Former ASU president doesn't mince words

In her parting letter to Dr. Ricardo Azziz, president of what once was the Medical College of Georgia and Augusta State University but now Georgia Regents University, interim ASU President Shirley Strum Kenny minced no words critiquing his leadership of the two campuses he’s supposed to be merging and warning him to mend his fences there and in the community he’s alienated.

 

DEAR RICARDO, OR HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN SCORNED:

The statements in quotes are from Kenny’s letter obtained by The Augusta Chronicle, followed by what she was really saying.

1. “Although I do not know, beyond what I have learned this semester, how education works at institutions like ASU. I do know a great deal about how research universities work.”

You don’t seem to.

2. “A research university is not a health sciences center jammed together with an undergraduate program.”

Tell me that’s not what you’re trying to do.

3. “The interaction of many kinds of stimuli creates at a university a special kind of intellectual environment, with the health of the whole a manifestation of the health of each part.”

It’s not all about you, Ricardo.

4. “The environment should become an intellectual ecosystem.”

There are other smart people out there, too.

5. “Attracting more and better undergraduates is an important first step in making GRU a research university.”

You can’t have a school without students. And you can’t have a good school without good students.

6. “That cannot be done by running generic ads, printing glossy publications, appearing on Youtube and putting more recruiters on the road unless you have a very good product to sell.”

Even glossy publications and Youtube can’t sell smoke and mirrors.

7. “The first thing that needs to get serious attention is the undergraduate curriculum.”

You can’t train people to be doctors unless they can read and write.

8. “Right now the CSRA seems to think of veteran enrollees as people who want to learn welding or some other skill and who use their GI Bill funding more or less as welfare.”

Without veterans, GRU would stand for German Reich Univer­sity or Grand Russian University.

9. “Undergraduates must have motivation instilled – they have to become hungry to learn. Faculty must imbue the excitement of learning the moment new students arrive on campus.”

School ought to be cool.

10. “The deans are excellent, and they are motivated, but they cannot effect the necessary changes alone.”

The deans are scared to death to even say what they think, much less effect changes.

11. “At Stony Brook when a world-renowned architect (who had designed Grand Central Sta­tion, Lincoln Center renovation, Rockefeller Center renovation, etc.) designed a new and beautiful central mall, he waited a while to brick the paths. He wanted to see where the traffic went and then make the paths serve the needs of the campus. I think you should now hold off on ‘paving the paths.’”

Remember what happened when you tried to close part of Laney-Walker Boulevard before knowing who drove on it?

12. “The university now has to heal, has to get over the sense of a hostile takeover, and there is no use pretending that sense does not exist.”

You’ve screwed things up so bad so far, don’t act like you don’t know it.

13. “There will have to be considerable fence-mending in the community. The whole town really loves ASU; it was their place; and it has been dissed and discarded, in their eyes. The community always really matters, not just the rich people but everybody.”

Apologize and get the Board of Regents to rescind that GRUsome name.

14. “The university definitely has fence-mending to do, and you should find some really talented people to do it. Otherwise the old resentments will not die.”

You need a team of Houdinis to get you out of this bind.

 

SO MUCH FOR THE LOW MAN ON THE TOTEM POLE: The Augusta Commission will vote on a resolution Tuesday asking local legislators to review Richmond County elected officials’ salaries.

The resolution failed in committee last week. If it fails again, lawmakers can give one or all a raise anyway. But they like having such resolutions so they can say they were only complying with a commission request.

Whatever they do, I don’t want to hear more hypocritical lip service from commissioners about giving deputies and lower-paid city employees raises.

They had a chance to give everyone a $750 increase this year but passed on it while exempting industries from a 1-cent excise tax on energy used in production. Then they turned around and gave the new sheriff and state court solicitor hefty raises not two months after they were sworn in.

 

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE MEN, DOGS NEED A NEW BFF: Happy Tails animal rescue group, which has been ordered to close by the state, is asking supporters to rally before next week’s Columbia County Commission meeting.

Happy Tails also asked the commission to send a letter to the Georgia Department of Agriculture in defense of the shelter, but Commission Chairman Ron Cross said they won’t because Happy Tails’ dispute is with the state. And they’ve heard complaints about noise and odor at the shelter.

What a cop out! Of course, noise and odor are far worse than stray dogs eating hamburger wrappers by the side of the road before being struck by a vehicle.

Happy Tails owner Barbara Gleitsmann wants supporters to meet in front of the Evans Government Center Auditorium at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, before the 6 p.m. commission meeting.

 

POPE, PREACHER AND PUNCH: If Mama was still alive, she’d have been like so many other Catholics, waiting anxiously to learn who would be the new pope.

Mama loved the pope. When Pope John Paul II visited Columbia in 1987, my brother took her to see him. I think I told you before how she got seven children to Mass every Sunday, then worked at the restaurant the rest of the day. In fact, I’m sure I told you, but I’m at the age now I have license to repeat my stories.

Daddy took a dim view of the pope and didn’t go to Mass with us. His people were Primitive Baptists, but he didn’t go to church unless somebody died.

Mama would load everybody but the baby into the car and drive to the Woman’s Club in Tifton, where we’d sit in cold, metal folding chairs and kneel on hardwood floors while the Franciscan mission priest said Mass. The music was provided by Mrs. Maddox, who drove in from Cordele with her portable organ. She was very enthusiastic in the way she pumped the wheezing pedals and sang, often going off key on high notes which made the children giggle and the priest grit his teeth.

I longed to be a Baptist because they had cookies and punch at the Baptist Training Union, and all the girls wore pastel organdy dresses and black patent Mary Janes. That’s where I learned the best way to shine black patent leather was with a biscuit.

 

LIFE IN FANTASY LAND: Every­where I go, people ask me how my husband, Ernie, is doing. This weekend he’s tilling the garden plot and checking on trades for his fantasy baseball teams. He’s in six leagues. He also collects baseball memorabilia we don’t have anywhere to put.

I asked him the other day how it was that someone like me who hates clutter ended up with a collector. He said, “You didn’t know what it would be like.”

Isn’t that always the case?

Former Augusta State president tells Azziz: 'It's not about you'

More