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Azziz fields questions about faculty morale, name at university merger forums

Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 2:58 PM
Last updated Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 2:52 AM
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Without a raise in years and with the added strain of consolidating Georgia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities, the faculty and staff are suffering, a GHSU faculty member said Friday.

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Attendance was sparse as Augusta State Interim President Shirley Strum Kenny and Georgia Health Sciecnes University President Ricardo Azziz took questions during a town hall meeting Friday.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Attendance was sparse as Augusta State Interim President Shirley Strum Kenny and Georgia Health Sciecnes University President Ricardo Azziz took questions during a town hall meeting Friday.

“Morale is at an all-time low at this institution,” said Dr. Rhea-Beth Markowitz, the director of grant development for the GHSU Cancer Center. “The consolidation may be great, but it is killing us.”

GHSU President Ricardo Azziz and ASU Interim President Shirley Strum Kenny held two forums Friday, one at each institution, now a monthly practice to address concerns about the consolidation. Audience members at both meetings raised questions about morale and continued objections to the chosen name of the new institution, Georgia Regents University.

At GHSU, Azziz acknowledged that the lack of raises is a serious problem.

“It’s something we are going to have to face,” he said.

The university had planned to try to address it this year before it was notified of an additional $10 million cut, Azziz said.

Any across-the-board raises would have to be funded by the Legislature and approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, he said.

Instead, it might be handled “unit by unit” to address individual situations and morale, Azziz said. Kenny urged faculty and staff members to contact legislators to ask them to provide more resources for the consolidated university.

Azziz also fielded the now most controversial question and gave a familiar answer: The name Georgia Regents University, picked by the Board of Regents for the new institution, will not change.

“They’ve been very clear they are not going to revisit that,” Azziz said.

Brian Killips, an Evans High School teacher and ASU alumnus, asked Azziz to apologize for pushing the GRU name on the University System Board of Regents. Killips said the community is upset not only with the unfavorable name but also with the process, which included ignoring the results of a $45,000 national survey that ranked GRU less favorably than other possible names.

“The entire city and state is upset,” Killips said. “As a result, unfortunately, you’ve become a pariah in the city. … This was not a good idea.”

Other members in the ASU audience were just as straightforward with Azziz and voiced their outrage at the president.

“The name Regents is repulsive to me,” said ASU Alumni Association member Catherine Rutland. “It is not American. We don’t like rulers; we don’t like people who don’t listen to the will of the people. It’s like beating your head against that brick wall head of yours that nothing gets into.”

Azziz acknowledged that some people are upset because Augusta does not appear in the name but said the city names were removed in all four university consolidations the regents approved this year.

“In those (other) three situations they were creating a regional university,” Azziz said. He said it was part of the university president’s job to take the heat for the decision.

“We are going to be blamed for pretty much anything that happens,” Azziz said. “My job is to take blows and keep moving and try to keep our vision (on track).”

Asked directly whether he lobbied for the name, Azziz said it was part of his job to brief his bosses on the pros and cons of the three names submitted.

“If I was asked, I would give them my recommendation,” he said, but there was also an “extraordinarily heavy” campaign from people in Augusta for another name with Augusta in it.

Apart from showing distaste for the GRU name, students at ASU had questions about how the new campus will function. Kenny said she would like to have a smoking policy finalized before she ends her interim presidency in January and would like to create more programs focused on improving student achievement.

Kenny also said she would do what she can to prevent students’ from having to pay a proposed additional fee to have ASU instead of GRU printed on their diplomas.

In response to a question about what role the faculty would have in shared governance, Azziz said that instructors will have a stronger role in academic issues but that budget issues are “more complex.”

In all the topics discussed, Kenny and Azziz urged students, faculty and residents to embrace the consolidation. Azziz said even the GRU name will bring more recognition and strength to the new school, which only one speaker fully agreed with.

“I think it’s going to be forwarding for us,” said Claude Harris Jr., an ASU psychology student. “Change is often uncomfortable, and it takes time to get used to it. … The fact is it’s still in Augusta, which makes it more great. It’s not leaving. I’m with it.”

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omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 09/07/12 - 03:20 pm
10
0
don't forget the story about

don't forget the story about the administrator raises from 2011.... some of them were close to having their salaries doubled..

the cream doesn't always rise to the top. sometimes it curdles.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 09/07/12 - 03:30 pm
4
9
It will eventually trickle
Unpublished

It will eventually trickle down. Mr. Romney says so.

