A community scorned

Azziz, regents treat Augustans shabbily over new university name

  • Follow Editorials

Anyone who came to a forum Thursday not liking the new name for Augusta’s consolidated university probably left the event not caring much for the man many believe is behind it.

Many of the estimated 400 people at the noon forum at Augusta State University were vehemently opposed to the name “Georgia Regents University,” which the state Board of Regents recently approved for the coming merger of ASU and Georgia Health Sciences University.

And a few folks in the audience were publicly highly skeptical of GHSU President Ricardo Azziz’s repeated claims that he had little to do with the new name and merely showed the state board the pros and cons of each of three possible names.

Citizen David Steele, who said he learned a little about critical thinking at the then-Augusta College, told Azziz at the public microphone, “We’re not so naïve as to think that the Board of Regents made this decision. They made a decision to back you up.”

The Chronicle, as well, has been told by people in the know that Azziz’s claims of being hands off on the choice of names is simply untrue – and that Azziz’s office actively lobbied the state Board of Regents to approve “Georgia Regents University.”

Anger built slowly but surely at the ASU forum, with increasingly bolder statements by members of the audience that earned raucous applause. One woman recalled an anti-GRU discussion at the grocery store that even inspired the butcher to come out from behind the counter and join in.

“I don’t like this name,” she said. “Nobody I know likes this name.”

“We feel like we have been abused in this process,” said another.

One man who said he spent 40 years in branding and marketing chimed in, “GRU is a terrible name – as an expert.”

Indeed, the state’s own information indicated the name was wholly lacking in appeal, coming in way behind the name “University of Augusta” in nationwide and statewide surveys that Azziz himself commissioned.

The surveys were, as it turns out, a complete waste of $45,500 – particularly considering that we now know the Board of Regents members were never given the surveys’ results.

The collective angst and anger at the forum can be summarized thusly: 1) longtime Augustans and those with ties to the university feel they are being robbed of their heritage; 2) they feel the community is being abused and ignored; 3) they believe the name is unredeemingly awful; and 4) they believe the naming process, which pretended to value the community’s and the survey’s input, was a total sham.

They appear to be right on all counts.

Now the regents chairman and Dr. Azziz are telling us to just get over it. Clearly, the bulk of the 400 there Thursday aren’t, and won’t.

The vast gorge between Dr. Azziz and the community was most evident when he suggested people here wouldn’t be happy unless “Augusta” was in the name. At that point, the crowd no longer waited in line to speak, shouting at Azziz that his assertion is untrue, and that we’d like just about any other name than the one we got.

Steele urged Azziz to be a strong change agent who has the “grace to admit a mistake and rectify it.” Azziz instantly declined, saying flatly, “We did not make a mistake.”

He’s right and Augusta is wrong. It’s that simple.

To borrow a phrase from songwriter Don McLean, “They would not listen, they’re not listening still; perhaps they never will.”

Comments (28) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/17/12 - 12:23 am
4
0
Attention: SACS

Dear Dr. Elgart,

Please take note of Dr. Azziz and the way in which he runs this school. SACS has stressed the importance of good governance and its effects on academics. SACS has even taken to sanctioning schools and school systems (i.e. Clayton County) to force administrators to focus on serving students.

We, the citizens of Augusta, ask you to revoke ASU and MCG's accreditation pending a SACS investigation of Dr. Azziz's leadership.

Unfortunately, we need SACS to step in when our local leadership has decided to check out.

specsta
6592
Points
specsta 08/17/12 - 01:28 am
3
16
Seriously?

This is the main reason why Augusta will remain a third-rate city - an inability to focus on major things, and an insatiable need to be concerned with the trivial.

Georgia Regents University is the new name. Period. Get over it and move on with your lives.

Where are the newspaper editorials, angry letters, community forums and news stories about the plight of the homeless in this city? The crumbling infrastructure? The toxic waste dumped in the air and river? The flooding when it rains?

Instead, energy is diverted toward fighting a name change.

How about taking that same energy and use it for a cause that will actually help people, such as helping those around us who are suffering? I guess that's too boring and requires too much work.

And the march to mediocrity continues on...

Riverman1
86712
Points
Riverman1 08/17/12 - 05:00 am
5
0
Drove my chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

The whole matter does have an American Pie feel to it. Lost innocence with the betrayal.

