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

“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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beep beep
65
Points
beep beep 03/06/13 - 04:51 pm
12
1
Amazing!! How did we get to

Amazing!! How did we get to this? This guy who will probaly be gone in 5 years does not have AUGUSTA in his best interests. He is doing everything that he can to put his stamp on this university regardless of what AUGUSTA wants. All ASU alumni should boycott and not give any money to GRU, then maybe we could get our name and identity back!

seenitB4
90980
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seenitB4 03/06/13 - 05:09 pm
9
1
It just gets

DEEPER DEEPER & DEEPER

razordog
195
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razordog 03/06/13 - 05:16 pm
10
1
Do the right thing...

Wish someone in charge would do the right thing and get rid of Dr. Azziz before he does more damage (like that's possible). Why is this bozo taking responsibility for this NOW? Just another one of his screw ups. How many chances does he get before he gets the boot?

Riverman1
87034
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 05:17 pm
11
1
Another Lie

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

Also, ask him what happened to using "Augusta" in logos, stationary and so on? I wanted GRU to be small and Augusta big on the uniforms of the sports' teams.

Fiat_Lux
15913
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/06/13 - 05:32 pm
7
0
Here's the whole letter

from Ricardo the Magnificent Merger Master:
(the boldface observations are mine.)

Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends:

Last week you may have heard, or read, about an alteration of photos of Augusta State University athletes’ uniforms that were included in a Georgia Regents University admissions view book – now removed from use. And you will likely hear more in the days ahead.

So in case you are in doubt, let me be clear… 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. Especially the team.

The alteration 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.

And so firstly I want to assure all of you that this in no way represents a concerted effort to erase or rewrite history. In fact, similar photos of ASU athletics were used unaltered, proudly displaying the ASU logo, in other GRU publications prepared at about the same time as the admissions view book. We are proud of ASU’s and GHSU’s past accomplishments, and those that achieved them.

We should all recognize that the future of Georgia Regents University is being built upon the strong and rich histories of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University. We value this history, and we value the contributions of those who came before us. And as such I have made capturing, recording, and displaying our histories a priority of this administration. What a laugh!

Secondly, we must try to minimize the risk of these kinds of mistakes happening again. For starters, we are putting in place a policy that requires that all GRU publications, regardless of what unit they come from, to be routed through the Office of Communications and Marketing for production consultation and final approval. A greater number of eyes are required to ensure correct branding and positioning. And we are finalizing a template of approved logos and standards to ensure consistency across our enterprise.

Thirdly, and paradoxically, we all must understand that mistakes will and do happen. We have almost 10,000 employees in our enterprise, all working very hard. And we are all working very fast to do the right thing in a very dynamic environment… not just by choice, but because we have to, for there are many pressing issues that need to be addressed as we become GRU. A lot of things should have been thought through a lot better before ramming things forward. Much misery was created that was totally avoidable.

The issues are myriad. Student recruitment has to accelerate for this fall... and we are already six months behind our peers. SACS will be visiting our campus in the fall, and much is still required prior to their visit, including a strategic plan. Planning for new student facilities must occur now, for our fall students. We must operate at this very moment under one set of regulatory policies… despite having two separate sets of policies in place. We must craft a single unified FY14 budget… and it must be ready in two months. We must finalize our athletic logos and apparel for this coming season – ensuring Augusta is consistently displayed on them. And much more...

Much to do in a very short period of time... This accelerating pace of change consumes a great deal of our collective energy, and mistakes are almost inevitable. However, we must strive hard to find ways to minimize their number, their impact, and their repetition.

Finally, while we should welcome educated debate as we strive to build the next great American University, 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 and for Georgia to the lowest possible levels. Conduct like this is clearly aimed to harm the image of our university, our city, and our students, staff, and faculty without regard for the very hard… and extraordinary work of the GRU community. And the many successes and triumphs we have had… and continue to have, and for which we should be proud. A snarky blast at Billy Morris and others who have seen right through Azziz and his unwelcome agenda...

Please know that I am very grateful to each and every one of you for all you do for our university and health system. And I know you are as proud as I am to be part of such a great, innovative and transforming enterprise. A unique institution that produces the quadruple key benefits of educating our future generations, of producing discoveries that change our destiny, of providing care to many in need, and of serving as a major economic engine to our community and beyond. Absolutely clueless.