Fiat_Lux
16246
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/07/12 - 03:48 pm
10
0
SSDD

He will never, ever, ever change his mantra. And morale has never, ever, ever been this low in the 30+ years of my association with MCG.

They can give us millions upon millions for buildings and exciting programs to make us a medical hotspot, but they just can't seem to find money to give people even cost-of-living raises. And employee morale is in the toilet.

I just wonder how he will decide who deserves the pittances they will hand out. I guarantee, it won't be "the little people" whose salaries have shrunk to something much less than a living wage over the past 6 years. Even many of the highly-paid MDs have long been disgusted about this.

Fiat_Lux
16246
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/07/12 - 03:56 pm
9
0
They think they're going to attract great people

but it's not going to happen if they can't attract committed and competent support staff. And that simply isn't going to happen with the salaries they are offering. (See http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2012-08-17/ghsu-lab-tech-...)

The competent people working here now are too old to go elsewhere, are stuck here in Augusta for some reason, or are just committed to staying here regardless. That won't last forever, and it sure won't cover the grandiose ideas that Azziz has for expanding things.

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 09/07/12 - 04:12 pm
9
0
The head of ASU's Public

The head of ASU's Public Safety has received over a $17,000.00 pay increase since June 1 and his wife, who was Dr. Bloodworth's secretary has received a $10,000.00 pay increase since June. These raises were handed out by Bloodworth on his way out the door.

Discussionstarter
495
Points
Discussionstarter 09/07/12 - 04:17 pm
2
9
Let's look at this another way

Augusta has been very fortunate to weather the economic challenges.... better than most any area in the State of Georgia. Be glad that we have jobs being created in the CSRA and that we have MCG and ASU that both have growth on their horizon. I may not agree with how Dr. A has implemented some of his changes.... but I do support his vision and desire to take us to the next level.

SON of Scoob
442
Points
SON of Scoob 09/08/12 - 02:12 pm
10
1
Credibility

so, 9 people show up to hear ZZZZZZ, do you think there is a credibility issue with him?

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 09/07/12 - 04:49 pm
4
0
A University Insertitison Should Be About The Students First

Well see about that because Alanta has always seen Augusta as a secon rat city. At ths time I don't see anything with GHSU to change their opinion .

Sweet son
11095
Points
Sweet son 09/07/12 - 05:30 pm
8
0
@rmwardsr Way to Go!

Little inside job, heh! Both are in line for retirement so someone padded their retirement before they went out!

seenitB4
93819
Points
seenitB4 09/07/12 - 05:42 pm
7
0
Where are the people?

What if you gave a party & no one showed up.....

Sweet son
11095
Points
Sweet son 09/07/12 - 06:10 pm
6
0
Be Assured that................................

Azziz's boys will get raises and the "little people" will get nothing! I hope that the cancer grant person does not lose their job for challenging him.

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 09/07/12 - 06:51 pm
6
0
"Kenny also said she would do

"Kenny also said she would do what she can to prevent students’ having to pay a proposed additional fee to have ASU instead of GRU printed on their diplomas"
Why does she care? Supposedly she will be going back where ever she came from once the merger is consummated in January, and after that no one is giong to remember her... Or will they? I still think there is more to this story, this is not the final chapter. There are still too many unanswered questions surrounding it.Why did the Board of Regents force UGA's president to retire? Bloodworth offered to stay on at ASU until the consolidation took place, but the BOR flat out rejected that idea. I think bigger things are in store for Azziz, and Dr. Kenny surely wouldn't want to go back up North in the middle of winter. They,(the BOR) are waiting for something else to happen before they give us the Christmas gift we are waiting on. I have said it before and I will say it again, I think a Bulldog is in Augusta's future. And Azziz's new throne is going to be about 100 miles north of here. I could be wrong, but stay tuned.

prov227
3349
Points
prov227 09/07/12 - 07:00 pm
3
0
Let's just call it ...