I have a practical suggestion for Dr. Azziz, a way out, if you will. If you want to get out of this mess with absolutely no one looking bad, quietly have your people contact the legislative delegation and have THEM do it with your quiet approval. That way it's out of your hands and you can magnamiously say you will follow what the legislature has deemed the name and move on to build a great university under the ASU and GHSU names that unite the community.

darkstar
6
Points
darkstar 08/17/12 - 07:33 am
4
0
A new political platform

I would like our state representatives to start an investigation of the Board of Regents. This group wields too much power for a group of non-elected officials. If they can waste $45,500 on the pretext of a survey with the audacity not even to submit the results, I would suspect they warrant further investigation.
As an ASU graduate, I feel our university was taken from us and won't be supporting them again, ...at least until our elected officials can rectify this fiasco.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/17/12 - 07:49 am
5
0
@ Riverman

Tariq Azziz's out will come shortly when Regents University sues to get an injunction.

allhans
23992
Points
allhans 08/17/12 - 08:19 am
3
0
A few shorts weeks ago

A few shorts weeks ago residents were concerned that Azziz's intention was to move the school to Athens. He patted them on their heads, offered some crumbs, and they shut up.

Now, he refuses to name the school by" fixing" the location in Augusta - using Augusta would make it harder when the times comes to... -

I mentioned this some time ago and only one person agreed, but watch out folks.
This name thing is by design.

Riverman1
86712
Points
Riverman1 08/17/12 - 09:23 am
1
1
Allhans, I think you are

Allhans, I think you are partially right that the regents didn't want the med school at UGA to be called Augusta University's, but GHSU will never leave Augusta. It's too big with too much infrastructure and employees who won't get up and go. Of course the Athens school will gradually begin to siphon more funding away from Augusta. But the big school will always be here.

Fiat_Lux
15887
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/17/12 - 09:30 am
3
0
DadGumit!

Where the heck are our local representatives to the state legislature? Are they actually in hiding?

All I can say is that the ones who step up and support our community on this fiasco will look a lot better come election day than the ones who are nowhere to be seen or heard.

Now's the time, guys and gals, to get your faces out in front of the crowd. Y'all have a chance here to be real heroes to the people whom you represent if you will get informed and get involved. Your districts need you badly right now to step up and act. For once, eschew politics and back scratching for our sakes, and don't prove yourselves to be complete duds.

Fiat_Lux
15887
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/17/12 - 09:36 am
4
0
The guy is already sending out birth announcements

and making videos to shout the joyful news to the world.

Time is getting short to halt this outrage because Azziz et al are sinking really big bucks into getting this name set in stone as fast as possible.

$45K will look like pocket change compared to what's happening right now.

Phone lines need to be jamming and servers crashing right now as well, or somebody needs to be in front of the appropriate judge getting an injunction.

allhans
23992
Points
allhans 08/17/12 - 09:41 am
2
1
Riverman. You did see the

Riverman. You did see the new interstate plans all by-passing Augusta, didnt' you.
MCG is not too big....it might take a few years, but bit by bit, it COULd happen.
The largest facility of this kind located in Augusta with little access...

I am not saying I am right and that this will happen. I'm only saying that things are not always as they seem. This is much more than surface deep.

dherman
14
Points
dherman 08/17/12 - 10:02 am
5
0
Time & Cost to Establish "Value" of name of GRU -vs- UA

The Regents need to be made aware of the following ASAP: President Azziz says it will take 10 to 20 years to get the name value of GRU established. HE IS CORRECT BECAUSE THAT NAME HAS NO PERSONALITY OR DYNAMISM ! On the other hand, to establish value to the name "University of Augusta" will take less than three years and probably only 20% of the cost of branding new GRU. I had a career in marketing and branding for 40 years and strongly consider this to be realistic. ASU has a marketing department in place...let them do a crash study of the time and cost of branding and marketing GRU -vs- UA. Azziz said Georgia money is tight and he is correct. Therefore, to name the entity "University of Augusta" will save substantial money and enormous time so vital to the competitive world of academics. In their fiduciary responsibility, Regents should listen to this message.

Fiat_Lux
15887
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/17/12 - 11:50 am
3
0
They can joyfull announce a new $100 million building, but

here's the latest good news about employees' salaries and positions.

______________________________________
Dear Colleagues,

Recent media coverage has highlighted the fact that Georgia's economy is still struggling, and we are once again facing almost certain reductions in state funding.

Georgia's current budget was built based on projected revenue growth of five to six percent. Unfortunately, the latest projections at the State level suggest revenues for the year will be much less than that with additional spending pressures from programs such as Medicaid consuming a greater portion of these revenues.

Accordingly, the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget has asked state agencies to submit budget reduction plans to ensure that Georgia ends the year with a balanced budget as required by law.
In turn, we have been asked by the University System of Georgia Office of Fiscal Affairs to submit a plan to reduce our budget by three percent, and to prepare an additional plan for the possibility of a further two percent reduction this fiscal year.

Although our operations are already lean from five consecutive years of budget reductions, we are committed to doing everything within reason to prevent layoffs or furloughs. This will include eliminating some unfilled positions, and holding others open indefinitely.

[And again, no raises while the cost of everything skyrockets, with fewer people doing more and more and more. What a great place! I guess we'll just keep on with what we're doing until they start making us pay to work here. Oh wait: that's already happening! Duh.]

