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Analysis: Regents defend school name choice

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ATLANTA -- Selecting a name for the merged university in Augusta was an inevitable collision course, like parents deciding which grandfather to name the first child after.

In this case, should it be named after the city or after the board?

Ironically, both camps say they are motivated by the same goal, even if they see different strategies for getting there.

Residents of Augusta and the Board of Regents that governs Georgia’s 35 public colleges both say they want to set the school on a path for national prominence.

When other communities were ducking the merging of their colleges, Augusta volunteered. Local civic leaders motivated by boosterism thought having one, pretty-good-sized university would give them more heft than having two smaller schools.

Locals argue that including the city in the moniker will piggyback on the Augusta’s reputation for hosting the annual Masters Tournament. Actually, they hope the name will add to Augusta’s renown as the school grows in stature.

Of course, success hosting a golf tournament doesn’t necessarily suggest to the public that the city would necessarily shine in the field of medical research. While the Masters may be one of the classiest of sporting events, it has nothing to do with cutting-edge science or academics.

Despite a few examples like Boston University and the University of Chicago, schools named for small cities tend to be community colleges or undistinguished state schools, and that’s a connotation the board wants to avoid.

“If we’re going to have a first-class institution, which we’re working to build in Augusta, we need to have a national presence,” said Regent Neil L. Pruitt, Jr.

That strikes Augustans as an insult.

Residents of Georgia’s Second City have a noticeable inferiority complex which makes them seem a little whiny to people in Atlanta. It’s no secret that while most Atlantans enjoy football in Athens and sightseeing in Savannah, they don’t feel much connection to the rest of the state.

Pruitt, for instance, said he was relying on the fact that the names were tested nationally by a marketing survey firm.

Of course, of all the words in the English language to pick other than “Augusta,” the board may still have wound up with a liability. For one thing, it could spark a lawsuit from Regent University in Virginia, a faith-based school founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson and the holder of federal trademark protection for use of the name in an educational setting. If not a lawsuit, then perhaps a lightning bolt from Heaven.

Regent University isn’t known for science research any more than the Masters Tournament is. If nothing else, the name could lead to confusion, notes Regent University President Carlos Campo.

Like a father who names his son Junior, the members of the Board of Regents says critics are looking at it the wrong way. The name guarantees they’ll continue to have a protective sentiment toward their namesake school, the favorite child, so to speak. No parent would say that in hearing range of the other kids, but look at what else the board did moments after christening the school.

The board voted unanimously to build a $100 million cancer center as part of a goal to get national recognition. It approved $2 million more in funds to jumpstart residency programs for the school’s graduates, and it endorsed $5 million to equip the medical commons building it also agreed to expand.

The total of projects under way or approved comes to $1.2 billion that the state will infuse into the Augusta economy, notes Regent Tommy Hopkins, a graduate of the Medical College of Georgia.

“To continue this exponential growth, the university needs a partner from more than just Augusta,” he said. “We need a name that donors from throughout Georgia can support and not feel they are abandoning their local colleges and universities.”

He adds that the donors from Augusta he surveyed can live with the new name.

While the members of the board may feel more affection for the school than for the city it’s located in, they argue that the interests of the school and the city aren’t in conflict.

“We need to acknowledge the concerns of the citizens of Augusta and make sure that, irregardless of this vote here today, make sure they know their voices are important and that (in the ) long term their support for that school is just so critical,” said Regent Kessel Stelling, an Augusta native who now lives in Columbus.

In last week’s vote, the regents -- probably with the prior approval of the governor who grew up just south of Augusta -- say they selected the name because they’re as devoted to the school as Augustans are to their hometown.

“We stand on the cusp of what I believe is going to be the next great, research university in America,” said Regent Dean Alford. “The vision is going to benefit them in Augusta and have a global impact.”

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KSL
130156
Points
KSL 08/11/12 - 09:38 am
5
2
Really?

Really?

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 08/11/12 - 09:46 am
3
3
KSL,

Yes, really.

dbruker
46
Points
dbruker 08/11/12 - 09:51 am
7
1
There's something rotten in Denmark

"Pruitt, for instance, said he was relying on the fact that the names were tested nationally by a marketing survey firm." And from I read University of Augusta was the top choice and GRU was the least favorite. So why waste $45,500 on a survey if you have already made your mind up?

dbruker
46
Points
dbruker 08/11/12 - 09:51 am
4
1
There's something rotten in Denmark

"Pruitt, for instance, said he was relying on the fact that the names were tested nationally by a marketing survey firm." And from I read University of Augusta was the top choice and GRU was the least favorite. So why waste $45,500 on a survey if you have already made your mind up?

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 08/11/12 - 09:57 am
10
1
irregardless?
Unpublished

Anyone who uses the (non)word "irregardless" does not need to be on a board making decisions of this magnitude.