How about all those who wish just calling the new consolidated university "Augusta's University" and let the regents and ZZZZ call it GRU. They have their schedules and we have ours.

prov227
3349
Points
prov227 09/07/12 - 07:05 pm
1
0
Regent University banners

Is it just on my computer that I'm seeing Regent University in Virginia banner advertisements pasted everywhere including as a masthead at the top of this news article?

rebellious
21419
Points
rebellious 09/07/12 - 08:00 pm
6
0
Wow!

Kudos to Killips and Rutland for voicing what many Augustans think. Maybe it is the effect of hearing something over and over, or maybe it makes real sense, but the fact that Augusta is not in the name bothers me less and less. Yes I attended ASU. We referred to it as Harvard on the hill at the time. But look at the growth that school has had under Dr. Bloodworth. Heck there are buildings on every parking lot I used to park in. Something bigger is next, and this unlikely alliance will propel it. To have a global appeal, the name does need to be more generic. But the Regents audacity to name it after or for them, still ticks me off.

Dr. Azziz is an agent of change. I believe he came to Augusta with an agenda. I also see evidence he thought the citizenry to be gullible and a pushover. He probably didn't have a plan for this resistance, so he is sticking to the original script. The indicators are him sticking to his guns so vigilantly and unwilling to compromise.

My predictions are it will not change. One day soon Augustans will tire of the battle and, gradually the protest will dwindle. The new U will prosper and grow. Azziz will move forward and up, and he will loathe Augusta. He will do anything and everything he can to not favor Augusta.

I may be wrong and I hope the Governor may do something to strike a pallatible moniker, but I have seen things like this before. The decision makers aren't there for no reason, and they all either have influence through money or connections which can impact a Govenor. Politics make strange bedflows, and this is no different.

So......Get used to it, folks, cause it ain't gonna change.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 09/07/12 - 08:41 pm
4
0
Big Pay!

Just two questions...

1) How much did/will Tariq Azziz's pay raise be once MCG takes over ASU?

2) What is the combined salary for the 36 (yes, 36) members of Azziz's cabinet?

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 09/07/12 - 08:45 pm
6
0
Rebellious

Azziz will move forward and up, and he will loathe Augusta. He will do anything and everything he can to not favor Augusta.

Will loathe Augusta? I think he already does :)

And his type will land on his feet somewhere else, he had no intention of staying here. His children won't be going to Georgia Regent University. So, none of this is his problem.

You see how he is acting now, he is taking it like a man. He also said it was part of the university president’s job to take the heat for the decision, as he has.

bitterhead
19
Points
bitterhead 09/07/12 - 09:39 pm
5
0
Budget cuts mean no raises...

But we have enough money to blow on surveys to ignore and lawsuits to defend a crappy name.

Makes sense. Good for morale. Gotta keep the troops happy!

Azziz is a master manager. I hope he gets a raise for how he's handled this whole thing.

nnaugusta
533
Points
nnaugusta 09/07/12 - 10:38 pm
3
1
Ummm, azizz....the respected

Ummm, azizz....the respected school in Virginia is going to hand your azizz to you and your b.o.r cronie friends. Watch and see...you'll eat those words because they WILL revist it! Omitted capitaliztion is on purpose.

nnaugusta
533
Points
nnaugusta 09/07/12 - 10:42 pm
4
1
Raise not being given are

Raises not being given are something everyone except.... you and your elite YES SIR mr. azizz crowd will have to face. Just how much is your salary nowadays?

useful
750
Points
useful 09/08/12 - 05:03 am
3
0
then he would have 37

then he would have 37 people,one to sort his mail

gargoyle
19585
Points
gargoyle 09/08/12 - 07:30 am
4
0
"Apart from showing distaste

"Apart from showing distaste for the GRU name, students at ASU had questions about how the new campus will function. Kenny said she would like to have a smoking policy finalized before she ends her interim presidency in January and would like to create more programs focused on improving student achievement"
Translation; I'm here to keep a name on a door please leave me alone

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 09/08/12 - 09:42 am
1
0
Did Anyone Say Show Me The Money

If I told you once I''ve told you twice sonnet or later there will be massive job cuts at GHSU it's just much of an employee to studend ratio . That means that the university is paying out more than it is taking in. Pizazz is unwilling to give ASU any of the revenue from the business that Medical College of Georgia Hoispital gets from insurance companies for fees of  hospital patient services . That goes to most of the staff a GHSU and none to ASU's staff not now or in the future. And of course there will be less money from the state and The Georgia University Board of Regents.

