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More renovations at GRU president's house not state approved

Saturday, May 4, 2013 7:05 PM
Last updated Sunday, May 5, 2013 1:42 AM
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School officials have spent more than $280,000 on repairs and renovations at the Georgia Regents University president’s home since 2010 without seeking approval from the state Board of Regents, according to documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.

Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz took over as the leader of the institution, then called Medical College of Georgia, in July 2010.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/FILE
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/FILE
Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz took over as the leader of the institution, then called Medical College of Georgia, in July 2010.

Questions about construction work at the state-owned home of GRU President Ri­cardo Azziz arose last week, when it was revealed that university officials were planning to add at least a $75,000 carport to the existing two-car garage at the 100-year-old house at 920 Milledge Road, know as Twin Gables.

Officials disclosed that the carport project had not been submitted for approval by the Board of Regents as required by policy for all presidents’ homes in the state university system.

Board spokesman John Millsaps said the project would need board approval before moving forward. Millsaps also said the board had not approved any renovation work at Twin Gables in the past several years.

Board policy, adopted in 1991, states, “Any proposed project for improvement of a president’s home, other than routine and necessary maintenance, shall be submitted for review and approval by the Chancellor and the Board of Regents. Any subsequent changes in the scope of the project or budget shall be similarly submitted for review and approval.”

In the past three years at Twin Gables, roofs have been replaced, exterior walls constructed, buildings painted, heating and air systems replaced, and renovations have been made to the interior, according to invoices obtained by The Chronicle through an open-records request.

GRU spokeswoman Christ­en Carter said the total cost for work, including minor repairs at the property since June 2010, is about $284,000.

How much of this work qualifies as “routine and necessary maintenance” is uncertain.

Carter said those questions would need to be answered by the University System.

“I can’t speak to how these projects would be identified under the policy,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Millsaps said none of the work has been submitted for approval.

At least some of the construction at the property appears beyond routine.

Documents show rooms were constructed on the home’s third floor, which required framing, drywall, electrical, and heating and air work.

Charles Bourne, who served as construction superintendent for the job with Gilbane Construction in 2010, said it was a renovation to make room for the Azziz family.

“We only had a couple of months to get it all done because the new president was coming in,” he said.

Bourne said he recalls that a new bedroom and sitting room were constructed on the third floor, in addition to the floor refinishing and painting that was done on the home’s interior.

He said the renovation gave the 11,000-square-foot home a fifth bedroom.

“As big a home as that is, most of it seems to be entertainment areas,” Bourne said.

Twin Gables is one of only three presidents’ homes still owned and operated by the state university system, Millsaps said. The two others are at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, he said.

They are unique properties, which is probably why the board has specific policies that apply only to presidents’ homes, he said.

Carter said the carport project, which is subject to revision that could increase the construction budget, is still being considered.

She said university officials plan to seek Board of Regents approval before proceeding.

Millsaps said he couldn’t say whether it would be approved. Nor could he say whether previous construction projects should have been submitted because that is something only the chancellor and the Board of Regents can decide.

“It is a board policy,” he said.

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KSL
143697
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KSL 05/05/13 - 09:42 am
2
4
He came from south of the US

He came from south of the US and his first name (or middle) is Ricardo.

ragingbull
945
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ragingbull 05/05/13 - 10:23 am
2
2
Let's see, we already have

Let's see, we already have Riverfront GRU, GRU Medical School, GRU Medical School-Athens Campus, GRU Summerville Campus, and now we will have GRU Mill Campus, Why not annex Paine College and make it GRU Minority Campus?(No racial pun is intended here, just a little GRU sarcasm)

ragingbull
945
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ragingbull 05/05/13 - 10:26 am
8
1
Riverman1---You can bet Azziz

Riverman1---You can bet Azziz is salivating at the checkbook about this $70 million. He may not be the reason it was donated, but you can surely bet he will be the reason most of it is spent!

rugerguy
216
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rugerguy 05/05/13 - 11:20 am
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1
He must go and go now

MCG was once a really great place to work. I spent 7 years there and fondly remember the time I spent. With Azziz in charge, it has now become a huge joke with rampant employee turnover, no professional credibility, and absolutely no focus at all on the folks who keep the place going. Kick this man out, change the names back to MCG and ASU, and get someone in the job who can bring things back to the way they were.

Darby
29232
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Darby 05/05/13 - 11:32 am
5
2
"Of all the things that happen at GRU,

fundraising is more specifically the purview of the president than anything else, and he is proving to be truly excellent at closing the deal."