Our proposed spending reductions will be included in the proposal sent by the university system to the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget. The Governor's office will then make recommendations to the General Assembly in January.

We will keep you informed of significant developments throughout the process, and we will do everything possible to minimize operational impacts.

Thank you for your continued dedication.

Sincerely,
Gretchen B. Caughman, PhD
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Georgia Health Sciences University

bobbop
10
Points
bobbop 08/17/12 - 10:27 am
5
0
Georgia Regents University

Write Regent University in Virginia at admissions@regent.edu and offer to donate to their legal fund aimed at heading off the GRU name.

kiwiinamerica
950
Points
kiwiinamerica 08/17/12 - 11:02 am
0
1
Not an Augusta issue
Unpublished

Sorry to say this but this whole issue really has very little to do with Augusta and its likes and dislikes.

Sure a lot of Augustans work at GHSU but Richmond and Columbia counties do not provide the majority of the funding which keeps ASU and GHSU afloat. That is provided by the taxpayers of the entire state of Georgia. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

This is a state issue, not an issue for the mayor or the local commission. Furthermore, GHSU has branches in Augusta, Athens and Albany. You think someone studying medicine in Athens wants to graduate from the "University of Augusta"??

Get serious.

countyman
20575
Points
countyman 08/17/12 - 12:00 pm
0
4
MCG in Augusta is BIG

MCG in Augusta is BIG compared to the satellite campus in Athens... There's 140 medical students currently in Augusta compared to the 40 in Athens... Not to mention the medical commons building will sit adjacent to the new dental school...

GADOT made sure both I-14 and I-3 run through Augusta, GA...

I-14(Columbus, Macon, Augusta)

The portion of I-3 between Savannah & Augusta might happen, but I doubt it goes through the GA mountains onto Knoxville.. It'll probably have to go through Greenville or Clinton SC... I-20 by itself gives us better interstate access compared to Athens.. Macon has both I-75 & I-16, but the growth in/around Augusta is moving ahead faster... I haven't seen any future GADOT plans for a new interstate in Athens, and they have zero at the moment..

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/17/12 - 11:57 am
4
1
Yes specsta where is all of

Yes specsta where is all of it? Since you are the one so vehement, shouldn't you already know the answer? You are the one carrying the torch it appears. We mediocre folk only git off the porch swing ere now and then.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 08/17/12 - 12:30 pm
0
0
azziz, greenbaum and their ilk
Unpublished

thumb their noses at the "common folk" until they need financial support. Then you find them where they belong; on their knees!

countyman
20575
Points
countyman 08/17/12 - 12:39 pm
1
1
I meant to say there's 190

I meant to say there's 190 medical students in Augusta, and not the 140 figure...

galaxygrl
1246
Points
galaxygrl 08/17/12 - 01:44 pm
3
0
Azziz's Words

The following is a quote from Penn State College Alumni newsletter. It is being said by Azziz.
“Many alumni don’t like the word philanthropy. They think it applies to people ‘with money’,” Dr. Azziz. “But it’s actually about relationships and bringing people together. Whether you feel fortunate… and most physicians are… or not, as an alumni you are keenly aware of the value of the school and its faculty, and who better than you to introduce the school and its needs to the larger community of potential donors. There are those who give, and those who need to receive, and your role should include connecting the two.”
I wonderif he thought about the alumni at the two schools as he created his Regents University.

Edward1968
592
Points
Edward1968 08/17/12 - 01:57 pm
4
2
Poor Specsta!

He/she doesn't have a clue!

Riverman1
86712
Points
Riverman1 08/17/12 - 02:04 pm
3
0
I-3 was all set to come

I-3 was all set to come through Augusta from Savannah to Knoxville, via the North Georgia mountains thanks to Charlie Norwood. When Paul Broun was elected he said we didn't want the highway due to North GA interests. It's highly unlikely it will be built now, even from Augusta to Savannah. There's no evidence to suggest it will be. South Carolina has said they will not pay their share to build an interstate through farmland from Augusta to Greenville. Their funds are committed to a Myrtle Beach highway.

Riverman1
86712
Points
Riverman1 08/17/12 - 02:14 pm
6
1
Why We Need a Vociferous Mayor

The demise of I-3 that was brought up is a good example of things that happen to completely stiffle the growth of Augusta. Paul Broun squashed it with few local officials questioning the move. No one complained and Broun never felt the pressure. This was a major event that quietly occurred.

Now we have another sesmic event that Mayor Deke says make the best of. Seriously, does Deke not get the significance? Our legislative delegation? Is the power of Azziz with his control of hundreds of millions of dollars and six figure jobs that great?

Can we please have officials who represent us doing their jobs?

countyman
20575
Points
countyman 08/17/12 - 02:43 pm
1
3
Comparing the GHSU/ASU merger

Comparing the GHSU/ASU merger vs the construction of I-3 is an apples to oranges comparison... The people living in the Savannah area wanted the interstate too.

