According to Webster, a university is an institution of higher learning charged with teaching, research and service across a broad spectrum of the arts and sciences. The identity of an enterprise of such scope and worth should be reflected in its name and its charter. The name should reflect the origin of its funding, the nature of its undertakings and its location.
We have two venerable institutions of higher learning – Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University – both with noble histories, with names that clearly identify their origins, purposes and locations. Now in great wisdom, those two institutions are about to be merged. Seemingly, the wisdom of such a merger is fiscal and hopefully expansive – both honorable intentions. But in so doing, is it necessary to destroy the history of either? Should not the name preserve at least a portion of that history?
IN THE DAYS of President Hoover, my mother was hospitalized. A nanny was hired to care for four children, one a preschooler. The nanny thought the children were too young to eat solid food, so she pureed all the vegetables. One noon it was garden peas. The “skins” were left in the colander, and my sister, the preschooler, was found by the nanny eating the skins.
The nanny said: “No! No!” My little sister said: “It’s our kitchen, isn’t it?”
Both universities belong to us. We bought and paid for them with our taxes, tuition and fees. Men and women of talent, experience and a sense of history and ownership were chosen by the governor to fund, protect and guide our institutions into an increasingly competitive environment – only to be become victims of a shell game by GHSU President Ricardo Azziz, an imported shill, for whom the truth seems to be a foreign language.
IT REALLY IS our “kitchen!” We would rather get a new nanny than to lose it! Augusta is better located in the mind of the world than the place our nanny came from. It gained international recognition for its spring and its golf. From the days of famed sportswriter Grantland Rice, Augusta has been the destination of thousands from every part of the globe.
Augusta’s universities have sent thousands worldwide as an educated, skilled, productive labor and management force. Augusta is the origin of many, and the destination of many more. The enterprises and products of its home bases should carry the name proudly.
Augusta State University is one of several proper names for the merger of our noble “kitchen.” The schools within our university can self-identify, as has the School of Medicine.
What could have been a happy marriage has become a Spanish Inquisition with every attempt to either hide or rewite recent history.
Nannies should not build a name for themselves by destroying names with a noble history.
(The writer is a Medical College of Georgia emeritus vice president of academic affairs.)