.
He can't take credit for money pledged before he took office. Even if he could, then what you would have us believe is that money trumps character.

Sad, very sad....

Sweet son
11628
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Sweet son 05/07/13 - 10:42 am
4
1
Twin Gables is a huge house!

Were there not enough rooms to accommodate sleeping?

KSL
143697
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KSL 05/05/13 - 11:53 am
1
3
Wonder where the wedding

Wonder where the wedding couple stayed. Partridge Inn or Grusome Mansion?

Discussionstarter
501
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Discussionstarter 05/05/13 - 11:58 am
3
7
Don't y'all have better things to worry about?

People assaulted on Riverwalk.
A city that has trash all over it.
Taxes are at an all-time high with less services.
Severely blighted areas all over.
Augusta Commission spending that is out of control.
Improper firings by Fred Russell.

WalterBradfordCannon
1492
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WalterBradfordCannon 05/05/13 - 12:09 pm
1
6
@Riverman1, you may know

@Riverman1, you may know about many things, but when it comes to fundraising, closing the deal is EVERYTHING. Azziz closed the deal. All Rahn did was dance with him and leave empty-handed. IT MATTERS.

WalterBradfordCannon
1492
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WalterBradfordCannon 05/05/13 - 12:22 pm
4
4
> So fund raising is what is

> So fund raising is what is more important to you. Not behaving ethnically
> and honestly and setting a good example for his future graduates? Is it
> all just about the money? Could he not have raised the funds without
> his selfish and bad behavior?

Let's get into the math. MCG and ASU together averaged $10 million a year in fundraising, yet are over a billion dollars a year in operating costs. Azziz makes around $600k per year. He has been in town three years. He has raised about $115 million for GRU. If you are on the Board of Regents, do you think that is a good investment or not?

Now, suppose some of the behavior of Azziz was perhaps not appropriate for the decorum of the office and for a servant of the state of Georgia. Do you think the negatives of his behavior offset the extra $85 million he has raised?

I am in full agreement about many aspects of Azziz' behavior with most on this forum. But the primary task of the president is fundraising, and Azziz has the golden touch. The money spent on the president's mansion is investment in assets owned by the regents. Even if the $280k is a bust, all is forgiven for a man who has raised over $100 million. Do you have any idea how big that is for the Regents? You can find the fundraising information for UGa and Georgia Tech online. You will be stunned at what Ricardo has accomplished.

KSL
143697
Points
KSL 05/05/13 - 12:46 pm
1
6
Paint me stupid. I am not. I

Paint me stupid. I am not. I am honest and ethical. I don't want to be treated by a doctor who is all about the money!

And fortunately to this date, I haven't been.

KSL
143697
Points
KSL 05/05/13 - 01:00 pm
1
4
You say fundraising is

You say fundraising is important, by hook or crook. I bet if the BOR got rid of him next week, there would be a lot of people who would gladly contribute. I would and I have no concrete attachment to MCG, other than I am sad they could not hang on to 2 spectacular doctors who operated on my husband a decade ago.

My husband and I have 6 colleges/universities we and our children have attended. My first contribution will go to MCG once he is gone.

KSL
143697
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KSL 05/05/13 - 01:05 pm
1
4
wbc

So for you it does not matter that someone breaks the law, benefits from it, but provides for the so called greater good? That excuses it?

No wonder this country is in such a mess!

KSL
143697
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KSL 05/05/13 - 01:07 pm
1
5
The end justifies the means?

The end justifies the means?

KSL
143697
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KSL 05/05/13 - 01:18 pm
1
6
We have paid GA income taxes

We have paid GA income taxes from 1963 to 2012. Have not lived in GA since 1969. For the last 3 decades, most of our income came from GA. But we had no vote. I understand, but I have no tolerance for wbc's comments

ragingbull
945
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ragingbull 05/05/13 - 02:39 pm
4
1
I heard Azziz likes antique

I heard Azziz likes antique trucks. He needs somewhere nice to keep them. You know you can't just park these things out in the open in the driveway. Heaven forbid he would have to do an oil change in plain view of his peers. That is why he needs this big expensive addition to his garage.

ragingbull
945
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ragingbull 05/05/13 - 02:44 pm
3
1
walterbradfordcannon wrote:>

walterbradfordcannon wrote:> So fund raising is what is more important to you. Not behaving ethnically

Mr. Cannon,
Looks like he is doing a good job of behaving ethnically. He thinks we are all a bunch of country hicks, and we don't measure up to his standards. So he is behaving just as he thinks he should ethnically.
But it is his ethical behavior that seems to be in question.

