The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges voted to approve the consolidation Tuesday at its annual meeting in Dallas. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents is then expected to give final authorization for the university at its Jan. 8 meeting, where it will appoint GHSU President Ricardo Azziz as the new president. A required site visit by association officials likely will take place next fall.
“This is an actual vote of confidence as much as anything,” said Kay Roman, the director of the enterprise project management office and institutional effectiveness at GHSU.
The biggest sticking point in Augusta was the new name, which the Regents chose from three finalists that included the University of Augusta.
A $45,500 study of names commissioned by those working on consolidation before the vote found the Augusta name was tops among those in Georgia and in national surveys, but Georgia Regents was picked instead. The name prompted a letter before the vote from Regent University in Virginia claiming it would violate that university’s long-held trademark of the Regent name. The Virginia school subsequently sued in U.S. District Court in Augusta, and that suit is pending.
The new name prompted waves of protest before and after it was chosen and spurred business leaders to launch a campaign to get Augusta in the name. The Save the A leaders accepted a compromise that put Georgia Regents University Augusta on all materials, but the name was not officially changed.
University leaders on Thursday hope to reveal a new logo, seal and school colors chosen by a survey of students, faculty and alumni.
Tuesday’s vote might be considered an end to the “pre-consolidation” planning period, but there is much work ahead to implement consolidation, Roman said.
“It’s just beginning at this point,” she said.