Not a done deal

Community must keep fighting university's abhorrent renaming

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In the immortal words of John Belushi, nothing is over until we decide it is.

If everyone who abhors the clunker “Georgia Regents University” name that was foisted on this community last week would stand up and speak up, there’s no way the senseless, offensive decision could stand.

That goes double for this
area’s leaders, public and private. Have the gumption to stand your ground on this. Mayor Deke Copenhaver, our state lawmakers, business leaders, civic leaders and anyone else with a title with any amount of pull – do your jobs and do your community a favor: grow a spine.

Dedicate yourselves to overturning this decision.

Don’t just do it for community pride; do it for basic personal pride. You have been slapped in the face – not just by the Georgia Board of Regents’ ugly, meaningless name for the merger of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University, but also in the way the decision was reached.

It now seems clear that not only was this community and its desires completely ignored in this naming process, but that – outrageously – state leaders went miles out of their way to do it. Perhaps literally.

Consider:

• Ricardo Azziz, president of Georgia Health Sciences University, commissioned a $45,500 national and state survey of the public and of academic types to test the popularity of the final few names under consideration. Guess what: “Georgia Regents University” polled about as well as a dead skunk on the highway. In contrast, “The University of Augusta” was the No. 1 choice in every category of respondent – of ordinary citizens nationally and statewide, and of faculty members around the country.

• That little tidbit of information – that “University of Augusta” was the preferred name nationally – had to be dragged out of GHSU with an Open Records request. Why? Why wasn’t it trumpeted publicly by Dr. Azziz and his staff?

The answer seems clear enough: What this community wanted and what the national and state polls clearly preferred was not what Dr. Azziz wanted.

• Fact is, evidence continues to mount that not only was this name Dr. Azziz’s desire, but that his office may have lobbied hard for it. Our information, as well as information gleaned by other media here, indicates an unmistakable flurry of contact between Azziz’s office and Georgia Board of Regents members in the days and weeks preceding their decision to name the new university Georgia Regents.

If true, then the months-long process by which Augustans were asked for their ideas and input, and committees pored over 1,200 names, was, in the end, manipulated – if it wasn’t a sham from the beginning.

How many insults will Augusta-area leaders drink down before speaking up?

Well, your constituents have had their fill. They’ve been signing Facebook petitions, calling or writing state leaders and agreeing with other online protests and news stories and editorials on the matter.

There are two forums this Thursday where university officials are going to try to explain themselves: at noon at ASU’s Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre and 3 p.m. at GHSU’s Lee Auditorium. Be there.

There is a protest/pep rally next Monday at noon at the Augusta State University outdoor amphitheater in the center of campus. Be there.

We also suggest you call and/or write Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and your state legislators.

Everything we are hearing indicates that wide swaths of employees at both schools also vehemently oppose the name Georgia Regents University, but that there is a heavy shroud of fear and silence on both campuses, with employees deathly afraid of speaking out for fear of reprisals. How sad.

We call on Dr. Azziz to make it clear that no one will be retaliated against for speaking his or her mind.

And we call on the entire community to keep doing it.

Only louder.

Comments (30) Add comment
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Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 08/14/12 - 04:39 am
7
2
United we stand

United we stand. We can do it.

seenitB4
87304
Points
seenitB4 08/14/12 - 06:41 am
7
1
This time we agree staff

do your jobs and do your community a favor: grow a spine.

Yeh...you need to grow one...

The name stinks...it sounds like a paper mill ....smells

harley_52
23424
Points
harley_52 08/14/12 - 06:54 am
8
1
The New Name....

....is bad enough, but the process by which it was decided is a bigger insult to all concerned. Thinking they were participating in the process, taxpayers and employees were tricked, bamboozled, and manipulated by an arrogant group of state employees who ignored their input. The Governor should invalidate the new name, fire Azziz and the Regents, and begin the process anew.

augustadog
88
Points
augustadog 08/14/12 - 07:53 am
6
1
Who is going to hold Azziz

Who is going to hold Azziz accountable for the thousands spent on national research that came back with the conclusion to name it "University of Augusta."?
This whole farse gets worse each day.
Deke, come out of hiding and support those who put you in office.
It used to be that MCG Presidents were Augustans. Maybe we need to go back to that. This guy Azziz needs to go back to La La Land!