While we have had an extremely regrettable incident… it was an isolated incident. But we must recognize that this likely will not be our last misstep as an organization, as we move through the very complex and arduous process of creating the next great American University. The only ships that don’t make waves are those that fail to leave the dock. And as you all know, we have left the dock in a very big way. By why bother making sure that most of the passengers were on board first?

We are on a journey to become a top-tier global institution, and we will do it through the continued engagement, collaborative thinking, and focused determination of our faculty, staff, and students, and of our alumni and friends.(in your dreams) I thank you for your continued trust, support, and hard work. Be proud!

Respectfully,

Ricardo Azziz, MD, MPH, MBA
Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Medicine, and Medical Humanities
President, Georgia Regents University
CEO, Georgia Regents Health System

Riverman1
87034
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 05:31 pm
11
1
Fiat, wow, that letter shows

Fiat, wow, that letter shows his ongoing arrogance. When he should be apologizing he takes the opportunity to slam the Chronicle and other media for what he says is creating problems. Astounding.

Little Lamb
47011
Points
Little Lamb 03/06/13 - 05:34 pm
5
1
From the letter Fiat posted:

Doctor Azziz wrote, “We have almost 10,000 employees in our enterprise, all working very hard.”

Come on, now, Doc. Out of that many you know there are a few slackers.

Riverman1
87034
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 05:39 pm
12
1
Doesn't Azziz give you that

Doesn't Azziz give you that feeling that he doesn't quite get things with some of his statements? It's an uneasy feeling.

seenitB4
90980
Points
seenitB4 03/06/13 - 05:42 pm
5
1
Uneasy feeling

You dang right it is an uneasy feeling....

seenitB4
90980
Points
seenitB4 03/06/13 - 05:43 pm
5
1
Thanks Fiat

The boldface remarks are right on the money!

v4vendetta
251
Points
v4vendetta 03/06/13 - 05:49 pm
4
14
is it really that big a deal??

come on really? if a company takes over another company, say kroger takes over bilo...kroger would 'erase' and swallow the bilo brand.... The university is now GRU. that's it. end of story. incoming students need a clear crisp message...is this ASU, GRU, GHSU? It's now GRU...period...Within the campuses I'm sure there's integration and acceptance and excitement with GRU...but for the locals and alumni...get with it...stop making such a darn fuss over minutia....IT'S GRU now....Be happy the city is still named Augusta...Take your solace in that.

Riverman1
87034
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 05:55 pm
11
1
"....Be happy the city is

"....Be happy the city is still named Augusta"

Now that's funny and he didn't mean it to be.

Riverman1
87034
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 05:56 pm
5
1
Seenit, you know that can't

Seenit, you know that can't stay. LOL

seenitB4
90980
Points
seenitB4 03/06/13 - 05:58 pm
4
1
ain't nothing wrong with that :)

A flower & another name for a cat....in the eyes of the beholder...

Riverman1
87034
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 06:00 pm
4
1
It's funnier for insiders

It's funnier for insiders after the filtered word thing popped up. LOL

Fiat_Lux
15913
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/06/13 - 06:09 pm
2
0
That letter is such a humongous insult

He's got much bigger and more important things to apologize for than this stupid PR gaff. Of course, this PR gaff clearly reveals his complete lack of interest in the miserable impact on employees that his grand plan for THE ENTERPRISE! is having.

The snark at the Chronicle was another little view into the morale buster.

People aren't proud to be associated with this steamrolling operation; they're trying to survive it. If the economy and employment options today were what it was in 1988, people would be jumping off this ship like it was on fire. It's simply amazing that Azziz doesn't seem to have a clue about this, or perhaps he does and is thinking his relentless denial and refusal to deal with it will, by force of his will, magically move everyone into his preferred reality.

The Soviets and the ChiComs have always been partial to that methodology for bringing about the desired change.

v4vendetta
251
Points
v4vendetta 03/06/13 - 06:09 pm
3
11
this ain't family...

this is nothing like the renaming a family member...it was sad the first time a sports stadium added some corporate sponsor to it's name citicorp kroger national stadium...but that's the reality...university/school is also business, you should be reminded of that from every school that calls you or mails you soliciting you for donations.. ....it's is business...if the college you graduated from was like augusta community college...and was usurped by harvard...would you be lamenting the former name?

