My wife and I are graduates of the former Medical College of Georgia and Augusta College, respectively. My two degrees from AC played a significant role in my becoming a vice president of a large company here in Augusta. Because of MCG’s role in my wife’s education, she has taught nursing in this area for more than 35 years. We are both honored to be alumni of these local universities.
In 1969, when first enrolled at AC, the student parking lots were dirt – well, actually red clay. With each rain the campus became a mud pit. The classrooms were old and ugly arsenal warehouses. Now look at this beautiful facility today. In the past 43 years, I have watched proudly as this institution built its brand.
Now enter Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz, a person who is willing to prostitute this area for his own gain. We are told Georgia Regents University is a name a brand can be built around (in about 20 years).
Who is kidding whom here? Augusta State University was building its brand by the hard work of faculty and administration, local and state officials, alumni and the student body when Dr. Azziz was in grammar school. You never hear a negative remark about ASU. Everyone, everywhere, when the name is mentioned knows from where you speak – unlike, say, Furman University. If you ask what GRU stands for, the best you can currently get is Get Ricardo Unemployed!
I would tell the governor, the Board of Regents, the mayor, commissioners etc., that Dr. Azziz has no standing in this town today and never will. He will never be trusted. He has been dishonest and manipulative toward this community in the short time he has graced us with his contemptuous attitude. He needs to be released so he can go to a cool place worthy of his ego, although I know of no place in this universe that gargantuan.
Finally, the state can threaten the city with the withholding of tax dollars. That is how shallow leaders support their trade. But Gov. Nathan Deal should know that we might not be cool, but we are nobody’s fools – and elections occur with steady frequency. Going forward, the citizens of this community will ask every candidate vying for political office – whether mayor, governor or dog catcher – what is his or her position on the name Georgia Regents University. Eventually – maybe soon, maybe not – the travesty will be corrected, because the electorate will never forget.
Barry F. Cook