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Chancellor defends Azziz as 'change agent'

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 10:52 AM
Last updated 10:05 PM
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If you want to see where Georgia Regents University is headed, look to the west.

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Henry "Hank" Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, was the keynote speaker at the Post Legislative Breakfast.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Henry "Hank" Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, was the keynote speaker at the Post Legislative Breakfast.

Georgia Board of Regents Chancellor Hank Huckaby told a Columbia County Chamber of Commerce breakfast audience Wednesday that the University of Alabama-Birmingham provides a model for building Augusta’s consolidated universities into an “honest-to-goodness research facility” with statewide reach.

“This is a great place in a great part of the state, and it’s going to be even greater with the things we’re going to do,” Huckaby said, but he acknowledged the challenge of trying to increase the number of college graduates statewide to the level that future economic development will demand.

Speaking during the chamber’s annual Post-Legislative Breakfast, and after comments from members of the local legislative delegation, Huckaby said he agreed in 2011 to leave the Legislature to serve as chancellor after assurances that Gov. Nathan Deal was prepared to shake up the state’s higher education system.

“If he had said no, if he had said he wanted to take it slow, I would have said I wasn’t interested,” Huckaby said.

Since taking over as chancellor, Huckaby said, he’s had to fight the competing perceptions by residents that secondary education is too costly while the business community clamors for better-prepared workers. Along the way, he has battled efforts to protect the status quo.

“Everybody talks about change; they embrace the concept of change, but that’s for you – not for me,” Huckaby said. “We want to keep things just the way they are. We’re comfortable with where we are. But that’s a recipe for disaster.”

To that end, he defended GRU President Ricardo Azziz, saying he was hired for a research university that, unlike highly rated UAB, lagged in nationwide comparisons.

“We hired the president that’s a change agent,” Huckaby said. “Change agents turn over sacred cows. I’m turning over sacred cows as chancellor; some people like it, some people don’t.”

Those who don’t are vocal in their criticism, he said.

“Being president of a college and university in this day and time is not an easy job,” Huckaby said. “It’s at least 24/7, you’re always on call. ... And you have to be willing, particularly in public higher education, to realize that everybody, every parent, every student knows how to do your job better than you do.”

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Little Lamb
47288
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Little Lamb 05/15/13 - 11:10 am
7
1
Change Agent

Speaking of the changes Azziz has made, Huckaby said:

Those who don’t [like it] are vocal in their criticism, he said.

Actually, if you are a Grooo employee and you don't like the changes, you are silent (if you know what's best for you).

Riverman1
87593
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Riverman1 05/15/13 - 11:33 am
3
3
Change includes illegally

Change includes illegally using state property? But his comments put light on the support they give to Azziz. Interesting that he chose the University of Alabama at BIRMINGHAM as the example.

Butterbean
245
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Butterbean 05/15/13 - 03:42 pm
3
0
With comments like Hank Huckaby made, I am surprised

(but not really) that he was not open for questions regarding "his change agent". That, too, is a clear message. Brace yourselves for more antics from Dr. Azziz with little or no real oversight.

Old Timmer
260
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Old Timmer 05/15/13 - 10:46 pm
2
0
Thanks for the clarification.

We didn't need to be told Dr. Azziz is a change agent. We're living it. Go away Mr. Huckaby, you make us sick!

KSL
135713
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KSL 05/15/13 - 11:38 pm
0
0
Y'all need to clean house,

Y'all need to clean house, starting with Dean.

KSL
135713
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KSL 05/15/13 - 11:42 pm
0
0
I am from Georgia, but not

I am from Georgia, but not one thin dime of money spent for my college education went to Georgia.

Bodhisattva
6476
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Bodhisattva 05/16/13 - 06:02 am
1
0
We could have given him a lot
Unpublished

We could have given him a lot more names than just "change agent".

...point to ponder
760
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...point to ponder 05/16/13 - 08:33 am
1
0
Really...

Does the Chancellor believe that the citizens of Augusta just got off the proverbial turnip truck? If you are finallying admiting to his being hired as a "change agent" ... then how will you deal with him on the violations of regent policy on the several levels/violations before yoi and the BOR. Any other state employee commiting these violations would have been already fired.
So the BOR has hidden behind this straw man to get their way....makes sense. No one person could have have come up with all the mess that has been promulgated so far on their own. It has been Azziz doing the bidding of the Board of Regents.

LillyfromtheMills
13978
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LillyfromtheMills 05/16/13 - 08:42 am
1
0
Actually

Azziz is just the hatchet man - they expect us to despise him and not them.

lovingthesouth72
1388
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lovingthesouth72 05/16/13 - 09:09 am
0
1
So excited about all these

So excited about all these plans. I too believe Azziz is a change agent, as the other article mentions. I have a feeling there are many negotiations going on at the higher level with the "movers-and-shakers" that us regular folks know nothing about. So hold tight and think bright future for Augusta! Thanks heavens Azziz moves along with plans regardless of all the negative vibes from some small-town-minded Augusta folks, specially the ones that post on these comments.

bclicious
745
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bclicious 05/16/13 - 10:23 am
0
0
I would agree to a certain extent

I would agree that Azziz is a change agent as much as Barrack Obama is. The question is more so whether or not that change is positive.

I say 100% no for the both of them.

What I want to know is why the board of regents would blatantly go against the will of the people?

The only answer is to encourage your sons and daughters to attend any university other than GRU, or MCG.

Bodhisattva
6476
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Bodhisattva 05/16/13 - 11:38 am
0
0
When discussing highly ranked
Unpublished

When discussing highly ranked and highly respected institutions of learning, does UAB jump into anyone's mind? Does any school in Alabama jump into anyone's mind? All I know about UAB is that somehow they managed to squeak one winning season in over the past decade among a lot of 3-9 seasons. Their uniforms are an ugly green and they're called the Blazers which somehow makes their mascot a dragon. This should be our role model?

prov227
3289
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prov227 05/16/13 - 11:11 pm
0
0
Not opposed to change ...

Augustans are generally in favor of the merger of MCG and ASU. Many recognized this eventual occurrence in the 70s (wonder what Huckaby was thinking then?). Raising academic standards isn't the problem. The standards shouldn't have been allowed to be lowered. The problem is the lack of integrity of the process of naming the new entity. The only "sacred cow" that Huckaby could be talking about is the naming process. That injured the respect and trust from the community toward the Regents and the new president of the combined institutions, notwithstanding recent revelations of the president's housing affairs.

Interestingly, the Junior College of Augusta was created for a similar purpose as East Georgia College, that is, an affordable way to "stay at home" for a year or two prior to transferring to UGA or another four year college. What goes around, comes around. There is nothing new under the sun. (Thanks, Solomon.)

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