL
144844
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KSL 08/17/12 - 12:39 pm
1
0
Whoa, whoa, whoa

Granted, I have been gone from the state of Georgia for decades and may not be up to date, but when did Emory, Agnes Scott and Mercer become state schools?

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 08/17/12 - 12:49 pm
1
0
ya think?I've been waiting

ya think?

I've been waiting anxiously for Gubna Deal to weigh in. The mayor played his part, literally, by siding with the money. I think it's his calling card from what alot of those who keep tabs on him tell me.

I would've respected honesty had it been offered. The regents could've said "It's our name on the check and its gonna be our name on the new U." Dr Z could've said "I am going to get these Fat Cats to buy into a scheme that will bring $100m to Augusta, but they're going to want to name it after themselves. I'd respectfully disagree but respect nonetheless.

Instead, the powers that be chose to put on this ruse and made the people of Augusta the butt of a bad joke.

To all those calling people out for not leaving their 9-5 to go sit in the choreographed "forums" yesterday, gimme a break. I have to believe you have something better to do than criticize our lament. I hope you do. Maybe you don't.

KSL
144844
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KSL 08/17/12 - 01:10 pm
1
0
Well said,

David Parker. I salute all who were able to go and speak out, even if it did little good, falling on arrogant ears. Azziz's attitude is beyond despicable.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 08/17/12 - 01:15 pm
1
1
From the Board of Regents Website

I found this when I was looking for the BOR contact info:

Regents approve new names for two remaining consolidating institutions

Atlanta — August 7, 2012

As of today there are now new names for all four new institutions being created as a result of the consolidation of eight current colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia. The Board of Regents approved today names for the final two pairs of consolidating institutions, following earlier action in May on names for the other two pairs.

The Board approved the name South Georgia State College for the consolidated institutions of South Georgia College (Douglas) and Waycross College (Waycross) and Georgia Regents University for the consolidation in Augusta of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University.

The new names will be effective upon the new institutions receiving approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Board of Regents in January 2013.

“While a tremendous amount of work and effort is underway as we create new institutions through the consolidation process, the name is a powerful symbol that will give focus and direction to the process,” said Shelley Nickel, associate vice chancellor for Planning and Implementation in presenting the proposed names to the Board.

Nickel outlined to the Board the extensive process followed by the consolidation working groups to solicit from sources in local communities and on the four campuses both information and suggestions. In the case of Augusta, the working group also used the services of the A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research at Kennesaw State University to conduct national opinion research.

The effort resulted in the development and final submission to the regents the top name recommendations of the consolidation working groups.

In May, the board approved the name University of North Georgia for the new institution created through the consolidation of North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega and Gainesville State College as well as the name Middle Georgia State College for the consolidation of Middle Georgia College in Cochran and Macon State College.

KSL
144844
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KSL 08/17/12 - 01:26 pm
1
1
Kind of contradicts what we

Kind of contradicts what we have been told, doesn't it?

agrit
180
Points
agrit 08/17/12 - 01:42 pm
1
1
Yes KSL

If, I'm not mistaken, a complete contradction from what was said yesterday in at least one forum.

NrthAugustaSam
504
Points
NrthAugustaSam 08/17/12 - 02:41 pm
2
1
"At the End of the Day"

He needs to leave. Soon.

charles6780
203
Points
charles6780 08/17/12 - 02:49 pm
2
0
Yes - Tullie the blog says it all

If you have not had a chance to read the AJC blog - check it out and the comments. They too seem to feel that we have been pegged with a lackluster name. We can only hope that the little school in Virginia presses on with a lawsuit. Read at your leisure.
http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/08/08/whats-in-a-name-if-its...

Techfan
6462
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Techfan 08/17/12 - 03:30 pm
1
0
Looking back at the comments

Looking back at the comments when Azziz changed MCG to GHSU. A few were outraged ( I was. It's my Alma Mater.) A few were ticked due to the cost. Most were in favor. Now they come changing the name of "Augusta" State U. and folks are ready for torches and pitchforks. It's a shame folks didn't get interested when Azziz first arrived. Maybe all of this could have been nipped in the bud. But then, MCG didn't have the hallowed name "Augusta" in its title, did it? We must make people think of the Masters, even if it's in the back of their minds, when they're searching for a school.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 08/17/12 - 04:31 pm
1
0
Check this out

Since Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has a say in approving GRU I went to their website to see who to get in touch with there are found this from The Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement 2012

http://www.sacscoc.org/principles.asp

The Commission on Colleges expects integrity to govern the operation of
institutions and for institutions to make reasonable and responsible decisions consistent with the spirit of integrity in all matters. Therefore, evidence ofwithholding information, providing inaccurate information to the public, failing to provide timely and accurate information to the Commission, or failing to conduct a candid self-assessment of compliance with the Principles of Accreditation and to submit this assessment to the Commission, and other similar practices will be seen as the lack of a full commitment to integrity.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 08/17/12 - 06:29 pm
0
0
Word Techfan!