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/14/12 - 08:09 am
8
0
A One Time Thing? Doubtful

If Ricardo "Tariq" Azziz wastes this kind of money on a "study" for a name, threatens reprisal for any dissent, lies to the community and makes this dumb of a decision about a name change, is that a one time thing or is that how he is with all of his decisions?

whatmistake
100
Points
whatmistake 08/14/12 - 08:23 am
6
0
The only way Copenhaver grows

The only way Copenhaver grows a spine and gets involved is if his handlers decide it's to their advantage that he do so. He's survived quite nicely to this point by simply dropping out of sight the minute controversey arises and staying there until the matter blows over. Or until it's time for the ribbon cutting.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 08/14/12 - 08:36 am
4
11
On the bright side, this

On the bright side, this topic has limited the AC to running only 2 anti Obama/Democrat editorials and letters since last Thursday. I did enjoy the hypocrisy of the one blaming the Democrats for mud slinging. As soon as Namegate dies down, I'm sure the AC will once again show us what mud slinging is all about.

gcap
290
Points
gcap 08/14/12 - 08:37 am
4
1
Too much of one thing...

...not enough of another. Dr. Azziz is obviously a brilliant man, what with all his education and medical knowledge. So how much smarter is he than the rest of us? He assumed too much power in the name selection. And he did not understand the emotions of locals. That Dr. Azziz is smart is clear. But think about it. His mightier-than-thou attitude and his apparent confidence in thinking that government knows best will get him in trouble around here. He's spent millions and millions during his short time here, buying nothing but controversy. He came from California where state finances are in the debtosphere. Spending our money like that, I'm afraid, ain't so smart.

gaptomom
143
Points
gaptomom 08/14/12 - 08:43 am
5
0
How many other lies

How many other lies have been forced down the throat of this community to bring Azziz's vision (certainly not the community's vision) to fruition. If he will lie about this...what else will he manipulate to his advantage? Is this the type of leader and representative of our "uncool" Augusta going out in the world? Perhaps he and the BOR should have used some GRU (Russian intelliegence) to find another locale for him to practice his dominating method of running a school. Since he seems to think it trivial to pay money for things which are not going to be taken seriously...let's take that $45K fee for this sham of a survey out of his salary. At that salary range, he won't miss it. If there is any consolation in this it's that one of his kids is going to have GRU instead of ASU on her diploma.

allhans
23668
Points
allhans 08/14/12 - 08:43 am
4
0
Where does Gov. Deal stand on

Where does Gov. Deal stand on this. Does anyone know?
In other words, who is looking out for us?

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 08/14/12 - 09:23 am
0
0
Recend his contract, fire the bast___d
Unpublished

Withhold all student tuition. Grab Azzizie by the purse strings. Money talks. Lawsuits in ARC against public entities usually win. Where are the days of the "college sit ins". Campus protest will work. In the street and in your face for justice works. A one day "drop out" by all students would get some national TV attention. A week of protest would get major attention. The court of public opinion can deliver us from Azzizie.

OnTheHill1
345
Points
OnTheHill1 08/14/12 - 04:10 pm
5
1
The Community is Getting It; the new U name is the symptom

The community is getting it; the new U name is the symptom, the way it was selected is the problem. GRU will eventually grow on everybody, but what will not change as long as Azziz is still at the helm is the egregious process by which this sham unfolded, so well stated in the editorial and posts:

* Wasting Valuable Resources - Azziz spends money like it grows on trees, on the $45.5K study (who knows how much more was spent that has been buried), on consultants, on entertaining at his house (I wonder if his family ever has any grocery bills), on junkets, etc. His purchasing habits need to be audited.

* Reliance on Secrecy and Deception - Despite ample evidence to the contrary, Azziz denies that any subterfuge was employed in the name selection. How many other times have conclusions and decisions been reached, having been lobbied prior to, in the smoke filled rooms? No future decision can be trusted as legitimate, affecting faculty, students, employees or the community.

* Creating a Culture of Fear - The over 11,000 MCG/ASU employees have been threatened with termination if they "Like" a Facebook page or respond in any way negative to the GRU name.

* Lack of Integrity - MCG/ASU/New U need representation by inspired, forward thinking, non-biased, open, honest leadership. Aziz doesn't measure up, never will, he's an old dog, not going to learn new tricks.

The new U, whatever its name, is forever tainted and spoiled by a process that was rife with dishonesty. If necessary let the name stand, but demand the problem leave - Azziz.

Jake
32570
Points
Jake 08/14/12 - 10:32 am
4
1
Names

There was nothing wrong with the names Clarks Hill, Augusta College, Medical College of Georgia or even Gwinette Street so why were they changed to begin with?

dherman
14
Points
dherman 08/14/12 - 11:09 am
2
0
ASU Thursday 3pm I'll Be There

I Googled GRU and got the following on first page: Glavnoye Razvedyvetel Upvavleniye (a massive Russian Intelligence Agency); IMBd site about 2010 movie "Despicable Me" with a character named Gru who says "I know I know and it is the worst mistake I ever made."; Gainesville Regional Utilities; and Grass Roots Ultimate High School. GRU is simply an embarrassment to the citizens of the state of Georgia and Augusta.

