The commission is scheduled to vote on two resolutions asking the Regents to include “Augusta” in the new name of the consolidated university, which has been named Georgia Regents University.
Attached to Tuesday’s meeting agenda at the request of Commissioner Matt Aitken is the same resolution that the commission voted against in June, but the city’s general counsel, Andrew MacKenzie, released a shorter version late Friday.
Both resolutions mention the origins of ASU and GHSU in Augusta’s history, but the newer version cites the existence of universities with city names in their titles, such as Princeton University and the University of Memphis.
Aitken voted against the resolution in June but said this week he has changed his mind now that university system officials apparently disregarded local input and costly study data.
Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who urged the commission to approve the resolution in June, said he isn’t sure he supports it now.
“I think at this point it’s too little, too late,” he said. “I don’t think our (legislative) delegation has enough strength to change anything. The only people that could are the Regents, and I don’t see them changing anything they’ve done.”
Commissioner Grady Smith, who graduated from Augusta College before it was renamed Augusta State University in 2001, said that despite the new name’s seeming omission of much of ASU’s tradition and history, he is still undecided.
“There’s a lot of history at that school. I wonder if it’s going to be obliterated,” Smith said. “If there’s a compromise coming, let’s get it out on the table now.”
Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who supported keeping “Augusta” in the name before the Regents’ decision, and Commissioner Bill Lockett said this week that Augusta should embrace the Regents’ choice and think of the millions the state is investing in the merged institution.
Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles said he doubts the resolution will get six supporting votes Tuesday and didn’t support it himself.
“It’s a little too late for suggestions, after the decision is made,” Bowles said.
A similar resolution in Columbia County, announced earlier this week and up for approval Tuesday by the Columbia County Commission, is four paragraphs long and asks merely that the Regents “reconsider” the choice of Georgia Regents University “for one more appropriate for the region.”
University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock said the Regents’ 17-1 vote to call the new university Georgia Regents University indicated minds were made up, at least for now.
“(A local resolution) might have more impact potentially with the governor, who appoints the Board of Regents,” Bullock said. “If I was trying to put some leverage somewhere, that’s where I would try to lean.”