That's always been the rub. Getting the timing right. Laziness! IT is what it is. I was downtown and the storm hit today and now I can only think it deserving that the Gods are making some noise and hanging a shadow over us. Is it me or is it the folks in Atlanta causing the ruckus? I don't get it. Good Grieff! So I'll put this on my action list for Monday and get down at the Corduroy Road show tonight at Stillwater. What can I say? Augusta for life baby!

Little Lamb
49260
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Little Lamb 08/17/12 - 08:39 pm
0
0
Out Here

It didn't rain out here, David. Was there any street flooding downtown?

galaxygrl
1350
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galaxygrl 08/17/12 - 09:41 pm
0
0
Private Universities

KSL, I knew someone would bring it up. I am merely saying we have many fine institutions of higher learning with a large resource pool to choose from for the BOR. Certainly the BOR regulates but that doesn't have to keep someone from one of these schools off the BOR.

jmo
18688
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jmo 08/17/12 - 10:52 pm
0
1
From the lead photo

From the lead photo I already don't like the "Yes Woman" standing in the background. She looks to be hanging on his next word. It appears she knows better than to cross Assis. Apparently she knows who signs her paycheck.

KSL
144844
Points
KSL 08/17/12 - 11:10 pm
1
0
Galaxy

I would agree. The board is packed with UGA grads. The regent who is a friend of mine is not a GA grad though.

KSL
144844
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KSL 08/17/12 - 11:12 pm
1
0
It looks like she had been

It looks like she had been told to keep her mouth shut. If you look at the slide show, you can see some very interesting body language on the part of both of them.

KSL
144844
Points
KSL 08/17/12 - 11:24 pm
1
0
jmo, I thought the same

jmo, I thought the same thing. Now look at Azziz's.

Your spellchecker did the same as mine and caused me to get an email from Sean. You see a word typed correctly and your eye moves on. The dastardly little brain in your tablet steps in to make changes.

OnTheHill1
347
Points
OnTheHill1 08/18/12 - 10:22 am
0
1
Did Azziz Think The Masters Branded Augusta?

If the name "Augusta" already had a recognizable brand because of the Masters, why would an intelligent person not want to build on that foundation instead of having to wait up to 20 years to brand a new name (his answer to one of the last questions at the ASU forum)?

In an earlier post I speculated that he wanted sole claim to branding the new U name and not have to share the glory with Augusta National. After his answer Thursday, I think I have another explanation. Azziz genuinely does not believe that the Masters gives "Augusta" anything special. With "Augusta" and "Georgia Regents University" on equal footing at the onset, his sole criteria would be that the new U name and acronym be different. Azziz has said "University of Augusta/UA" are not unique. Therefore he found and concluded "Georgia Regents University/GRU" as a unique name/acronym that would not be confused with other brands.

How could Azziz not know "Augusta" is already a recognizable brand? Couple guesses: (1) he is not a golfer and (2) he has toured the course a couple times on the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Red Carpet Tour (so has never fought for tickets). My bet in 2011 is he asked his staff to just pick up some tickets for he and his family, thinking his exalted position as the President of MCG would give him a leg up. Poor staffer who had to tell him the reality of getting a ticket. He/she was probably summarily fired. He probably thinks the tournament is a nice local, regional event and that the grounds are pretty, but he has a garden in the back of his house just as nice. And the Masters is only 1 week a year so his superior intellect concluded the tournament gives the name "Augusta" nothing.

When he lobbied the BOR on the GRU name, he saw no downside, because he had historically received a pass from the press, local political and business leadership (certainly not the community) on other controversial issues, closing Laney Walker, the 1st name change to GHSU, calling Augusta not cool, etc.

The press took their kid gloves off when the $45.5K study was exposed as ignored and Billy Morris resigned from the board. Since that time, this newspaper, the TV and local leaders have relentlesly unearthed the details that have irrefutably labeled the naming process as a scam, at the least, and an actionable fraud, at the most.

Whether this explanation is true or not, Azziz exercised incredibly poor judgement in not telling the truth. He will continue to exhibit the same behaviors in the future because that is how he is wired. If continued press, local leadership and community angst is levied against any and all of Azziz's future initiatives, he will eventually tire of Augusta and move on. In my mind the sooner the better.

Staler172
282
Points
Staler172 08/18/12 - 10:40 am
1
0
@onthehill

I think you've seriously lost your mind...read what you just wrote. All I can say is, really?!?

Let me guess, the U.S. never landed on the Moon right, because with all of your theories and opinions you must be into conspiracies...?

gcap
290
Points
gcap 08/18/12 - 05:43 pm
0
1
GRU might not be the problem...

...after all. The academic future of our good institutions (MCG and ASU) may be in jeapardy. Many private and state universities have medical schools in addition to liberal arts, law, and business schools. How many of them have medical doctors as university presidents? Many MDs don't communicate very well, don't manage well at all, have few leadership skills, and think nobody else can do anything as well as they might. Hey, doc, let a real leader take the helm!

Rebelbuyer
30
Points
Rebelbuyer 08/18/12 - 06:18 pm
0
0
Give Azziz the boot!
Unpublished

And we thought that Yankee's coming down here and telling us how to run things was the worst thing in the world. Now it seems that Uruguayan foreigners have them beat. Enough with this third world demagog. Why doesn't he employ his superior brain in fixing South America?

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