The two best of the six suggested names are “Augusta University” and “University of Augusta” – and the other four are just clunkers, sad to say: Arsenal University, Augusta Arsenal University, Bartram University and Noble University.
One understands that the naming of a school is an opportunity to honor someone or something. The committee – whose suggestions will be whittled down to three by a task force and sent on to the state Board of Regents for a final decision – tried to do just that.
The name “Arsenal” is an attempt to pay homage to the history of Augusta State University – which is being consolidated with Georgia Health Sciences University. The ASU grounds were home to the U.S. Arsenal in the 1800s.
Likewise, “Bartram” is intended to honor the famous naturalist William Bartram, who left an enduring trail through Georgia, and “Noble” is a nod to Noble Jones, an area Colonial and Revolutionary War figure.
Such a well-intended sentiment may be perfect for the naming of an elementary, middle or high school – or for a university that has a chief founder or benefactor. But in this case, the name should have higher aspirations than that. The name has to visualize a larger footprint and a less narrow focus than those four names evoke.
As we have noted before, the name “Augusta” – thanks to a certain well-known annual golf tournament here – has a global brand and international name recognition. Why throw that away?
Our own preference between the two “Augusta” names would be the University of Augusta. It just has more elegance and bespeaks the kind of erudition the combined university will seek. (Some also have suggested nicknaming it ‘The’ Augusta University in any case, à la The Ohio State University, where ‘the’ is part of the official name and proud alumni like to emphasize the ‘the.’)
As the committee has said, the 1,200 or so proposed names put forth by the public fell into three categories: geographical, aspirational and proper names. Oddly enough, using the name “Augusta” may appear to fall under the geographical category – but in truth it reaches deeply into the aspirational as well. As home to the most prestigious golf tournament in the nation, and perhaps the world, Augusta’s name conjures notions of excellence, mastery, striving and more.
We know that Dr. Ricardo Azziz, president of GHSU and soon to be head of the combined university, wants great things and increased international reach for the new institution.
We hope the coming deliberations reflect all that, and that in the end the Board of Regents takes full advantage of what we already have here – which is a name that already has international appeal.
Whatever the name, for those of us here at home it will likely always be The Augusta University.