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Community liaison for consolidated university announced

Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 2:36 PM
Last updated 8:33 PM
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Augusta banker Cedric Johnson will begin a new community liaison position for the consolidated Georgia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities even as GHSU officials eye both future cuts and growth.

Cedric Johnson  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
Cedric Johnson

Johnson confirmed that Tues­day will be his last at First Bank of Georgia, where he is a vice president and community development officer.

Johnson will be the director of community affairs in the Office of Government Relations and Community Af­fairs for what will eventually be called Georgia Regents University, a name he acknowledged is not sitting well with the Augusta community.

“I’m not sure if you can get folks on board with that, but I think what you do is you go forward and you try to of course bring money in so that we can expand the school so that people can see the progress that will be made,” Johnson said.

He will serve as a local liaison not only to Augusta leaders but also to Albany, Savannah and later Rome, where GHSU has satellite campuses, he said.

“What we’ll be trying to do is keep the community informed on the things that are going on in the campus in any way that we can integrate some of the things we’re doing on the campus with the community,” Johnson said.

The position has been in the works for more than a year and is not a reaction to the controversy over the name, said David Hefner, the executive vice president for clinical affairs. Rather, it is a way to better converse with the diverse communities where the university operates, he said.

“They are all idiosyncratic, as you would expect. They all have their own cultures and history,” Hefner said. “How do we work most effectively with that?”

The new position is a way to “partner with everyone to our mutual benefit,” GHSU Provost Gretchen Caughman said. “It’s essential that we all be on the same page and rowing in the same direction.”

Caughman and Hefner held town-hall meetings Tuesday to explain some growth initiatives, such as a new $100 million cancer research building, plans to reduce labor and supply costs, and a potential 3 percent to 5 percent cut in state appropriations.

The university system’s Board of Regents voted to include $45 million in bonds for the new cancer research building in its funding request for fiscal year 2014, which still must make it into Gov. Nathan Deal’s budget request and then be approved by the Georgia Legislature. It would allow the university to consolidate cancer services and research spread out across campus into a single location, tentatively across 15th Street where the school’s Alumni Center is, Hefner said.

“You’d have a comprehensive view of cancer where you could co-locate” the research and services, he said. That investment “should quell concerns about this campus being moved anywhere else.”

The 167,000-square foot Cancer Research Center opened in 2006 but has “a flexible floor plan” that is “adaptable to almost any kind of research,” Caughman said. The university is quickly running out of research space and when those labs come open they “will be clamored for,” she said.

The university and its clinical system have been told to prepare for a 3 percent and perhaps as much as 5 percent cut in state appropriations, which would be about $4 million to $6 million cut, Caughman said. The university plans to try to manage that and other future cuts through attrition, she said.

“We are going to take a hard look at every vacancy because it is a whole lot easier to look at a vacancy than a live person,” Caughman said.

The university is in the midst of a three-year plan to “reduce and recycle” $100 million in costs, including $41 million in labor, Hefner said. That included laying off about 100 people last year, but there are no current plans for layoffs, he said.

“Not if we can manage it through attrition,” Hefner said.

The plan not only reduces costs but also allows the university “to reinvest in ourselves and our growth areas in the ways that we have to in order to flourish and thrive,” Caughman said.

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Sweet son
10080
Points
Sweet son 08/21/12 - 02:56 pm
6
0
Ricky Ricardo is scared...................

to venture out into the community so he has Cedric to do it for him. What another waste of money. How many VPs and at what salaries does Ricky have? Check it out AC!

Hire another VP and run off the loyal people who have made MCG the institution that it is! Unbelievable!

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/21/12 - 02:59 pm
8
0
Less funding, more administration?

How can MCG add a "director of community affairs" and the host of other new bureaucratic positions when expecting to have its budget cut by $4 million to $6 million?

Typical Azziz.

crossyourarms
211
Points
crossyourarms 08/21/12 - 03:02 pm
7
0
1.2

1.2 administrators per faculty member.

Newsflash
1881
Points
Newsflash 08/21/12 - 03:02 pm
8
0
Two things .............

Two things you don't stand behind....A manure spreader and Dr. Azziz.........both will leave you smelling bad and only one is proven to stimulate growth.

Fiat_Lux
15108
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/21/12 - 04:22 pm
8
0
SSDD

Morale has never been this bad and old Cedric ain't gonna' help that. The name debacle was just the latest elbow to the throat of MCG employees. Not that the BOR gives us a second thought, or that Dr. D'isease does either for that matter. Just one more narrow canyon to push the cattle through.