University of East Central Georgia Augusta (UECG) (ECGA)

East Central Georgia University of Augusta (ECGU) (ECG)

Eastcentral Georuia University

Any of those combination would have worked dr oizzie or is it that people in Augusa areat do not have any creative value.

I typed on my iPhone again augusti chronicle so I know you will take every chance to mess of the spelling and grammar.

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 09/08/12 - 10:34 am
1
0
It's My Money And I Want It Now Mr. GHSU & MCG CEO

If you work for MCG Hoispital you get paid if you work for UHSU than you work for the state of Georgia and you need to talk to the Georgia university board of regents about your pay raise. If you don't get your pay raise you can join the rest of the commenters on AC and say "They ate who we though they were and we let them off the hook" .

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 09/08/12 - 11:09 am
0
0
If you work for MCG Hoispital

If you work for MCG Hoispital you get paid if you work for UHSU than you work for the state of Georgia and you need to talk to the Georgia university board of regents about your pay raise. If you don't get your pay raise you can join the rest of the commenters on AC and say "They ate who we thought they were and we let them off the hook" .

CryoCyberTronics 9/8/12 11:34 AM

Benjamin Paine
233
Points
Benjamin Paine 09/08/12 - 12:28 pm
4
0
Missing the obvious or another misrepresentation?

In the forum at GHSU yesterday, Dr. Azziz stated that the regents removed the city names in all of the consolidations. I think Azziz's statement and this article conveniently ignores the fact that all the other pairs of universities merged were in different cities. Perhaps this is just another minor detail to be ignored like survey results or the opinions of the students, employees and community?

feral_skeptic
25
Points
feral_skeptic 09/08/12 - 12:54 pm
3
0
Still waiting. . .

I've asked of nearly every public servant and legislator representing this region why eight of the eighteen members of the USG Board of Regents are also either current or former members of the MCG/GHS Health System Board of directors, while there are none on the BOR who claim a similar personal connection with ASU. They are supposed to be providing objective oversight to the entire USG. How much easier does it become to steamroll a personal agenda through the BOR when nearly 45% of them are personally vested in GHSU? How can a small school like ASU hope to have an equal voice when there is not equal representation?

Little Lamb
48009
Points
Little Lamb 09/08/12 - 01:52 pm
0
0
Thanks, Benjamin

Good research and good analysis, Mr. Paine. Thumbs up.

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 09/08/12 - 05:25 pm
0
0
What other arterial motives will we fine

MCG is not one of the CDRA's Majior employers. The University System is one of the Majior employers in the Augusta area. Who controls The University of Georgia...? The Georgia University Board of Regents is who controls The University System of Georgia...! So you know that pay cuts are a coming real soon unless this statement makes the good dr Ozzie looks bad because is bring in a lot of revenue as CEO of MCG Hospital Medical Center and soon the medical centers in Athens and Savannah will be bring in the green backs too. Don't know what the head cancer research dr at MCG had to do to get the building for cancer research finding on the books but she sure seems to have smile on her face these days...! One thing i know is that the cancer research building will not be to enable more students at MCG ( reason why I don't say GHSU is because I never really like that name anyway and it gives to much credit to dr Ozzie for finally being know as a university.) Too bad he ( dr Ozzie could not find a way to get control of Augusta's University Hospital too don't be so heart broken Georgia board of regents the wall has ears if you know what I mean...

eli
3
Points
eli 09/08/12 - 06:35 pm
1
0
Important Detail Overlooked

It says "The city names were removed in all four university consolidations the regents approved this year."

“In those (other) three situations they were creating a regional university,” Azziz said. He said it was part of the university president’s job to take the heat for the decision.

All the other universities being merged are located in TWO DIFFERENT cities. Some are even 45 minutes away from each other. Of course it would make sense for them not to include a city name:

Waycross College and South Georgia College (Waycross, GA & Douglas, GA)

Middle Georgia College and Macon State College (Cochran, GA & Macon, GA)

Gainesville College and North Georgia College & State University (Gainesville/Oakwood, GA and Dahlonega, GA)

However both Augusta State and GHSU are located in the SAME CITY-AUGUSTA- they are only 3 miles away from each other.

It would make sense for AUGUSTA to be in OUR new name, even though it might not have been a feasible option for the other schools.

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