Young Fred
20981
Points
Young Fred 05/05/13 - 05:54 pm
4
1
Pshaw, Benito Azziz cares

Pshaw, Benito Azziz cares nothing for your ineffectual whining! It's obvious that because the majority did not get their wish in naming the university that most will merely nitpick his every move.

He does not, nay, he will not, lower himself to anwering such pedestrian concerns!

WalterBradfordCannon
1492
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WalterBradfordCannon 05/05/13 - 06:07 pm
2
1
> I bet if the BOR got rid

> I bet if the BOR got rid of him next week, there would be a
> lot of people who would gladly contribute.

I bet if you could line up $100 million they would fire him. I know people are upset with his "ethics", but what it really amounts to is misuse of university resources for the cost of a few thousand dollars, and capital improvements that were not approved a priori and possibly are not worth the investment for the cost of $284k. The "name change" was handled with the deftness of Tim Tebow. So he is lousy for the image of his office. However, he raises money for the university like crazy, and his sins will count, with the Regents, for far less than his fundraising. In fact, they certainly don't read the Chronicle because none of them live in, or attended school in, Augusta.

University presidents spend more than half their time fundraising. They have more control over fundraising than any other operation at a university. If they are closers, they will do well. Don't forget, coffee is for closers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kZg_ALxEz0

I mean, this particular incident is about $284k in capital improvements. If they were valuable capital improvements, they would have been approved anyway. It is not like Azziz keeps the money - when he leaves town it stays in the president's house. $284k over three years for capital improvements to the president's house for an operation that expenses $1.2 billion per year? Really? You think that is going to get him canned? Get over it - it would take a much, much, much bigger scandal to get rid of a president that is so productive for the university. So GRU lost about $20 million in annual state appropriations. Azziz fundraised an extra $85 million in his first three years - more than offsetting the loss from the state. He is going to get a lot of leeway from the regents.

Little Lamb
49001
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Little Lamb 05/05/13 - 06:26 pm
2
1
Poor Investment

WalterBradfordCannon asked:

Azziz makes around $600k per year. He has been in town three years. He has raised about $115 million for GRU. If you are on the Board of Regents, do you think that is a good investment or not?

No.

CobaltGeorge
175578
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CobaltGeorge 05/05/13 - 06:30 pm
0
3
Everyday, Everyday

I read all these comments on this there Azzizz man. All these comments sure make me believe that you in that there Augusta have nothing but a low class clone of the Hammer & Sickle Man. I really have feelings for you all. As with your WH King, there ain't a darn there thing you can do about it but complain and live with it. Sorry.

Riverman1
93600
Points
Riverman1 05/05/13 - 07:33 pm
4
1
WalterBrad, well, Dr.

WalterBrad, well, Dr. Harrison put the contribution in his will and died last June. Nobody closed any deal. He was a past president of the MCG Foundation.

CricketSeranade
593
Points
CricketSeranade 05/05/13 - 08:56 pm
3
1
Don't feel bad Lee

They deleted my comment also. Ironically, I was praising them for the good work digging up all the dirt on Azziz. Apparently, they must think that the first amendment applies to the media only.

OnTheHill1
347
Points
OnTheHill1 05/06/13 - 07:26 am
1
2
Azziz staff person?

WBC, which Azziz staff person are you?

WalterBradfordCannon
1492
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WalterBradfordCannon 05/06/13 - 08:33 am
1
1
@riverman1, will or not, the

@riverman1, will or not, the foundation still had to approve. The closer closed the deal. $66 million is NEVER NEVER NEVER given easily or lightly. I don't have anything to do with the administration of MCG or GRU, but you have to recognize what the role of a university president is, and how Azziz has served that role. Fundraising is priority number one.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 05/06/13 - 09:54 am
1
0
Given the choice between

Given the choice between Popular and Effective, I would choose the latter. "Thumb what may"

Skooter
64
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Skooter 05/06/13 - 07:53 pm
0
0
I'm all about laying the blame where it needs to be but...

Azziz may not be familiar with the rules/approval process regarding the president's home but there are many people associated with this process that are aware of them but have chosen to remain silent.
There's been a profound amount of new buildings and planned renovations to the campus since Azziz has been president - during the identical time that there have been no cost-of-living raises for state employees going back for the last 6 years!! The state should have a moratorium on new buildings while employee's salaries have been allowed to go stale. It's the people that are important, not the buildings! Every year the prices of things increase - the price of coffee has risen almost 50% since 2007 and gasoline runs ~$1 more/gallon over the same time period, too.

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