Name-brand quality

Excluding 'Augusta' in school renaming would be a huge mistake

Jerry Brigham speaks for many when he says the consolidated university here needs to have “Augusta” in its name.

But the Augusta commissioner is being diplomatic when he suggests a growing movement to get Augusta in the name “is not saying we’re not going to be happy if Augusta isn’t in the name.”

A lot of people, particularly Augusta State University’s considerable alumni base here, won’t be happy at all if “Augusta” is left out.

It will feel to them, and to much of the community, as if the city itself is being left out.

Several committees will work over the many names proposed for the consolidated ASU and Georgia Health Sciences University. The state Board of Regents will choose a name from three finalists in July.

The importance of this decision is about more than civic pride – though there’s plenty of that to go around. Many Augustans feel it will be a slap in the face to both ASU and the community to leave the word “Augusta” out of the new university’s name. We agree.

Such a move could also turn off current and potential donors.

But we also believe it would be a monumental mistake for the university, the Regents and the state to try something other than “The University of Augusta,” or something close to that.

Here’s why:

Part of naming the newly consolidated school is the job of “branding” it – getting its name known. The head of the consolidated university, and the current president of GHSU, Dr. Ricardo Azziz, is a visionary leader, and a global thinker. There can be no doubt that he not only wants the school to be one of the finest in Georgia and the Southeast, but also in the nation and world – particularly in the health sciences, as he is a medical doctor with an international reputation himself.

So why throw away the word “Augusta” – when it already is one of the best brand names in the world? Augusta is known the world over as the home of the Masters. And for several decades now, the shorthand reference to the tournament has become “Augusta.” National and international commentators and players have helped make it so – declaring that they’re “going to Augusta” the first week in April.

Other communities, other colleges, even big companies, would love to have that positive, widespread brand recognition. Why would the Board of Regents want to throw it away?

First and foremost, though, Dr. Azziz, his colleagues and the Board of Regents all need to know just how strongly this community feels about “Augusta” being in the name.

We suspect it will take an outpouring: Dr. Azziz recently seemed to tip his own hand when he was quoted, “This is a comprehensive American university. This is not a local university.”

Well, neither is the Masters a local golf tournament.

In the weeks to come, we expect there will be opportunities for area leaders and residents to make their sentiments known all the more. We invite you to write us a letter to the editor (easy instructions being elsewhere on this page). And should the occasion arise, we hope you will consider attending any meetings, press conferences or rallies.

State leaders in charge of the name change need to know how we feel. We expect they should see it and feel it too.

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