Group might go public with campaign for University of Augusta while consolidation moves ahead

The group pushing to dump Georgia Regents University as the name of consolidated universities in Augusta and replace it with University of Augusta could soon be going public.

Meanwhile, efforts to get the consolidation approved by the accrediting body proceed and would not be affected by a name change, an official said. Changing the domain name for the new university Web site, however, could prove to be somewhat of a hassle, at least for the techs.

The Save the A group met privately Tuesday to organize its opposition to the new name for the consolidated Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities.

So far only a few members of what has been said is a group of prominent community leaders and businesses have been publicly identified. However, the group is gathering support and could come out with a list of those backing the University of Augusta effort in a newspaper ad this weekend, spokesman Nick Evans said.

“It’s everybody, every business in Augusta that is saying, ‘Count me in,’ ” he said.

The group is also getting petitions out to businesses asking for support for the University of Augusta name change and getting out contact information for Gov. Nathan Deal, Chancellor Hank Huckaby and the members of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, who overwhelmingly approved the Georgia Regents name in August.

Meanwhile, officials working on the consolidation are proceeding with the application for approval to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which is due by Monday.

“Now that we are prepared to seal the Fed Ex envelope, the worst of the preparation for this first step is behind us,” said Beth Brigdon, the vice president for institutional effectiveness at GHSU.

With all of the appendices and supporting documents, it is well over 1,000 pages, she said.

The accrediting body will meet in December to consider granting approval ahead of a site visit next year, when the new university must produce a massive self-study showing it is adhering to the principles and standards, Brigdon said.

None of that should be affected by a name change, she said.

“Actually, SACS does not weigh in or have any interest in what the name of the institution is,” Brigdon said. “So if the Board of Regents were to decide that they wanted to consider another name, SACS has responded that the naming of the university is not material to” the approval process.

Right now, of course, it is as Georgia Regents University, she said.

“But if something should change and the name recommendation changed, that would not substantively change anything that SACS acted on in December,” Brigdon said.

What it would affect, of course, is the new university domain name. The consolidation group has applied for the gru.edu name. That would have to be changed if the name changed, Brigdon said.

“It would be a lot of trauma and effort for the technology folks,” she said, and would involve redoing some work. But it would not be hard for the group that assigns the .edu domain names, EDUCAUSE.

“Changing a name that’s not yet in use takes maybe a day or two,” Vice President Greg Jackson wrote in an e-mail. Augusta State already has the aug.edu domain name, and if the consolidated university wanted it, “the consolidated entity can use that without further ado,” Jackson wrote.

Having flexibility with the names should help the Save the A campaign, Evans said.

“They could change the name at any time,” he said. “That helps the cause.”

Staff Writer Tracey McManus contributed to this report.

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GROUP’S GOALS

Save the A emphasized four key statements after its meeting Tuesday:

• “Thank you, Governor Deal, the Georgia Legislature and the Board of Regents for your commitment to the students and the combined universities in Augusta.

• “Please reconsider the name University of Augusta, which was the overwhelming choice of the survey paid for by the taxpayers.

• “Please do not spend taxpayer money defending a lawsuit that is not necessary.” Regent University in Virginia has sued the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and individual board members, claiming the new name infringes on its trademark.

• “The Augusta community will rally behind you, the Board of Regents and the combined universities to make this a premier comprehensive research university.”

Topic Page: University Merger

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