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Commissioner wants "Augusta" in university's name

Mayor accepts Georgia Regents University

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Neutral until now, Augusta Commission member Matt Aitken said he wants “Augusta” in the name of the consolidated university formed by the merger of Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities.

District 1 Augusta Commissioner Matt Aitken (right)  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
District 1 Augusta Commissioner Matt Aitken (right)

“It seems like the Board of Regents didn’t get the facts that were in the survey,” Aitken said. “I talked to (GHSU President Ricardo) Azziz and I thought they were doing the study and research and it was going in that direction.”

Aitken was one of two city commissioners to vote against Commissioner Jerry Brigham’s June 5 resolution in support of keeping “Augusta” in the consolidated university’s name. The measure needed one more vote to pass.

Aitken, whose wife earned a physical therapy degree from Medical College of Georgia, said he is now taking an active stance against the University System of Georgia Board of Regents’ name choice, Georgia Regents University.

Aitken’s opposition runs counter to Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s statements last week and Tuesday that he has accepted the choice and wants to move on.

“That’s OK,” Aitken said. “If you look at the (District 1) makeup, there’s a lot of diversity in the district – the business community, college
students. They might not all be voters, but a lot attend the university and are not happy.

“Sometimes we have to take a stand. I think, too, as we look at the history of where we’re going in the district, as the universities merge, the decision is going to affect this city for years and years to come.”

Copenhaver, a 1991 graduate of what was then Augusta College and a longtime ASU Foundation trustee, released a statement late Tuesday saying although he preferred University of Augusta during the naming process, “the decision has now been made and the Board of Regents has shared with me that the decision is definitely final.”

“It should not go unnoticed nor unappreciated,” the mayor wrote, “that Gov. Nathan Deal has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to help ensure that Georgia Regents University is a long-term success and a nationally recognized institution which will be a major boost to the future growth of our city in a multitude of ways.

“In moving forward, I believe that the best expenditure of my time and efforts is to do everything possible to help the new university grow and prosper here in Augusta to the benefit of the citizens of our community educationally, economically and socially for generations to come.”

Commissioner Bill Lockett joined Copenhaver in accepting the new name.

“It would be beneficial to us as a community to take a deep breath, and step back for a moment and consider the fact that over $1 billion will be coming to this community as a result of these two schools coming together,” Lockett said.

The issue will likely affect the District 1 commission election, in which Aitken has four opponents Nov. 6: Denice Traina, Bill Fennoy, Thelonious Jones and Stanley Hawes.

Traina, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MCG and worked at GHSU until last year, said she wished the new name retained elements of the liberal “arts” and “medicine” offerings now found at ASU and GHSU.

“It does seem funny that you ask the public their opinion, then you reject that opinion,” said Traina.

When her son begins school at GHSU this fall, however, she will be “more concerned what’s inside those walls than what is plastered on the outside,” Traina said.

Hawes, whose wife is nearing retirement from GHSU, complimented Aitken for taking a stand on the name issue.

“I cannot knock the effort to try to exhaust every avenue we could,” Hawes said.

Recalling Augusta’s $10 million donation of the former Gilbert Manor housing project for the GHSU College of Dental Medicine, Hawes said the universities and the city are hopelessly intertwined.

“Once the direction is set, we’re being asked to help,” he said. “Augusta needs to be recognized as a key player.”

REGENTS’ STATEMENT

Statement on Wednesday from Board of Regents Chairman Benjamin Tarbutton III, who represents the 12th Congressional District:

“I read the story in today’s Augusta Chronicle regarding the name for the new consolidated university in Augusta. We all appreciate that there are different viewpoints and good arguments on every side. But the Board of Regents weighed the alternatives and concluded that the name should reflect the new institution’s statewide mission. Now we need to move on to the next stages of consolidation. We do understand the strong feelings around the issue, but the Board will not reconsider its action. We are committed to building a strong, comprehensive research university in Augusta.”

Comments (24)

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soapy_725
43306
Points
soapy_725 08/15/12 - 02:39 pm
0
0

More political drama

Unpublished

Mayor's buddy is fainting opinion change for votes and support. He has already spoke to his handlers. Keeping Aitkens in his commission seat which supports Deke in all matters is more important that GRU or whatever. This is standard operating procedure for career politicians and wanna bees. No news her folks. Swapping a rook for check mate.

soapy_725
43306
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soapy_725 08/15/12 - 02:41 pm
0
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More of the same

Unpublished

Bowles, on parking deck fiasco, voted for it knowing it was illegal and when he is not running for reelection, he will sue the city on behalf of his constituents.

soapy_725
43306
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soapy_725 08/15/12 - 02:43 pm
0
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There are none so blind, as they

Unpublished

that who will not see (the truth). Committed acts of willful ignorance.

scgator
1042
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scgator 08/15/12 - 02:58 pm
5
0

TYPICAL MATT

"Aitken said. “If you look at the District (1) makeup, there’s a lot of diversity in the district – the business community, college students."

It's funny that when an Augusta politician "refuses" or "declines" to take a stand on issues, the media refer to him or her as wanting to remain "neutral" instead of NO BACKBONE!

