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Azziz takes blame for altered photos in GRU view book

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 3:29 PM
Last updated Thursday, March 7, 2013 2:15 AM
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Georgia Regents Uni­versity’s president issued a statement Wednesday taking responsibility for a publication that used altered photos of athletes, in which Augusta State University logos and emblems were removed from their uniforms.

Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz issued a statement Wednesday taking responsibility for a publication that used altered photos of athletes.  SARA CALDWELL/FILE
Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz issued a statement Wednesday taking responsibility for a publication that used altered photos of athletes.

Steve Crawford
Columbia County News Times Publisher
Twitter: @scrawfordccnt
E-mail | 706-868-1222

“We messed up! And because at the end of the day the buck stops at my desk … my team and I have to take full responsibility for this error,” Dr. Ricardo Azziz said in a statement, which was published a week after news of the altered photos was reported in The Augusta Chronicle.

The photos – of Augusta State men’s golf, men’s basketball and women’s softball team members – appeared in a color brochure, known as a “view book,” meant for prospective undergraduates. About 5,000 of the 12-page view books were printed and handed out to high school guidance counselors last week before university officials halted distribution. News of the alterations prompted outrage from Augusta State alumni and athletes and brought unwelcome national attention to the newly created school, which was officially formed in January from a merger by ASU and Georgia Health Sciences University.

It also prompted a series of evolving responses from Georgia Regents officials.

When first questioned about the photos, David Brond, the senior vice president of Communications and Marketing, said that the altered photos were part of an effort to avoid confusing prospective students with names of the former institutions but declined to call it a mistake.

After news reports were published, Brond issued a statement Feb. 27 calling the decision to use such photos an “error in judgment,” that did not reflect the views of Georgia Regents administration.

The following day, university officials issued a statement on behalf of Vice Provost Roman Cibirka, who claimed responsibility for the view book and apologized for the debacle.

“I accept full responsibility for the approval of the Georgia Regents University Augusta view book in question, independent of Dr. Azziz and other senior administrators,” Cibirka’s statement said.

Although the statements were circulated for Azziz’s review last week, the university president didn’t offer feedback or comments on the view book, according to internal e-mails obtained by The Chronicle through an open-records request.

In Wednesday’s statement, Azziz said the alterations “not only represented an error in judgment, but demonstrated an insensitivity to our history, to GRU’s history, rooted as it is in the long traditions and richness of our seminal universities, Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University.”

Azziz also announced a new policy that he hoped would minimize such future mistakes. He said all future university publications will be controlled by the Office of Communications and Marketing, regardless of where they originate. Brond said the view book had been produced with the help of an outside agency by the “enrollment management group,” which was headed by Cibirka.

Officials have since ordered a reprint of the book with Augusta State logos restored and other changes that explain the recent consolidation.

University officials said that Azziz was not available for an interview Wednesday and that his statement would stand as his only comment on the matter.

“After discussing the issue with several members of the GRU leadership team and university community, Dr. Azziz wanted to address students, faculty and staff directly and communicate his position on the issue,” GRU spokeswoman Christen Carter said.

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Grandpa Jones
Grandpa Jones 03/07/13 - 08:25 am
Ghost Writers

Don't get too bent out of shape about Azziz's letter. Most statements and letters to the public are written by "Ghost Writers," anyways. Not saying Azziz is using one but I know many people who are using them in the area including the Mayor's office.

csrareader 03/07/13 - 08:25 am
It sure would be nice to have

It sure would be nice to have adult supervision at that place.

nocnoc 03/07/13 - 08:26 am

Well everyone else it seems to of taken responsibility for this stunt.

So, why can't I make headlines also and get a few minutes of fame?

...point to ponder
...point to ponder 03/07/13 - 08:31 am
Too verbose..

His letter should have stopped after the 3rd paragraph.
Also, he referenced he wanted to build the next great American University!

How do the folks at THE real already existing American University feel about this? Is Pres. Azzizz looking for another lawsuit? When I read this reference to American University I couldn't believe it.

More of the same....

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/07/13 - 09:05 am
Drive South

Dr. Ricardo Azziz is from South America. Have him build the next great American University down there.

steelersrock 03/07/13 - 10:03 am
not just the name

When all is said and done, this is not just about the name. From the beginning, this campaign to consolidate the two schools has been carried out with duplicity, arrogance, intimidation, and lack of transparency. It is apparent, Azziz does not care about the community and holds himself above it. We are just a backwater town full of rednecks. This man does not even have a background in education that merits his tenure. He is a gynecologist for crying out loud, not an educator. What does he know about education or running a university? Does he meet the requirements of being a university president? The reason he is a dictator is to compensate for the lack of actual experience on his CV. Seriously, prior to GHSU, what experience does he have with a liberal arts institution? None, at least on the administrative level. He does not understand the identity of ASU as a liberal arts school serving a population that needed the opportunity to have a college education. What will happen to those young people when they find the doors shut to them because they no longer meet the standards or can no longer afford it? A lot of students at GRU probably shouldn't even be in college and probably wouldn't get into other schools, but at least they had the opportunity. Without the opportunity, how many young people will turn to low income jobs with no hope of improving their situation? How many will turn to crime or drugs without that opportunity?

MrClen1944 03/07/13 - 10:13 am

What he really says is,"I ain't finished with you uncool rednecks."

bentman 03/07/13 - 10:25 am
". . . the degree of

". . . the degree of editorial irresponsibility exhibited by a few members of the media reduces the resulting discussion about what is inarguably one of the paramount ventures for the future of our community . . ."

You said you didn't read the Chronicle.

I'm Back Again
I'm Back Again 03/07/13 - 10:34 am
Why didn't he man up when

Why didn't he man up when this story first broke over a week ago? My guess is he wanted to wait until no one was talking about it much then throw his responsibility speach in there when no one was looking. Sorry Assiz, RC sees everything! Pack up and hit the road.

BamaMan 03/07/13 - 01:08 pm

after all that, what's he going to DO about it???

Red Headed Step Child
Red Headed Step Child 03/07/13 - 02:20 pm
What kills me

is that after all the outrage that came from the condolidation, the heinous name, etc. that someone as "highly educated" as Azziz didn't seem to connect the dots to think that this latest slap in the face wouldn't get any attention or result in the public's ire...AGAIN. I mean really - who would honestly get confused about a logo on a shirt in a publication??? Sheesh.. He continues to shovel crap in our face all the while saying it's good for our complexions...

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/07/13 - 04:03 pm
Deleted Posts

At least two posts were recently deleted over on page 1. I have no clue what they were, but they surely were up for a long time before being pulled.

Darby 03/07/13 - 10:01 pm
Face it, the man is the....

consummate bureaucrat...

He may have no regard whatsoever for the feelings or needs of others, but he gets the paperwork done on time.

justputtin 03/07/13 - 11:23 pm
AutumnLeaves 03/11/13 - 04:21 pm
In the corner.

If I ever made an apology like that I would have been put in a corner to think it over. For starters.

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