Fiat_Lux
15429
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/14/12 - 11:52 am
7
0
On employees speaking out...

There is no way that any GHSU/ASU employee can be or even feel safe in speaking out publicly, in being identified publicly as dissenting, much less actively rejecting this name.

Who is going to hold Azziz accountable when he demands peoples' jobs for speaking out? No one, because he holds all the cards. He can make supervisors terminate people left, right and sideways for any number of reasons that don't appear to have anything to do with his wrath. Any flaw, any grudge, any oversight or minor failing can be used to hand an MCG or ASU employee a pink slip, or for no reason at all. They don't even have to have a reason, legitimate or otherwise, to let us go.

We all work at the pleasure of our institutions. And everybody knows in this instance who ultimately will decide if our institutions are pleased to have us there.

dherman
14
Points
dherman 08/14/12 - 11:55 am
1
0
Important GRU Gatherings - Be There !

Thursday 8/16/2012

ASU 12 Noon
GHSU 3 pm

daphne3520
950
Points
daphne3520 08/14/12 - 12:47 pm
0
0
Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/14/12 - 12:47 pm
2
0
@ OnTheHill1

Your comment is spot on and does a great job of summing the issue up and putting it in perspective.

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 08/14/12 - 02:53 pm
4
0
Pants on fire

I'm still trying to figure out how in h-e-double hockey sticks this guy didn't know that Florida International was a U.S. institution in Miami... being in his position, career field and education, he should know this...

Meh... he's probably just lying again! Azziz should try politics...

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/14/12 - 04:26 pm
2
0
He knew Fla Inter was in the US and not offshore.

That was a stretch imo. It's good for storytime but i believe lack of awareness was more of an issue than the name being too foreign sounding.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 08/14/12 - 05:20 pm
2
1
Fla International Plays Bigtime Football

FIU is pretty well known. They play the big boys in football. Yeah, that story was a stretch, David.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 08/14/12 - 05:25 pm
2
1
And you know what...

And you know what. That's the kind of thing about Azziz that makes you wonder. David and I both know his story about FIU is tremendously flawed. It's kind of like when you get around someone who tells tales or says off the wall things and you just kind of smile and move on. Azziz doesn't quite get some things and makes up tales in defense.

KSL
129900
Points
KSL 08/14/12 - 05:34 pm
1
2
With all due respect to the 3

With all due respect to the 3 wonderful OB/GYN (male) and the horrible 1 female one (no disrespect intended. She was the oldest of the 4) he is an OB/GYN with some rather strange art depictions.

KSL
129900
Points
KSL 08/14/12 - 06:39 pm
2
3
And his lack of knowledge

And his lack of knowledge about America is as atrociocious as Obama's.

KSL
129900
Points
KSL 08/14/12 - 05:56 pm
2
2
The idea of renaming

The idea of renaming something after a person when it has already had a longtime name is totally ridiculous.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 08/14/12 - 06:11 pm
0
3
I really don't see how this

I really don't see how this is an issue. Will a better or different name make the academics any stronger or weaker? No.
Also, how is the proposed name "offensive"?

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 08/14/12 - 06:15 pm
3
0
I'm still trying to figure

I'm still trying to figure out how in h-e-double hockey sticks this guy didn't know that Florida International was a U.S. institution in Miami... being in his position, career field and education, he should know this...

Florida International sounds like the name of an airport to me. Before you jump on me, I don't watch or keep up with any football.

You have to remember this is the same guy that when he was at Cedars-Sinai that he did not know who the celebrities were and his "staff" had to tell him. He also said it was probably a good thing since he was not intimidated by them like his staff *gags*

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 08/14/12 - 08:32 pm
1
0
more phone calls
Unpublished

Make more phone calls to the Regents and more phone calls to the governor and your representatives. Call the people with power to change this god awful name and insult to Augusta.

harley_52
23424
Points
harley_52 08/14/12 - 08:50 pm
1
0
How Much Taxpayer Money...

....has been wasted on "refurbishing" the conference rooms at MCG/GHSU/GRU to Taj Mahal standards for the great an powerful Dr. Azziz? This guy must be the man the song "Hey Big Spender" was written about.

Pity he's not spending his own money, he's spending yours.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 08/14/12 - 09:22 pm
0
2
All of this energy being put

All of this energy being put into what to call something rather than how to make something better. It is sad really.

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