This is typical Matt; don't commit to anything until you see which way the wind is blowing. He ALWAYS straddles the fence, until he can see which side will benefit him..............ZERO backbone and character; but, what would you expect from a former felon? Honesty? Integrity? Openness?

soapy_725
43306
Points
soapy_725 08/15/12 - 02:51 pm
0
0

Deke will get the ball stadium / mulitiuse / university park

Unpublished

not matter what the GRU - some outcome. The deals and the money are all in play. And we know "the players in River City".

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 08/15/12 - 02:59 pm
4
3

congrats on getting into MCG,

congrats on getting into MCG, Joey.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/15/12 - 03:24 pm
6
1

When will Ricardo "Tariq"

When will Ricardo "Tariq" Azziz look out the window and recognize reality for what it is?

David Parker
7919
Points
David Parker 08/15/12 - 03:32 pm
5
2

Deke is trying to get lofty

Deke is trying to get lofty now?

- His time is better spent helping the citizens of Augusta in spite of themselves.
- He's abandoned the fight for the good of the people. Wow, never knew how deep his feelings ran.

Better stop wearing your heart on your sleeve and practice your canned responses Mr. Mayor and stop being so darn empathetic toward OUR goals.

gottcha
29
Points
gottcha 08/15/12 - 04:18 pm
8
0

Weak Commissioner

Matt has been the biggest disappoint to those that live in District 1 and those that work in Public Safety. He has sold out to the power brokers of Augusta and the only reason he is changing his stance now is because of his re-election campaign. The For Sale sign on his back should say I will Sell Out District 1 as well. Matt must go!!!

gottcha
29
Points
gottcha 08/15/12 - 05:12 pm
6
0

Follow the Money

Look who is backing Matt in his attempt to blindfold those voters in District 1 again. He has and will continue to sell out his constituents to be in the power. I'm looking forward to working that District in the next few months. I have no idea who I'll be backing and working for, But you can bet your last dollar it WON'T be Matt(Jellyfish)Aitken.

jmo
12189
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jmo 08/15/12 - 06:15 pm
6
0

What a crew!

Matt jumps on the bandwagon when he sees how the majority of the public feels, Deke "You can't make me take a stand on anything" has personal aspirations, and three commissioners were absent from the meeting (which is unacceptable in itself). It's business as usual with the Augusta, or should I say "Regents", Commission. When are we going to get these "clowns" out of office?

Riverman1
70405
Points
Riverman1 08/15/12 - 06:46 pm
7
0

So We Rename and Got Hundreds of Millions?

Deke said, "“It should not go unnoticed nor unappreciated that Gov. Nathan Deal has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to help ensure that Georgia Regents University is a long-term success and a nationally recognized institution which will be a major boost to the future growth of our city in a multitude of ways."

Heck, if being named Georgia Regents U. is why we got the money, they should have said that up front and we all may have supported it. Somehow I think the truth is one has nothing to do with the other. Think Deke knows that?

scamp1
103
Points
scamp1 08/15/12 - 07:05 pm
3
0

Shame on Lockett

Shame on Lockett - it's his district that is losing the at least $100 million in construction planned in the recent ASU Master Plan(tossed out by Azziz) for the Wrightsboro Campus. This mess is more than the name. Augusta beware, Azziz might just try to lead the charge to change the GRU name to become a hero and get everyone behind the flawed merger plans. GHSU ranks at the bottom of national medical school rankings, but ASU was a great university in both teaching and research. Now it would take more than the name change and the Governor's "promised" money to make the merged university even survive much less become a great research university. I hope the Chronicle continues to investigate and get to the bottom of this mess. The Chronicle, and now Matt Aitken seem to be the only ones not afraid of Azziz. Go Chronicle, Go Aitken, Go Jags!

Fiat_Lux
13857
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Fiat_Lux 08/15/12 - 07:34 pm
3
0

Re: $1 billion

Do these people really think this money is coming to the New U because of the name that was chosen? Surely they aren't that stupid! Surely they aren't pandering on this.

Somebody please tell me they aren't afraid of losing this funding if they speak up against this awful affront of a name.

Conservative Man
4578
Points
Conservative Man 08/15/12 - 07:40 pm
5
0

Agreed @ Matt

Matt has been a disappointment for sure. A bit of history on his stances. He voted to fire Fred before he voted to keep Fred. He voted against keeping Augusta in the name of the university before he decided he wanted to keep it. Deke, AND Matt have backbones of jelly.
I will not support ANY of the current candidates for District 1 Commissioner as they are all lacking in intellect and ability.
Love her or hate her, the only candidate who was capable was Lori Davis and she is out of the race. Until we get able representation, District 1, which includes downtown will continue to suffer.....

