A show of strength

Merger of two Augusta universities would signal huge growth

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Imagine if the state had suddenly decided to create a new university in Augusta the size of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University combined.


Well, guess what: It’s about to.

Look very closely and you might be able to see a downside or two to the proposed merger of the two institutions, expected to be approved Tuesday by the state Board of Regents. We sure don’t see many of them.

In contrast, the big picture is nothing but exciting.

The combined entity will have more political firepower – and friends – in Atlanta, will offer students more diverse and coordinated offerings, will cut down on duplication and, most exciting, will almost overnight create a new research university on the banks of the Savannah that, down the road, can compete for preeminence in the region.

Alone, each university will no doubt inch up in size over the years. Together, the growth potential is limited only by our imagination and the number of building contractors within earshot.

“The positives are enormous,” said one prominent official familiar with the proposal.

“It absolutely strengthens both schools,” another told us.

Augusta shouldn’t just support the merger; we should do so with verve. And, in fact, we already have – through our various political and business leaders who have been studying the issue for some time and whose thumbs-up has given the state the confidence to move on it.

An invigorated and combined ASU and GHSU will increase and smoothen the career pathways for ASU students – likely luring many over from the Atlanta region – and should help GHSU grow its ability to translate research into commercial, life-enhancing products and services, as well as to train more health-care professionals. That’s not a small matter, considering the growing and aging nature of the Georgia population.

Consider, too, the difference between what the state is asking of us and what it’s asking of others around the state: Several other institutions of higher learning are being eyed for consolidation too – but primarily for efficiency’s sake. In Augusta’s case, there will be some savings, particularly in administration, and in the duplicative nursing programs. But mostly, the merger of ASU and GHSU will mean growth – big growth.

In the economy we’ve suffered through the past few years, that sounds pretty good. But economies ebb and flow. The growth and vitality that will be born of this merger will long be with us.

From a political standpoint, consider the added weight a combined institution will have in the halls of power – and how state officials might regard our willingness and even enthusiasm for being team players and jumping at the chance to be the first in the state to create this template.

“They won’t forget,” one local supporter says of state leaders.

We certainly won’t be the first to do this nationally, and that’s an added comfort. Indeed, the majority of the nation’s 136 accredited medical schools are affiliated with undergraduate universities.

“The great strength of a clinical enterprise embedded in a great university is one of the most powerful tools in our country,” says Lloyd Jacobs, president of a combined University of Toledo and Medical University of Ohio.

The Chronicle’s Tracey McManus reports that after the 2006 merger in Toledo, “enrollment at the University of Toledo increased for nine consecutive semesters, and the university created coursework for students after departments became partners, such as collaborations with the College of Engineering and the College of Medicine.”

The best part of the proposed merger, though, may be that it’s coming out of inspiration, not desperation. These schools would be fine apart. Together, they’ll be dynamic.

Last time we checked, that’s a good thing.

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scoopdedoop64
2737
Points
scoopdedoop64 01/08/12 - 12:20 am
0
0
Anytime you can only see all

Anytime you can only see all the good in something then you are not looking hard enough or you have already made up your mind. There are positives and negatives in everything. But to read this article you would think that God, Himself, had blessed this union on high. I am not saying that it can't be a good thing or shouldn't be done. What I am saying is that a good opinion piece or article should at least acknowledge some of the challenges such a merger will bring. Also, bigger is not always better. Just look at our government if you think so or consider how many times has a company you know merged with another only find customer service or quality goes down and even bankrupts the company. Since this appears to be a done deal all we can hope for is the best. Let's hope that all the promises will come true. But I always remember what my dad used to say, "all that glitters is not gold".

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/08/12 - 01:01 am
0
0
It's amazing how quickly this

It's amazing how quickly this is happening with little - if any - public scrutiny.

Good, bad or otherwise, this whole merger appears a done deal.

It just seems troubling that "everyone" claims this is a great move, yet it has been cloaked in secrecy and there is push to approve it before anyone can question it.

desertcat6
1140
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desertcat6 01/08/12 - 01:40 am
0
0
Only thing missing in the

Only thing missing in the sales pitch is a college football team - Augusta Mega-University Canals.