Riverman1
82265
Points
Riverman1 08/21/12 - 05:20 pm
7
0
No Athens Liason

"He will serve as a local liaison not only to Augusta leaders but also to the communities of Albany, Savannah and later Rome, where GHSU has satellite campuses, he said."

So he doesn't deal with the OTHER satellite campus in Athens? I wonder why that is?

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 08/21/12 - 05:22 pm
8
0
Shades of Charles Larke

Remember, the former Richmond County Schools Superintendent Charles Larke had someone speak for him as well..that worked real well.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 08/21/12 - 07:01 pm
4
0
A Tariq Azziz

... for our own Tariq Azziz!

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/21/12 - 07:13 pm
4
0
Can anyone remember the last

Can anyone remember the last time our Tariq Azziz gave an interview to a news reporter?

star
643
Points
star 08/21/12 - 08:26 pm
3
0
Mr. Johnson

I think Cedric Johnson is a fine person and this appointment was smart on GHSU part, but before it is all over with, Mr Johnson will probably wish he was still at the bank. It will take a miracle, not Mr. Johnson, to help azziz.

NrthAugustaSam
473
Points
NrthAugustaSam 08/21/12 - 08:47 pm
3
0
soitgoes
786
Points
soitgoes 08/21/12 - 11:27 pm
1
2
Good luck, CJ

Your political career in Augusta (if you ever wanted one) is officially dead.

gab-a-tab
5
Points
gab-a-tab 08/21/12 - 11:36 pm
2
0
"... it is a way to better

"... it is a way to better converse with the diverse communities where the university operates, he said."

“...They all have their own cultures and history,” Hefner said. “How do we work most effectively with that?”

"The new position is a way to 'partner with everyone to our mutual benefit,' GHSU Provost Gretchen Caughman said. 'It’s essential that we all be on the same page and rowing in the same direction'.”

Apparently "working most effectively" with the "cultures and history" of GHSU's campuses does NOT include Augusta. Also, love the "partner with everyone to our MUTUAL benefit" and "be on the same page" quotes. What a joke after what they have done in dubbing these institutions which are full of history with the dubious, meaningless, millstone of a name, GRU. They'll "converse" with the community; and then do whatever they want, regardless of community input. Azziz has created a culture of distrust (obviously) and intimidation (it sounds like); who will give any credence to what is done by those who work on his behalf? The community is conversing with you now Dr. Azziz. Are you listening?

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 08/22/12 - 07:16 am
2
0
gab-a-tab

The community is conversing with you now Dr. Azziz. Are you listening?

Azziz was asked what he thought about all the comments in the Augusta Chronicle and he said he has not been reading the paper and would not for about a month. So, I guess he is not listening.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 08/22/12 - 10:58 am
1
0
bdouglas

Far as I can see, it says Augusta banker. So, I don't think he will be leaving a high-paying job in Atlanta and moving here. I think he lives here. He is on other boards as well here in town.

toppergem
125
Points
toppergem 08/22/12 - 11:03 am
1
0
Congratulations Cedric!!!

I know you took this new position because you felt you could help in this period of consolidation and transition. I also know you will do all that you can to help create better communication between all parties involved. I look forward to all of the good you will bring to this community in your new endeavor...but I will miss you at First Bank. You were one of the reasons I chose to do my business with them in the first place. I wish you nothing but the best!

bdouglas
4899
Points
bdouglas 08/22/12 - 12:41 pm
1
0
@Tullie You're right. I guess

@Tullie You're right. I guess I read too fast.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 08/22/12 - 01:28 pm
1
0
Mixed Metaphor

From the story:

GHSU Provost Gretchen Caughman said. “It’s essential that we all be on the same page and rowing in the same direction.”

Wouldn't that metaphor have worked better if Gretchen had said, “. . . be on the same page and writing in the same direction?”

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 08/22/12 - 01:27 pm
2
0
MCGHSUGRUTBA

When I read bdouglas' 12:42 post, all I could think about was

GRUTABAGA

It could be named the official vegetable of the new grooo.

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 08/22/12 - 06:09 pm
3
0
Pull the plug on Azziz

Can someone with "social media" savvy please create an online petition to have Ricardo Azziz removed from office? Please!

grinder48
1884
Points
grinder48 08/23/12 - 10:03 am
0
0
Bad move
Unpublished

Bet Johnson will come to reGRUt that move. Remember, no more financial support for GRUnt ...

jackets55
27
Points
jackets55 08/23/12 - 05:17 pm
0
0
BS

Sure, the position wasn't filled because of the current backlash. I believe it don't you? And what is this stuff about coordinating with the other communities because they have their own "history and culture." Why, you want to screw them also? It is unfathomable to me why people in the community support this kind of behind closed door BS.

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