Speaking Thursday to the Augusta West Rotary Club, Azziz said the merger, which officially went through in January 2013, was one of five in the past 30 years that consolidated a health sciences university with a broader-based institution – but it won’t be the last.
“Across the nation, more and more institutions are looking at how they merge and come together to actually create a larger whole,” he said.
“Whether it is in health care where hospitals are merging together and creating larger networks, whether it is companies in business, or whether it is universities, size matters. Why? The larger you are, the more competitive you are on a global basis, the more you’re able to compete.”
That is why China has been consolidating its universities over the past 20 years to make them more globally competitive, he said. GRU now boasts the highest enrollment in health science programs it has ever had, Azziz said, and the demand for student housing “is at an all-time high.”
GRU is one of nine universities the University System of Georgia has targeted to bring in private developers to build student housing, Azziz said. The hope is to have new housing for 650 students within a couple of years, initially on the Health Sciences campus. The school is at work on a master plan for facilities, and consultants are still gathering data, Azziz said.
He promised the audience, “all of you will be notified, and we hope to educate the community as we get a better idea of what our plans are.”
The school opened a Confucius Institute in partnership with a government agency in China to bring Chinese culture to the university, but GRU’s is the only one in North America with an academic medical center seeking to bring traditional Chinese medicine in, Azziz said. As an expert in polycystic ovary syndrome, Azziz studied acupuncture and traditional Chinese herb therapies.