GRU officials touted two key aspects of the new institution at forums at Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities Friday: athletics and student affairs. It was the last set of forums planned for the year.
ASU political science junior Jose Lugo said he didn’t hear any new information but was expecting to hear some different news about a possible football program.
“I kept hearing rumors this past week that they were actually backing football, so I was kind of surprised about that,” said Lugo, who is a senator with the Student Government Association.
ASU Athletic Director Clint Bryant said the new university will offer several new sports, including rowing, swimming, men’s soccer and equestrian competition. Football, at the moment, is too costly, with $1.5 million needed for scholarships alone and $2.5 million per year in operating costs.
Eleven sports teams at ASU compete in Division II athletics, and men and women’s golf are in Division I. Bryant said officials are still deciding whether to incorporate more of GRU’s teams in Division I and whether that would be beneficial to students.
“We don’t want to do that haphazardly or by the seat of our pants,” Bryant said.
Whatever level of competition, Bryant said he sees the future of GRU’s athletic program as a glue that can bring the community and student body together and keep the public excited about the school.
“We do know athletics is not the most important part of the university,” he said. “But it serves as the front porch to the university. … That carries a significant amount of responsibility. Just ask the folks at Penn State.”
Kevin Frazier, the vice president for student services and development at GHSU, said officials will be taking the best aspects of each campus and combining them to create a better student life.
For example, ASU’s Greek life, which GHSU lacks, will be part of the new university. A new Student Life and Engagement Department will incorporate ASU’s student activities center and GHSU’s campus life, Frazier said.
The health components of each campus will combine to create a new Health and Counseling center, while the fitness components will evolve into improved recreation facilities.
“As you can see, nothing has been lost,” Frazier said.
At the morning forum, GHSU President Ricardo Azziz asked how the cultures of each campus will be able to blend when combining these departments.
Frazier said one tool that will facilitate that is the new student government structure, which will have independent undergraduate and graduate divisions but will have former ASU and GHSU students in each.
“That is probably the easiest and most attractive way to mix and blend the student culture,” he said.