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 08/15/12 - 08:06 pm
7
0

THE BOARD OF REGENTS HAS

THE BOARD OF REGENTS HAS SPOKEN. Now just go on out in the street and play. See if they care if you are run over by a truck. And when they undress tonight, they will have to get Azziz's nose out of their underwear.

scoopdedoop64
2235
Points
scoopdedoop64 08/15/12 - 08:31 pm
5
0

Tis A Shame

It is a real shame how this whole thing has gone. It just goes to show what happens when you you sell out. this whole merger thing was not good in my book and now that it is done we have a bunch of Yankees determining what we call our used to be school. Heck with all of them as far as I am concerned.

Riverman1
70405
Points
Riverman1 08/15/12 - 09:02 pm
3
0

Not true

Someone said, "GHSU ranks at the bottom of national medical school rankings.."

That's not true, plus something else wasn't accurate.

scgator
1042
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scgator 08/15/12 - 09:13 pm
3
0

This ranking is from 2005 and

This ranking is from 2005 and shows Augusta @ #77 nationally; I don't think they have climbed much further up the ladder..........http://www.residentphysician.com/Medicalschool_rankings.htm

Common.sense
445
Points
Common.sense 08/16/12 - 12:14 am
3
1

Why don't they discuss

Why don't they discuss something important? Like what do they plan on doing on the crime in Augusta or what they could do to revitalize downtown. Not something as trivial as the name of a medical college.

useful
550
Points
useful 08/16/12 - 07:35 am
4
0

It may be a good thing that

It may be a good thing that Deke the meek is not up for reelection this year.

KSL
105595
Points
KSL 08/16/12 - 07:36 am
1
0

Because crime is not the

Because crime is not the reason these forums are being held unless you want to call it a crime to accept a gift of $10 million plus dollars in value and this diss the donors.

parrdennis
4
Points
parrdennis 08/16/12 - 07:53 am
0
0

University name

If Georgia is really trying to create a state wide university system support by THE University of Georgia why don't they follow what Wisconsin did. In Wisconsin it us The University of Wisconsin, or UW. Madison being the top level school. Thus there is UW-Milwaukee, UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Whitewater, UW-LaCrosse, etc., etc., etc., taking all the smaller local colleges and making them stronger by making them part of a state wide system. In this case, there is The University of Georgia (UG). It would then be UG-Augusta, etc. All independent by supported by UG. I realize that a state wide support system is not what is happening here. But mergers of schools will soon lead to a need for this type of support. Then local politicians don't have a say as the state board of regents along with the local universities board of regents makes the decisions.

Little Lamb
40104
Points
Little Lamb 08/16/12 - 08:00 am
1
0

Plan

Susan McCord wrote:

. . . Augusta Commission member Matt Aitken said he wants “Augusta” in the name of the consolidated university. . . . Aitken . . . said he is now taking an active stance against the University System of Georgia Board of Regents’ name choice. . . . “Sometimes we have to take a stand. . . .”

Okay, now that Aitken has blustered and snorted, what is he going to do about it? Is he going to call his fellow commissioners one by one and line up six votes for a resolution? Is he going to put the resolution on next week's commission meeting agenda? Is he going to make the motion? Second the motion? Is Aitken capable of actually composing the wording of the motion in language that speaks strongly to the Board of Regents, or should perhaps he ask Joe Bowles to help with that? Who will be delegated the task of writing the letter to the Board of Regents?

The city charter says that the Mayor should sign the letter.

Riverman1
70405
Points
Riverman1 08/16/12 - 08:12 am
2
0

GHSU Ranking Is Pretty Good

Let’s not belittle our wonderful medical school. This year the US News and World Report ranks GHSU number 63 for primary care institutions and number 69 for research institutions. That’s ahead of Stanford, Georgetown, Florida, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Southern Cal, Maryland and about 100 other schools.
http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/...

Riverman1
70405
Points
Riverman1 08/16/12 - 08:14 am
2
0

Also, I love ASU, but it is

Also, I love ASU, but it is most certainly not a top research university. All this is off subject. I do think the name should be University of Augusta. Just trying to be factual.

Little Lamb
40104
Points
Little Lamb 08/16/12 - 08:22 am
1
0

List

Looking at scgator's list above, it appears it is not a ranking of medical school quality, but rather a ranking of who got grant money from the Naational Institutes of Health. I'm not sure what the grants were for, but a good guess was grant money to help fund their resident physician programs.

Anyway, on the list are several universities with city names in the university name:

U.C. San Francisco
U.C. San Diego
U.C. Irvine
University of Pittsburgh
University of Chicago
University of Rochester
University of Cincinnati
University of Louisville
University of Miami
Loma Linda University
New York University
Boston University
St. Louis University

Why not add Augusta to that list?

Riverman1
70405
Points
Riverman1 08/16/12 - 09:32 am
1
0

Lack of NIH funding to GHSU

Lack of NIH funding to GHSU has always been a problem. We all know that, but THAT is only one indicator of a med school's ranking. Let's get in there and fight for more of the feds money.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 08/16/12 - 12:28 pm
0
0

Grants

Might be who they have at GHSU doing the grants. Grants can be very complicated and you have to know what you are doing and stay on top of it. They can take a long time, man hours, have conditions some times....

I have seen brochures come through for 1 or 2-week courses on how to do grants.

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