Suffocating

Air of intimidation falls over Augusta's universities

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The only thing worse than the proposed name for Augusta’s new university is the way it was named – and the style of “leadership” that’s been used to force it on this community.

That leadership style – a black cloud of fear and intimidation – has descended on both institutions set to be consolidated: Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University.

It’s bad enough that the mega-clunker “Georgia Regents University” was chosen as the name for the consolidated university by President Ricardo Azziz and the Georgia Board of Regents.

It’s worse yet that neither Azziz nor the regents will budge an inch on the name – despite the fact that Augusta is in full rebellion against it.

Worse still is the fact that most close observers don’t believe Dr. Azziz a whit when he says he didn’t have anything to do with pushing the Georgia Regents name. Evidence to the contrary is flowing in.

But perhaps the saddest part of this complete disregard for the community is the arrogant, heavy-handed way it’s been carried out. There is such a climate of fear and intimidation in both universities right now that employees are deathly afraid of expressing their opinions for fear of being fired.

One senior official at one of the schools was so fearful of Dr. Azziz’s regime that this person took care to contact The Chronicle on a personal cell phone – rather than risk detection on a school phone.

That doesn’t even sound like America, much less Augusta.

All the more reason to admire those who have stood up against this process publicly, including many brave souls at a rally Monday at ASU.

A camera crew from Azziz’s administration was said to have recorded it all.

“People are definitely afraid of him,” one school employee told us Monday. “We shouldn’t be in fear of voicing our opinion.”

“You are correct; employees will be fired if they speak out,” an anonymous reader said in our Rants & Raves column Tuesday.

Even Augusta State student senators were warned in a pre-rally e-mail that the name change is a done deal and not to second-guess it publicly.

All these attempts at suppression and submission for a name that Dr. Azziz claims to not feel passionate about?

That prompts the question: Who does feel passionately about it? And do they feel more strongly than the Augusta community, which has railed against Georgia Regents University from the start? And why do their opinions count for so much more than this community’s?

It’s all very odd.

But, even as the Augusta community fights to get the name changed, this brouhaha has revealed a larger problem: a regime that seems incapable of admitting a mistake; is unwilling to listen to anyone; is disingenuous at best in admitting its role in things; and is willing to rule through fear and intimidation.

Even if the consolidated university’s name and leader remain, the administration has lost the trust, confidence, respect and support of a hefty swath of this community – most importantly the faculty, students, alumni and donors.

A leader simply must have the good will and support of the people and community he serves.

Perhaps Dr. Azziz feels he does not need Augusta; conventional wisdom says the relative newcomer was always going to be a short-timer here anyway. But the ill will and rock-bottom morale he will have left will be a devastating legacy indeed. The lives and careers of some very dear people who care deeply about these schools, as well as the fierce loyalty of their alumni, are being stepped on with the most callous disregard you can imagine.

Why not make the new U’s mascot the “Cavaliers”? That’s the manner in which people here are being treated, after all.

Comments (15) Add comment
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specsta
6265
Points
specsta 08/22/12 - 02:04 am
3
15
A Leader Is Not In A Popularity Contest

The Chronicle wrote: "A leader simply must have the good will and support of the people and community he serves."

Ummm...that's a puppet, not a leader. A puppet makes decisions based on popularity - a leader makes tough decisions based on wisdom - decisions that bring progress, even when that decision runs contrary to the popular opinion poll.

Azziz has made it clear that he's nobody's puppet - not Billy Morris' puppet or the City-County Commission's puppet or any other old-geezer association that has controlled Augusta with an iron fist for decades.

Azziz has shaken up the establishment and they hate him for it. Well, so be it. Let the hate flow and let progress march forward.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/22/12 - 04:14 am
10
1
Just a preview of coming attractions...

If Tariq Azziz is employing these tactics for a name, what tactics is he and will he employ over more substantive merger issues?

Merging budgets, administrations and academic programs is going to be interesting to say the least.

@specsta... If no one is following, are you still a leader?

Riverman1
81419
Points
Riverman1 08/22/12 - 07:57 am
5
1
Cnoelg possibly represents

Cnoelg possibly represents Dr. Azziz's mindset. I've noticed signs of incomptence when Azziz gives talks. He says lots of non sequiturs and comes up with poor examples to make his points. He doesn't quite get everything such as the importance of the community and the love it generates toward its institutions. But that's not something easy to learn unless you've lived in one place for awhile. He hasn't.

Riverman1
81419
Points
Riverman1 08/22/12 - 07:59 am
7
1
Proud of Augusta and the CSRA

I wonder just how many people realize some of the wealthiest people in the country maintain part-time homes in the CSRA? If Augusta is good enough for the richest man in the world, it should be good enough for Dr. Azziz.

harley_52
22815
Points
harley_52 08/22/12 - 08:52 am
6
1
It's What I Said....

...the very first day when the new name was announced. The new name (GRU) was bad enough, but even worse was the dishonest, arrogant, condescending PROCESS by which it was chosen.

We would be fortunate if all we could say about Azziz and the Regents was that they were ignorant and tone deaf, but, sadly, the process has shown us we can say a lot more. A bunch of state employees spat in the faces of the very people who pay their salaries.

