A positive force for change

Georgia should embrace, harness, energy behind 'Save the A'

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You’ve never seen a campaign season like this.

And we’re not even talking about the political one!

Augusta’s mushrooming “Save the A” campaign – to put “Augusta” back in the name of our soon-to-be consolidated university – is popping up all over town, as well as the Internet. Bumper stickers, yard signs and more are becoming more in evidence. Petitions are being signed online and in stores.

And last Sunday, the grassroots Save the A campaign splashed its message across four full pages of The Chronicle – complete with thousands of names of area residents who support the effort.

We’ve frankly never seen anything quite like it. An entire community is standing up to the state and having its voice heard.

But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of it all is how positive their message is.

The first of the four Save the A newspaper ads, for instance, starts off by actually thanking state officials – specifically Gov. Nathan Deal, the legislature and the Board of Regents – for their commitment to the two universities being combined, Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University. Millions will be invested in the combined school, which should come out exponentially stronger in the long term.

The ad then respectfully asks them to reconsider the name for the combined school – Georgia Regents University – and reminds state officials that “University of Augusta” was the overwhelming choice of Georgians and other Americans and academicians polled nationwide – a survey that school officials, themselves, commissioned.

Again using the word “please,” the campaign asks state officials not to waste taxpayer funds defending the proposed Georgia Regents name against a lawsuit from Regent University in Virginia. That school has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Augusta for trademark infringement. And it’s sure to be a money-sucker.

The fourth point made in the Save the A campaign ad is actually a pledge: that this community will rally behind the combined school, and state officials individually, if the name is changed.

The Save-the-A ad on Sunday’s Page 3B also included contact information for Gov. Deal, University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby and Board of Regents Chairman Benjamin Tarbutton III. In the spirit of the Save the A campaign, we urge you to contact each of these officials, but to do so respectfully and in the upbeat, forward-looking fashion the campaign has been waged.

We hope our friends in Atlanta will appreciate that spirit of constructiveness, increasingly rare today, but not miss the passion behind it. This community feels very strongly about this issue.

Just as important, we would implore Gov. Deal in particular to take note of the growing, powerful energy here that has been coalescing over this issue. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not a problem. It’s not a tantrum. And it’s not going away.

It’s a positive force for change, pure and simple.

Rather than shun it or ignore it or hope it goes away, Gov. Deal and his colleagues should see it for the dynamic force for progress and cohesion that it is – and decide to embrace it. Honor it. Harness it.

There is still time for Gov. Deal and the Board of Regents to come out winners in the eyes of Augusta.

They can still Save the A. And everyone will come out on top.

Comments (13) Add comment
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Little Lamb
46405
Points
Little Lamb 10/06/12 - 06:44 am
5
0
Grooo

Whether or not the word "Augusta" ends up in the name, we must reject the hideous notion of naming the school after a board of political hacks.

GEORGIA REGENTS UNIVERSITY
An Institution Dedicated To Vanity

Butterbean
245
Points
Butterbean 10/06/12 - 07:36 am
3
0
What about Trust?

I have signed the petition. I gave much less to the A-Day fund raiser that I usually give. I sincerely hope that the "Save the A" effort is successful. And if it is (or is not) I STILL will probably have a real trust issue with Dr. Azziz because of the way in which this whole fiasco was handled. Simply put: How do I know when he (a public official) is lying to us -- again?

OnTheHill1
345
Points
OnTheHill1 10/06/12 - 09:29 am
1
0
Relying On Studies to Make His Points

Azziz sites 2 Studies and 1 Essay in his A Flattening World: Wire from the Far East (Part II) blog http://azziz.georgiahealth.edu/. Quoting from the blog:

"Half of colleges and universities surveyed placed ‘internationalization’ among their top five strategic priorities, according to a survey by the American Council of Education. And in 2011 the number of international students in U.S. colleges and universities reached an all time high."

"For example, a survey of 450 international students attending 4-year colleges in the U.S. South and Northeast reported that 38 percent had no close American friends (; and Gareis E. International Friendship: Effect of Home and Host Region. J Intl Intercultural Comm. 2012:1-20)."

"In fact, a recent essay by Michael Silverstein and Abheek Singhi in the Wall Street Journal questions if U.S. universities can stay on top."

His reliance on these "proofs" is so disingenuous, considering his overt discarding of the study results on the name change. Some actually say he might be bipolar? Is that a favorable trait for a leader who has the fate of 10s of thousands of people at his bidding?

Word has it that his Board of Visitors met October 4-5, 2012 at some location in Augusta, no doubt so that he could wine and dine them at exorbitant cost at the Westobou Festival or at his house. Like to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting, as he couldn't hide all the Save The A yard signs popping up all over (he has already admitted he doesn't read the Chronicle so he does not know of the 4 full pages in the Sunday addition). But are those Board of Visitor members at his bidding too? Sans Billy Morris and Nick Evans, who were members of this august group, pun intended.

