University name falls flat

I come to Augusta to shop with some frequency, and over the years have met numerous alumni of Augusta College and Augusta State University. I followed the saga of the merger of this fine school with the Medical College of Georgia, another equally fine institution and one whose alumni are proud of graduating there. Both are unique and show the pride within each institution.

Twice each spring I come to Augusta to officiate a collegiate disc golf event for what is now Georgia Regents University. I was there recently. When a spectator or fan followed the line-up of the participating schools, names that had proud traditions stood out – Clemson, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia Tech, Houston, Purdue, Illinois and others. It was immediately clear what the school was.

Then there is the new and, I supposed, improved GRU with its new drab colors. When the schools were announced on the first tee, the host school’s name had a sad ring to it. No one knew what a GRU was.

One could make many arguments and have considerable discussion as to the importance of a school’s name, but let’s be realistic. You are attracting 17- and 18-year-old kids to come to your school. The name matters. You had a unique emblem with the “A.” Now all your heritage is swept under the rug.

Do you think a doctor or other medical professional is excited about a diploma that no longer has the history of an institution such as the Medical College of Georgia? That tells me this is a medical school.

I have no dog in this hunt, as I attended the University of Missouri and one immediately can relate to that name. Augustans have an uphill climb on recognition that I doubt will be established in my lifetime. Sadly, the new name sounds more like some online institution than real brick-and-mortar. Good luck as well with alumni support.

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