When thinking of ways to boost school spirit, changing the name of the school might be the last idea you’d come up with.
But ironically, that’s just what the Georgia Board of Regents did earlier this year when it voted to change the name of the soon-to-be-merged Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University to the dismal “Georgia Regents University.”
The meaningless name, adopted even after this area, the state and the entire nation voted instead for “University of Augusta” in surveys and public comment, raised not only the schools’ spirit, but the entire Augusta community’s.
In total opposition to the name.
The name is not a done deal, we assure you. Not by a long shot.
In fact, an organized effort to get the name changed to include “Augusta” is only beginning.
A group of local business owners revealed Wednesday that they have plans to launch a “Save the A” campaign, aimed at persuading Gov. Nathan Deal, University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby and the Board of Regents to change the name.
As this editorial page noted recently, few specific news items in our memory have inspired the tsunami of letters to the editor, columns and rants that the Georgia Regents University name has – almost unanimously, and certainly vehemently, opposed to it.
Our friends in Atlanta – and they are our friends; they’re ramping up investment in the two schools even as the name brouhaha broils on – may not understand the width and depth of this community’s disgust for the GRU name, and how dismissively it was arrived at. They may believe it will all blow over.
As the impending “Save the A” campaign demonstrates, that presumption would be hopelessly misguided.
The upcoming campaign, despite the circumstances that gave rise to it, will be quite positive. We encourage you to join it when it’s fully formed and launched.
And we hope our state leaders will take note.
This does not have to be a bad thing, after all is said and done. We hope Gov. Deal, the chancellor and the Board of Regents look at this as a good thing: Here is a community that feels so invested and engaged in its state universities that it’s willing to go miles in order to get the name right.
Other communities could perhaps be accused of rank parochialism for insisting their names were in the local university’s name. In the case of Augusta, it’s just logic: Augusta is a global brand name, known the world over thanks to that little golf tournament we host every April. For goodness’ sake, why go out of your way to throw that brand away? Any company would love to start out with that kind of name recognition!
In contrast, Dr. Ricardo Azziz, who will head up the merged entity, admits that the GRU brand will take some 20 years to even get a foothold.
Even if this community’s fervor for the name were merely civic pride, we’d ask: What in the world is wrong with that? How can anyone turn a burning pride in one’s community into a negative?
We urge our state leaders to see it as the beautiful thing it is – and to nip this in the bud by happily yielding to the deep and abiding sentiment for a name change.
If they haven’t seen it by now, they’ll soon see our commitment to it.