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Board of Regents to merge Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta State; Azziz to lead school

Jackie Riccardi/ Staff
Board of Regents Vice Chairman William "Dink" H. NeSmith Jr. (from front left), University of Georgia System Chancellor Hank Huckaby, Augusta State President Bill Bloodworth (from back left), and Regents Chairman Ben J. Tarbutton III leave a meeting at Augusta State.
Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 9:33 AM
Last updated Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 5:35 PM
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The Georgia Board of Regents plans to merge Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities, creating a new comprehensive research university with GHSU President Ricardo Azziz at the helm, University System of Georgia officials said Thursday.

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William "Dink" H. NeSmith Jr. (from left),  Hank Huckaby, Bill Bloodworth and Ben J. Tarbutton III leave a meeting Thursday morning at Augusta State.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
William "Dink" H. NeSmith Jr. (from left), Hank Huckaby, Bill Bloodworth and Ben J. Tarbutton III leave a meeting Thursday morning at Augusta State.

University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby discussed the merger in a 45-minute closed-door meeting Thursday morning in an upstairs conference room in the ASU student center. Also in attendance were Azziz, Board of Regents Chairman Ben J. Tarbutton III, board Vice Chairman William “Dink” H. NeSmith Jr., ASU President Bill Bloodworth, Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, state Sen. Hardie Davis, and state Reps. Quincy Murphy, Ernie Smith and Barbara Sims.

“The purpose of this morning’s meeting was to inform this group of a formal proposal involving the consolidation of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University.” Huckaby said. “Not much more can be said until the board acts.”

Huckaby confirmed that the merger was one of four across the state that will be proposed at Tuesday’s Board of Regents meeting in Atlanta. Other consolidations include merging Waycross and South Georgia colleges; Gainesville State College and North Georgia College and State University; and Middle Georgia and Macon State colleges.

If the proposal meets regents approval as expected, the consolidation process will begin immediately with a target date for full integration by fall 2013, according to a statement from GHSU. Next, an implementation committee will be formed, with representatives recommended by the respective presidents and approved by the chancellor. That committee will make recommendations for final approval by the Board of Regents, the statement says.

Huckaby said work on the mergers began more than two months ago and had gained broad support with local and state officials, including Gov. Nathan Deal.

Although the two schools have divergent missions and dissimilar student bodies and staffs, combining ASU and GHSU makes sense because it will allow the university system to create a “comprehensive university” in Augusta.

Tarbutton said the result will make both schools stronger educational institutions.

The mergers will reduce administrative costs at the institutions and help the University System recover some of the $1 billion in state funding cuts that have been made in the past four years, Huckaby told The Associated Press. He said he is unsure how much money could be saved with the changes.

“Our goal is a more educated Georgia, with a network of institutions that offer a range of needed degrees for 21st-century demands,” Huckaby said. “We are going to fulfill our mission within the limited resources available.”

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kiwiinamerica
934
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kiwiinamerica 01/05/12 - 05:39 pm
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@willyb You're right. ASU
Unpublished

@willyb

You're right. ASU does need a shakeup but it won't be done the way it ought to be done by "El Presidente". Azziz has shown he has what it takes to get rid of people who think independently, are not easily pressured or bullied or who have little time for theatrics and self-aggrandizement.

He'll shake it up alright.

The lap dogs and the obsequious sycophants will do just fine. So will those who dance to his tune. On the other hand, those who spit out the Kool-Aid which he attempts to pour down their throats, had better look out. They'll hear one of his favorite catch-phrases....."are you on the bus?"

No prizes for guessing who's driving "the bus".

augusta citizen
9099
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augusta citizen 01/05/12 - 07:11 pm
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Bet one is, Riverman.

Bet one is, Riverman.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/05/12 - 07:37 pm
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Can someone explain how there

Can someone explain how there will be any savings?

It cost millions of dollars just to change the name of MCG. Now, we will be changing the name of MCG again as well as the name of ASU.

On top of that, you can't tell me that Azziz will keep his same salary. We will reduce positions, but then pad the salaries of those left to offset their new responsibilities.

In the end, just another short-sighted move, a move backward.