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 08/11/12 - 10:10 am
6
0
Seems like...

a few people in power forgot where they came from! "Born South of Augusta", "graduate of MCG" and "Augusta native"... They left out, "here's 100 million dollars, shut-up Augusta". Why do so many leaders in this country feel it's okay to lie and then continue to lie once their caught?

Looking at you Azziz and BOR...

scorehouse
196
Points
scorehouse 08/11/12 - 10:30 am
0
0
GRU
Unpublished

school of medicine gets ya GRUSOM! make a nice blood red tee shirt with a couple of partial birth abortion pix to match. talk about ego. why don't they just have a snake draft and start naming all the schools after themselves?

gatasince89
8
Points
gatasince89 08/11/12 - 10:48 am
6
1
So Augusta is a "small city"?

So Augusta is a "small city"? ... I grew up in Norwood, Ga., in Warren County -- THAT'S a small city! #Yelton's gas station #Harper's Mercantile #and a post office!

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 08/11/12 - 11:20 am
4
0
Maybe they could use...

some of that 100 million on the parking decks, so they don't flood like they did this morning or any other time mother nature decides she wants it to rain in the medical district.

Azziz, flooding parking decks are not cool!

townsends
185
Points
townsends 08/11/12 - 11:40 am
4
0
Coming soon, the new Regents Mall...

Where you can get a loan for new clothes from Regents Bank and a school loan for Regents University.

This just keeps getting better and better!

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 08/11/12 - 12:00 pm
3
3
The "irregardless" does send
Unpublished

The "irregardless" does send a message of what we're dealing with here. I wonder what college that guy graduated from? Oh wait, a college education isn't necessary to rule over the state colleges in Georgia.

KSL
130156
Points
KSL 08/11/12 - 02:57 pm
5
1
I need to read more

I need to read more carefully. I tend to skim when I read bs.

showboat
336
Points
showboat 08/11/12 - 12:22 pm
0
0
It a dang shame that a member
Unpublished

It a dang shame that a member of a big board can use the word "irregardless".

johnalifsey
27
Points
johnalifsey 08/11/12 - 12:33 pm
6
0
Walter Jones sounds like a

Walter Jones sounds like a typical Atlantan when he refers to people in Augusta have an inferiority complex. Not me and not the fine residents of Augusta. I don't want to be Atlanta. I think its Mr. Walter and the poor people who think like him are posessed with inferiorities in reverse. Seems to me that Augusta has always been Augusta. We didn't change our name unlike Atlanta (remember Marthasville and Terminus). Hell, I'd change my name, too. As for riding on the back of the Masters Golf Tournament, guess what, Augusta stands on its own feet. As for being a small town, were just the right size (check out other communities that host universities. In my opinion, Mr Walter Jones is just another ignorant pen pusher living in Atlanta (probably not even his hometown).

RoadkiII
6596
Points
RoadkiII 08/11/12 - 12:43 pm
5
0
Reading Comprehension Not Required to be a Regent

Had they gone with the results of the market research and surveys, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents would have voted for University of Augusta as the new name for the consolidated Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities, according to records obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.

In the only time it was included in the survey, the name the regents selected – Georgia Regents University – did not even rank in the top 3.

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 08/11/12 - 01:36 pm
2
0
First-class institution

So why has the university (GRU) been demoted to division ll from division l? Making GRU into a top 50 university in the nation is an under statement. Rice University in Houston Texas is the nation's smallest Division l University. So wouldn't it be more political correct to have said that GRU could be a top 50 division ll university? The only way to be first-class is to be a D1 university. So now dose this mean that UGA is now the state of Georgia the lead medical school institution university, because GRU is now a D2 university? I know the answer from the BoR will be "We Have No Comment At This Time" .

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 08/11/12 - 01:24 pm
2
0
By the way Georgia BoR

Has the Board of Regents considered consolidating some of the metro Atlanta area colleges and universities?

Fiat_Lux
15454
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/11/12 - 01:42 pm
3
0
Utter and complete horse hockey.

I wonder if Walter really expects us to swallow this swill.

The funding of those projects was ALREADY GOING TO HAPPEN no matter what they christened this historic and very fine institution. And they will not be more protective of us, no matter what this credulous guy believes. (I'm looking for the turnip truck.)

The BOR won't even approve raises that would bring us up to the lowest market salary levels, which makes it abundantly clear that the people who actually run MCG don't matter in the least to them. So much for making sure we know our voices are important. Ten percent across the board raises would have made this much more palatable, even though that would not have made up for the past half decade of losing ground.

But we are very much aware that our support is critical. At least he got that part right.

Sweet son
10422
Points
Sweet son 08/11/12 - 01:42 pm
2
0
You Know What?

