When they name the newly combined university here, officials need to be careful not to do two things: put too much into the name, or keep the one essential thing out.
The temptation to put too much in could be great indeed: The new university will combine Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University – whose name
already has been expanded from the former Medical College of Georgia.
But truly great institutions don’t need long names. Sometimes, brevity can even communicate greatness. Harvard. Yale. Princeton.
That phenomenon is evident when people talk about the Masters Tournament, or the course it’s played on: They talk about “playing Augusta.”
Brevity may not be a problem in this case: Committees working on a new name have been told to keep it to three words, with “university” being one of them.
The next pitfall, then, is to avoid leaving out the essential second word: Augusta.
Some worry that including the city’s name will limit the scope and reputation of the school.
Really? Has that been much of a problem down at the Augusta National Golf Club?
Of course not. In fact, as noted above, the name is even shortened in common parlance to “Augusta.” Yet, its recognition and reputation have spread across the globe – giving the city a good name in every civilized country of the world.
Names don’t create excellence; excellence creates names. And Augusta has a pretty good one.
“University of Augusta” is student government President Ethan Holliman’s working favorite so far, as a member of a 10-person branding team tasked with whittling proposed names down to six by June 1. A state Consolidation Action Team will reduce the choices to three, and the state Board of Regents will choose the name by October.
There already are plenty of universities with “Georgia” in the name. There’s only one Augusta. It has given birth, and support, to these two fine institutions for decades. This community feels great pride in both, and has much invested in their growth and success. One would hope that this community’s early and eager support for the consolidation of the two schools will stand us in good stead at the Regents.
And if the Regents want a name that transcends borders and connotes a far-flung nature, few names do that as well as the simple name of “Augusta” – while also making it unambiguous where it’s located.
“The names University of Augusta, Augusta State University or Augusta International University can be a calling card,” wrote local attorney and Augusta graduate John C. Bell Jr., in a column on these pages this past Sunday. “The prominent use of ‘Augusta’ in the name would promote rather than diminish the potential national and international impact and prestige of our university. The University of Chicago is a far more prestigious institution than the University of Illinois. The prestige of Amherst, Williams, Davidson, Wake Forest, Cambridge and Oxford is not impaired by the diminutive size of the towns for which they were named.”
We should think as much of the word “Augusta” as the rest of the world does.