KelPierson
4
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KelPierson 01/05/12 - 08:38 pm
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I keep seeing reports that

I keep seeing reports that "everyone" is on board and nobody is disagreeing with this decision. Nobody has asked the students or professors at ASU! I, as an ASU student and a parent of an ASU student, completely disagree with this!!! The two schools have very few programs that overlap. How can you merge apples and oranges?

Also, Azziz is going to be at the helm? Are you nuts? He squandered millions from MCG just this year. Can you imagine how many millions it will cost to change signs, advertising, etc at TWO school locations? It's hard enough to pay tuition now. Once this foolishness begins, tuition will be too far out of reach for many of us to be able to afford to attend.

Why not survey the student body and staff at ASU to see how the majority really feel. I'm sure there are many at MCG that disagree with the decision as well.

mueckie
0
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mueckie 01/05/12 - 08:56 pm
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Three Million Dollars were

Three Million Dollars were spent not too long ago for a name change from MCG to GHSU. How much for the "merged" new name? The two units are nothing alike. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Somebody is real "big-headed". I wonder who??

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/05/12 - 09:44 pm
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If you look at the pictures,

If you look at the pictures, can you guess where Deke is?

If you guessed that he is hiding at his beach house, you are correct!

He dashed out of the meeting at the first hint of controversy faster than a teeny bopper chasing after the Bieber. Now, that is influential.

Haki
31
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Haki 01/05/12 - 11:02 pm
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As I've been saying for years

As I've been saying for years now. All this energy towards the President, while our local politicians have at it as they will.

sand gnat
463
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sand gnat 01/05/12 - 11:36 pm
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Wonder if they got Alvin

Wonder if they got Alvin Mason's approval on this?

CoastalDawg
125
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CoastalDawg 01/05/12 - 11:43 pm
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Once again your great

Once again your great government at work with no public input and in fact no public offering welcomed. I suppose we should have seen this one coming when there was such a push to open a medical campus in Athens. Would it not have been prudent to at least give the Augusta College/Augusta State University alumni some input or warning? The medical portion will not disappear but all vestiges of Augusta State will soon be gone and forgotten. No one has actually explained how this will save all the money that the regents claim will be saved. But if it's a done deal the only solution would be very expensive lawsuits which the public is not of a mind to do. So goodbye Augusta College/Augusta State University. Your stellar history is about to be trashed.

mary_snead
9
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mary_snead 01/06/12 - 06:16 am
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Has anyone noticed that the

Has anyone noticed that the bios for members of the Board of Regents reads like a cheerleading squad for UGA?

Riverman1
82167
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Riverman1 01/06/12 - 08:09 am
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Augusta Citizen said, "Bet

Augusta Citizen said, "Bet one is, Riverman."

Nope, I'm known. If you had attended our little get-together you would have known that. The next time, be there or be square.

Riverman1
82167
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Riverman1 01/06/12 - 08:34 am
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We could have one heck of an

We could have one heck of an Augusta party to celebrate the merger. We could stay drunk for days.

Cameron Poe
865
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Cameron Poe 01/06/12 - 09:25 am
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Very misleading title.

Very misleading title.

barb62
0
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barb62 01/06/12 - 11:26 am
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GHSU has 4 times the faculty

GHSU has 4 times the faculty that ASU has , 2 times less enrollment and a budget of $640 million. Seems like ASU is alot more efficient with its $50.9 million budget.

Fiat_Lux
15043
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Fiat_Lux 01/06/12 - 01:28 pm
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This reinforces my concern

This reinforces my concern and fear that all the graduate level medical education will move to Athens, at least the didactic part of it, leaving, at least temporarily, only clinical rotations and the undergrad programs in Augusta.

Most would be amazed at how much is being consolidated or completely cut at MCG (uh, GHSU, or "guess-who"). And Azziz, a mover and shaker perhaps on the order of "Shock and Awe", has "enterprise" projections for the future that are very parsimonious indeed. It's not a reassuring prospect, IMO.

Short timer
0
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Short timer 01/06/12 - 10:38 pm
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Wonder if they will start

Wonder if they will start charging ASU students, staff and faculty $60.00 a month for parking like they do at GHSU? Not sure what they do with all that cash, they sure don't maintain the parking areas! Just sayin....

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