I-14 won't cut through any mountains, and it didn't have the scrutiny or cost of I-3...

If the interstates would have started construction before the Savannah River Pkwy(Augusta to Savannah) and Fall Line Freeway(Columbus to Augusta) both did.. The chance of I-3 becoming reality would have been much greater..

Riverman1
86712
Points
Riverman1 08/17/12 - 02:58 pm
2
1
Countyman, please try to understand

Countyman, please try to understand what I'm saying. We need local officials to do more to protect our interests in Augusta.

As far as I-3, it was SET. Paul Broun nixed it. The North Geogia interests are the reason. Augusta interests are not demonstrative enough.

countyman
20575
Points
countyman 08/17/12 - 03:24 pm
1
2
I-3 was never 'set', but

I-3 was never 'set', and nothing more than an proposal... The government never set aside any funding, because they had to found out the cost of cutting through the mountains...

Riverman1
86712
Points
Riverman1 08/17/12 - 03:40 pm
1
1
Back to the subject....again

Back to the subject....again we could just use the umbrella name of GRU and keep ASU and Medical College of Georgia...as I've been saying all along.

Riverman1
86712
Points
Riverman1 08/17/12 - 03:44 pm
2
1
There's not a lot of reading

There's not a lot of reading with guys around the car wash, but I-3 was taken off the list because Broun took us off the list that Charlie Norwood had gotten us on.

countyman
20575
Points
countyman 08/17/12 - 04:17 pm
1
2
What list? The proposal of

What list? The proposal of future interstates list? Five counties in Georgia opposed I-3 from the start(2004-2005), and Charlie Norwood died in the year 2007.. All of the candidates running (including Paul Broun) opposed I-3... The I-3 study went forward even with the opposition.. Paul Broun decided to instead propose the interstate go towards Clinton or Greenville.

spotted_assassin
67
Points
spotted_assassin 08/17/12 - 05:46 pm
1
0
I Just Don't Get It!

The Board of Regents is similar to a Board of Directors, correct? If that's the case, you would NEVER hear of a Georgia DIRECTORS University! That is asinine! I'm a SC resident, and I didn't go to ASU...but I feel you guys' disgust over this matter. People that claim that the name doesn't matter obviously never went to college. If so, they would know that the education IS important, but so it THAT NAME! Don't believe me, ask the crowd that will be in town on Oct 05, for the Border Bash!

specsta
6592
Points
specsta 08/18/12 - 12:44 am
0
3
Change

When an individual is immersed in a particular environment, that person begins to believe that their environment is the only one in existence. Simply put, they don't know any better. If you grew up in a cave, and that's all you knew, it would seem rather far-fetched to you that there are other people living in houses, skyscrapers, or even on boats.

Such is the case with the typical Augustan. They think that the nonsense, the mediocrity, the lack of progress that goes on in this city is normal. IT ISN'T. Something is clearly wrong here.

Have Augustans ever considered why the city doesn't even appear on some maps? This city doesn't even show up on our own local weather maps sometimes. Don't Augustans wonder why very few folks, apart from avid golfers, have never even heard of Augusta, GA?

Something is amiss here.

A city should make bold steps toward progress and making life better for its citizens. Augusta does the opposite, regressing from where the city was even from the days of the Ed McIntyre vision of Riverwalk. Instead, the city gets a few discount big box stores, a couple of blue-collar labor manufacturing plants - and folks think that we are all that and a bag of chips.

Augustans think it is normal to have major entertainment acts bypass the city. They think it is normal to have decaying houses litter the city and create blight. They think it is normal to have flooded streets when it rains. They think it is normal to have the same city skyline for decades. They think it is normal to have restaurants remain in business despite serving lousy food. They think it is normal to have a single newspaper that dictates a myopic vision of the city.

I have something to tell you - IT IS NOT NORMAL! It is abnormal, and indicative of the mindset that chokes this city.

It is only a natural train of thought for Augustans to demand, threaten, protest and get angry about a name change for a school merger. They want "Augusta" in the name. Why? So that the tendrils of mediocrity will affix itself to a progressive plan being put in place by some forward-thinking folks like Azziz?

I say, we need more visionaries like Azziz, people who didn't grow up in this tripe, to help realign Augusta on a path to greatness.

If Augusta does not make an about-face, and embrace some progressive ideas, 20 years from now, the skyline will still look the same. And the streets will still flood, and dilapidated houses and building will continue to decay under the southern sun.

Back to Top

Top headlines

ARC to honor 1956 championship team

Because the championship year of 1956 has never lost its glory in Richmond Academy football lore, the team will be honored Thursday at the third annual ARC Hall of Fame banquet, where 10 alumni ...
Search Augusta jobs