We keep hearing about wanting to be a university with national prominence but what makes a school elidgebile to use that designation. For many years millions of dollars have been thrown the way of the Medical College and whatever it's name might be today. I am very much a supporter of that institution as well as Augusta State but we the taxpayers of this community and the State of Georgia need to see our money being spent to train students and save lives. I read the AC daily and do not often see articles that describe major research efforts that actually do anything. I know that looking at test tubes and hearing a researcher talk about their work is pretty boring so just give us the notes and make us believe that we are nationally prominent and that the Universities deserve for us to send more money! All we have seen Dr. Cool do to date is change names and spend money. Come on Doc get in the game and quit the empire building!!!

And, whoever said it, Walter Jones needs to write about something he knows about and just stay his butt and his pen in Atlanta.

Fiat_Lux
15454
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/11/12 - 01:49 pm
3
0
The guy sure can craft an insult though.

"Locals argue that including the city in the moniker will piggyback on the Augusta’s reputation for hosting the annual Masters Tournament. Actually, they hope the name will add to Augusta’s renown as the school grows in stature."
____________

I just wonder who told him that absurd nonsense. He seems to be taking a page out of Azziz's book on the sophistication of Augustans.

I wonder just how foolish old Walter feels now that the Chronicle has published the actual results of the national survey.

I just shake my head at the tunnel vision.

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 08/11/12 - 02:17 pm
2
0
Good luck with your Endeavors

Dose anyone know what's at stake? i didn't think so. Great incentive for the Ga. BoR to take advantage of and the confidence do what they did. no one really knew what was the most important status of the university to preserve.

scamp1
103
Points
scamp1 08/11/12 - 02:31 pm
4
0
To Sweet Son

You are so right about King Azziz spending money. However, staff at both institutions are not getting pay raises, and the BOR voted to increase the percntage they must pay for insurance. At the same time, the BOR and Azziz are spending many millions on the merger, master plans that will make ASU look like GA State in the middle of Summerville, market reports they don't read, touring the state to lobby for an ugly name, etc. Of course they allowed MCG to keep the name, "MCG", otherwise it would officially be Georgia Regents University School of Medicine or GRUSOM - no doctor donations there. This whole merger and name business is insulting to Augusta and just rotten. I wish someone could find out exactly how many millions have been spent and will be spent on the merger and name game. Law suits are OK, but I like the suggested bolt of lightning. For now the score is:

ASU - 0, Atlanta/Athens - 1.

However, the game is not over. If reporters can get the facts on the money that has and will be spent on this merger and name change, and if Summerville residents realize the monstrosity Azziz has planned for their neighborhood, maybe . . . just maybe . . .

Oh, and who in Augusta "volunteered" for the merger and when???????

Fiat_Lux
15454
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/11/12 - 02:45 pm
4
0
Heads up, Chronicle

You should check out how many new people have started sounding off with comments since this name was dropped on us at the end of the workday last Friday.

You have a golden opportunity to become the hero of the CSRA if you pursue this with some energy and consistency, because people are hot about his name thing.

Has anyone ever seen such unity among the people in this community before this week? I never have, with the possible exception of the loyalty we felt for each other as Americans after 9/11. It probably hasn't even existed since the 1860s.

I'm actually quite proud of us.

KSL
130156
Points
KSL 08/11/12 - 03:03 pm
3
0
Walter is a writer or

Walter is a writer or "reporter" for Morris news service. He appears to cover government issues having to do with the state.

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/11/12 - 03:51 pm
0
4
georgia regents
Unpublished

is not the ideal name.. but it is far better than University of Augusta. If they had named it that it would have been a sure sign that the main medical school was being moved to Athens

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/11/12 - 03:54 pm
0
4
Augusta's reputation
Unpublished

is not good throughout the state. In fact former Governor Sonny Perdue once remarked that he wished he could give the city to South Carolina as a gag gift.

RoadKing
105
Points
RoadKing 08/11/12 - 04:25 pm
4
0
GRU-some decision ....

Our tax dollars are paying Azziz $650K a year and this is what we get ? Plus, I don't trust a character with 3 z's in his name ......

Fiat_Lux
15454
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/11/12 - 05:38 pm
1
0
@KSL

Did Walter write this as an op-ed piece? It sure reads that way with all the unattributed analysis and opinion.

KSL
130156
Points
KSL 08/11/12 - 06:35 pm
2
0
His name is up there. He also

His name is up there. He also wrote the article about the records that are going to be kept on students K through college. Wonder what teachers would think of Azziz's art.

Dave108
4
Points
Dave108 08/11/12 - 06:35 pm
2
0
Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I saw no problem with the names "Medical College of Georgia" and "Augusta State University" and them being two different schools. I graduated from MCG in 2007, and this is now the second name change I've had to endure in less than 5 years. Maybe I'll just cover up the name "Medical College of Georgia" on my diploma with a bumper sticker that says "This space for rent."

If the GA BoR wants to increase the prestige of the two universities, they can dole out some cash to lure in some professors who will bring in research grants, and improve facilities to make it more enticing for prospective students to attend. They are kidding themselves if they think a name change to "Georgia Regents University" will do much to improve the university's stature. They are putting a brown paper bag over the face of someone that wasn't really unattractive to begin with.

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