The citizens hold the power of the pen, the vote, and their pocketbooks. In the long run, they will prevail.

harley_52
22815
Points
harley_52 08/22/12 - 08:59 am
5
1
" It doesn't matter a whit.....

....whit the name of the university."

Apparently it does.

I mean, speaking of "tone deaf."

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/22/12 - 09:08 am
1
4
Comments initially were from

Comments initially were from emotional outrage and I was swept into it as well. Now that everyone is pointing the finger and blame on one person, granted he's abbrasive, I feel like the premise of the issue is no longer the name. People want results and are willing to accept a negative one to get satisfaction. Hating on Azizz will result in something. He will hate right back. The reality is, getting rid of Azizz isn't going to assure anything. They are going to call it GRU, at least for the moment. Now its a matter of whether they(bor) want to invest the dollars. Do the math. GRU + no money still equals GRU. I'll be satisfied when the hate ends and the productive communication resumes.

harley_52
22815
Points
harley_52 08/22/12 - 09:44 am
6
1
" Hating on Azizz....

....Hating on Azizz will result in something. He will hate right back."

I've noticed the meaning of yet another word has been corrupted by the left. "Hate."

In the minds of most people, "disagreement," even "profound and lasting disagreement," is not the same as "hate." Hate means something entirely different than disagreement, at least it used to.

Let's see now, those that come immediately to mind are....
- investment....now means tax and spend.
- gay...now means homosexual.
- pride...now means flaunting and parading homosexuality.
- hate....now means disagreement.
At some point, we're going to need some kind of translation guide.

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 08/22/12 - 09:43 am
6
1
Too much power in the hands
Unpublished

Too much power in the hands of one man. A dictatorship is never good.

harley_52
22815
Points
harley_52 08/22/12 - 09:48 am
6
0
The Governor....

...has all the power here. He could right the situation in one day, if he wanted to. Azziz and the Regents have only the power that he allows them to exercise and no more.

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 08/22/12 - 09:52 am
1
5
GRU will be leaving Augusta
Unpublished

GRU will be leaving Augusta in the future, thats 1 reason why Augusta was not included.

GRU/ASU/MCH/GSHU bring in soooooooooooooooo much to theis community, why o why are you guys tripping about a name? If they do leave Augusta, do you think the community will be worrying about a name vs. the local economy???

Pick your battles, everyone is not worth fighting.....hindsight.

itsanotherday1
41393
Points
itsanotherday1 08/22/12 - 02:11 pm
2
2
Harley

Don't forget "racist".

In today's vernacular, racist = anyone who is critical of a person of color.

Fiat_Lux
15002
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/22/12 - 02:17 pm
5
1
Stupid

stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.

It didn't have to come to this. Azziz has shot off his ownfoot for no reason at all. He simply does not "get" this area, and beyond that, he doesn't give a damn about it except as a notch on his gun. I doubt he would lose a wink of sleep if this institution turned into a pile of dust; he'll be shaking our dust off his feet whenever it is he goes.

rmwhitley
5536
Points
rmwhitley 08/22/12 - 04:25 pm
0
0
azziz is
Unpublished

not an Augustan and has NO plans to be an Augustan. After he soaks the well dry, he'll return to his native Mexico, I mean southern California and laugh his way to the bank every month. Your "leaders" from marion hatchetman barnes to a weak deke will leave you in the unenviable position of not only losing the name Augusta in YOUR university but will give up your Fort Gordon. Hide and watch if you think I'm just "full of it".

socks99
250
Points
socks99 08/22/12 - 07:56 pm
4
0
On several occasions, the

On several occasions, the Regent's have made decisions not in the public interest, but in the interest of narrow political constituencies. Now, frightened over the publicity about a divided and politicized Regents, they are all agreed to stand as one. So, Azziz has no choice but to close ranks!

First, they indulge themselves in politics; next, in order to convince the public they have not politicized the state's system of higher education, they make things worse by failing to including an overwhelming community consensus.

Perhaps the state's higher ed system is now in for a long-spell of tit-for-tat battles, and repercussions, as various geographic and political constituencies battle it out for dominance and the Lion's share of public funding? At the Regents, perhaps they will politicize the system when they think they can get away with it; and later scream they must be independent and above taking input from the peasants! Assuming the recent bubble in funding for higher education deflates, one would expect much more pressure to find purchase on the Regents. Clearly, they are not up to the challenge, and this means a possible collapse of confidence in the system as a whole.

Gage Creed
16455
Points
Gage Creed 08/22/12 - 09:11 pm
0
1
"GRU will be leaving Augusta

"GRU will be leaving Augusta in the future, thats 1 reason why Augusta was not included." If this is what you truly believe, then your argument to accept the drivel from Azziz has no validity....

harley_52
22815
Points
harley_52 08/22/12 - 10:17 pm
0
0
Don't forget "racist"....

....In today's vernacular, racist = anyone who is critical of a person of color.

Excellent point, itsanotherday1. It should be at the top of the list.

Jake
32161
Points
Jake 08/22/12 - 10:56 pm
0
0
"Get this area"

Quite contrary, Fiat, I think Dr Azziz does "get" this area. That is why he is doing what ever it takes to get his programs initiated.

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