Riverman1
87034
Points
Riverman1 03/06/13 - 06:10 pm
6
2
Is Harvard coming here?

Is Harvard coming here?

v4vendetta
251
Points
v4vendetta 03/06/13 - 06:13 pm
2
11
i'm just saying

it's all relative..if harvard had usurped..this sentimental gobbledygook would not be heard....

Fiat_Lux
15913
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/06/13 - 06:14 pm
10
1
Obviously,

V4 doesn't work at MCG and doesn't have strong ties or a personal interest in ASU or MCG or their histories. That's cool.

People who don't have any personal investment in MCG or ASU really wouldn't be expected to have a problem with the change to GRU. And likewise, they don't really have a platform for commenting about the sentiments of those of us who do have that personal investment.

seenitB4
90980
Points
seenitB4 03/06/13 - 06:17 pm
6
2
Names can change & often they do

The big mall near me had the name Discover Mills Mall in the beginning.....no one really liked it & most just refused to call it that......it sits on Sugarloaf Parkway & when we talk about the mall we always say...The Mall at Sugarloaf.....lo & behold the owners wised up (some do you know) last year the name was changed to..guess what...Sugarloaf Mall....beautiful - fitting as it should be....sooo don't tell me common sense doesn't kick in..it does....& when it does..we all benefit.

Fiat_Lux
15913
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/06/13 - 06:17 pm
2
0
And it's not simply the awful new name.

As stupid and repulsive as it is, the name now might be one of the lesser miseries Azziz has created here in Augusta.

AutumnLeaves
8505
Points
AutumnLeaves 03/06/13 - 06:21 pm
6
1
Pardon me, instead of using

Pardon me, instead of using the actual quote "the lady doth protest too much, methinks" I am going to use the more commonly worded, "methinks he doth protest too much", to describe the above letter. He hasn't done himself any favors with this letter.

Sweet son
10752
Points
Sweet son 03/06/13 - 07:52 pm
5
1
@Fiat_Lux!

Glad you brought it up that Axxix was calling our universities an "enterprise." Sounds like a business! It is not an "enterprise" it is "our" universities that he is trying to claim as his enterprise. And believe you me that is all that he has in mind! "His enterprise!"

He is guilty of nothing but lip service since he got caught!

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 03/06/13 - 07:46 pm
4
1
'Oops, my bad"....

...A very easy tack to take when you are arrogant and have no fear of being fired....

bluelight
28
Points
bluelight 03/06/13 - 08:21 pm
5
1
Azziz needs to go

This man in no way, shape or fashion has the best interests of the City of Augusta, "Augusta State", "MCG", alumni and the community anywhere in his plans. His brazen arrogrance is so apparent. It is time for this Azzizease to be cured....he needs to go , NOW!

prov227
3267
Points
prov227 03/06/13 - 09:51 pm
1
1
Harvard analogy is off ...

Harvard already has a name steeped in history. We even referred to AC as "Harvard on the Hill" (lovingly). GHSU is a name "steeped" in a few years' history and is headed for the dust bin. I doubt graduates of MCG really feel a loss. ASU's campus has been renamed the "Summerville" Campus, instead of "Arsenal" Campus or "Hill" Campus (better choices). Even UGA still remembers its ancient ties to Franklin College and Old College Campus. A truly great university is supported by its alumni who feel pride in its history because it is the history of real people, their struggles, their ambitions and a formative part of their lives.

I doubt I will ever feel like an alumni or embrace a GRU. Azziz'z letter is arrogant. In two short years he has created a "town (alumni) and gown (GRU leadership team)" schism, the likes we haven't seen before. Quite an achievement for his "American Global University". Maybe the Regents could sell naming rights to Coca-Cola to raise money. But, then, maybe we could sell our souls.

Fewer people will know where Augusta is located (except in April).

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 03/06/13 - 10:35 pm
5
1
Arrogance shows many forms,

Arrogance shows many forms, sometimes clueless, sometimes vulgar, sometimes jealous, and sometimes, all of the above.

justputtin
1448
Points
justputtin 03/07/13 - 12:51 am
4
1
Yup

I bet he sleeps well. Doesn't seem to have a conscience or care what anyone thinks. He should apply for Hugo's vacancy. Immediately!

seenitB4
90980
Points
seenitB4 03/07/13 - 07:50 am
3
0
Get over thyself!!

The world does not rotate around any 1 person...

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