Riverman1
110817
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Riverman1 01/08/12 - 06:07 am
0
0
The merger is simply a once

The merger is simply a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a great university with a medical school that rivals any. Apparently the GGHOF property will also be given to GHSU which now means ASU. The campuses will hopscotch all over the city as one. It will change the face of Augusta so much for the better. Dr. Azziz is in the right place at the right time to be the person who leads this fantasic development. Yep, let's all get behind the project with "verve" (ha).

scgator
1042
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scgator 01/08/12 - 09:19 am
0
0
maybe.................

maybe.................

FalseHopeLooseChange
5
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FalseHopeLooseChange 01/08/12 - 10:42 am
0
0
"No one likes change except

"No one likes change except babies in diapers".....

whatmistake
100
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whatmistake 01/08/12 - 11:33 am
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0
If this is such a great idea,

If this is such a great idea, and it may well be, why does it not make equal sense to merge Armstrong Atlantic and Savannah State? Perhaps the politicians and bureacrats lack the will to take on the constituency of an HBCU that, on its own, has hardly distinguished itself as an educational destination point.

JRC2024
13599
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JRC2024 01/08/12 - 11:47 am
0
0
verve=enthusiasm and I like

verve=enthusiasm and I like the idea and any idea that betters my surrounding area. Get it own. With the merger comes more people, more money, more housing purchases and so on. Can't be bad.

Riverman1
110817
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Riverman1 01/08/12 - 12:41 pm
0
0
I wish my friend, Agrit, were

I wish my friend, Agrit, were more positive about the merger. She knows this thing inside out. My only worry is that many of the employees won't like the change, plus some may have to alter their jobs until things settle down. I can understand that part is going to be difficult.

fatboyhog
2808
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fatboyhog 01/08/12 - 03:25 pm
0
0
And in the end, the students

And in the end, the students that pay out of pocket will be getting the shaft, as usual. I wonder how soon after the merger will the tuition and fees go up.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/08/12 - 03:42 pm
0
0
Anyone who thinks this is a

Anyone who thinks this is a good idea has no clue what ASU or what ASU does.

Certainly, it "sounds" like a good idea, but too bad no one is listening to common sense or the facts.

socks99
250
Points
socks99 01/09/12 - 08:22 pm
0
0
I appreciate this editorial's

I appreciate this editorial's penchant for honestly discussing the 'local' politics of state funded education institutions: They are seen as nice growth engines that pump-up the local economy and, now, perhaps, can finally make Augusta 'cool.'

Somewhere lost in the discussion -- perhaps 'verve' means 'blind hope' -- remains the fact that consolidation is meant to be a cost-saving measure. As such, one wonders about the growth potential when the Regent's say up front it's to save money. And where, by chance, will the capital come from that has been promised to 'grow' the newly combined institutions?

Finally, while all politics is indeed 'local,' one wonders who to believe at ACES: The fiscal conservatives arguing in favor of federal and state spending cuts; or the would-be conservatives arguing against cut-backs at the 'Augusta' post office; arguing in favor of a consolidated local state educational institution that -- if proponents are to be believed -- will spur MORE government spending;

Good luck! You might need it! (Maybe it's 'nerve,' not verve you mean?)

At least get the promises in writing ...

madgerman
236
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madgerman 01/08/12 - 10:28 pm
0
0
Question. Is University
Unpublished

Question. Is University hospital a teaching institution? I love all the flowery words that went into this package that really says nothing that the common person would understand. I especially like the use of the unknown people who absolutely stand behind something. Or they insinuation that if we are not team players then the halls of power in Atlanta (I assume that is what they meant) will look down on us with a critical eye. Oh lord we must take care of the stake holders at any cost. I just wonder where all this expansion will take place. Last I looked, the area around MCG/University was packed tighter than sardines in a can.

madgerman
236
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madgerman 01/08/12 - 10:31 pm
0
0
I forgot to add - Given our
Unpublished

I forgot to add - Given our desire to approve any SPLOST (as evidenced by previous support) for any reason, we will be team players.

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