Fiat_Lux
15678
Points
Fiat_Lux 10/06/12 - 10:17 am
2
0
This outrageous insult could turn out to be a good thing for us

The response from Augusta and surrounding environs has been amazing, to say the least. It is an absolute certainty Azziz was completely unprepared and that he never expected anything like the kind of resistance and rejection he has gotten from a bunch of Southern hicks.

Honestly, I believe he thought he was coming here to save us from our backward, unambitious ways, and to take the unrecognized, untapped resources down here in South Podunk and transform them into something world class. He also must have thought we'd be too slow on the uptake to be any bother, even once we realized he'd tossed out our history as irrelevant to his mission.

Yes, we backward ignorants would have been saved from our own slothful indolence and pushed into the 21st Century by the sheer force of intellect and personality residing in that sophisticated citizen-physician-artist of the world, the quintessential Ricardo Azziz, Renaissance man par excellence, a feat accomplished at the behest of our betters, the Bored of Regents. What a feather in his cap we would have been, and in theirs if they even care that much.

It's just too, too bad he didn't know something accurate about who are before he jumped into our little swamp. There certainly is tons of great stuff here, but we already know all about it. And draining the swamp sure isn't the way to bring it out.

The Save-the-A folks are showing every bit of world-class sophistication that Azziz and the other powers-that-be respect. They are straight arrows flying from the heart of Augusta, and that heart has not beat so strongly or with such a singular rhythm in 150 years. We have never loved ASU and MCG as much as we do today.

Azziz and the BOR have done that for us. I suspect the cost to them will be considerable.

OnTheHill1
345
Points
OnTheHill1 10/06/12 - 11:11 am
3
0
Time For ASU Faculty To Step Up

http://www.metrospirit.com/?p=4271 - An interesting insight from an anonymous writer that cites: "The widely embraced 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, jointly authored by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Association of American Colleges covers not only in class discussion/debate, but also political and public affairs speech in any appropriate venue."

The writer goes on to state: "To paraphrase a number of online definitions of the above policy, while instructors are urged to be careful to avoid unnecessary controversial matter that is unrelated to their instructional material, outside the classroom they can really let it all hang out. In other words, when they speak or write in public, they are free to express their opinions without fear of institutional censorship or discipline. Common sense dictates they show restraint and clearly indicate that they are not speaking for their institution. That said, under the prevailing principles of the statement, academic tenure protects freedom of expression by ensuring that teachers can be fired only for causes such as gross professional incompetence or behavior that evokes condemnation from the academic community itself."

This 1940 Statement of Principles would certainly apply to GHSU faculty too, yet a rule/law/principle is only as effective as its enforcement. If the bully Azziz decides to terminate faculty if they disagree with him, "If you sign the petition, are seen demonstrating, display a Save-The-A yard sign, you will be fired" then their only recourse is to file suit, a costly proposition.

Quoting from the Principle, http://www.aaup.org/aaup/pubsres/policydocs/contents/1940statement.htm: "Also, there have been relevant developments in the law itself reflecting a growing insistence by the courts on due process within the academic community which parallels the essential concepts of the 1940 Statement; particularly relevant is the identification by the Supreme Court of academic freedom as a right protected by the First Amendment. As the Supreme Court said in Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589 (1967), 'Our Nation is deeply committed to safeguarding academic freedom, which is of transcendent value to all of us and not merely to the teachers concerned. That freedom is therefore a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom.'”

Where does Azziz stand on this 1st Amendment related law. My guess is he ignores it because it does not support his own biased and 1 sided agenda. I would add to the Subject line, "Time For ASU and GHSU Faculties to Step Up"

OnTheHill1
345
Points
OnTheHill1 10/06/12 - 11:23 am
1
0
Named Save-The-A Movers and Shakers...Possibly

The anonymous writer of the op-ed "Time for ASU Faculty to Step Up" http://www.metrospirit.com/?p=4271 names some of the committee of Movers and Shakers behind the Save-The-A campaign: Billy Morris III, Fleming Norvell, Nick Evans, Louis Wall, Dr. Randy Smith, Dr. Al Stocks, Trex Bollick, Chris Cunningham, Dr. Charles Coleman, Josh Gregory, Barry Paschal, Michael Ryan, Harley Drew, Helen Blocker-Adams, Rick McKee and Harry Jacobs.

If this list is accurate, Nick Evans and John Hall have already been quoted and certainly Billy Morris III is on the committee, congratulations to those who have stepped up.

Riverman1
84920
Points
Riverman1 10/06/12 - 11:39 am
1
0
This uproar tops the upset

This uproar tops the upset Braves fans throwing bottles and cans on the field. Love it.

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 10/06/12 - 02:09 pm
1
0
I'll be surprised....

.....if these arrogant hacks change their minds...

Fiat_Lux
15678
Points
Fiat_Lux 10/06/12 - 04:02 pm
1
0
Oh, they won't change their minds...

but that doesn't mean their minds can't be changed for them when the pressure starts becoming uncomfortable for those above them.

willie7
961
Points
willie7 10/06/12 - 04:15 pm
0
2
As Mayor Copenhaver has said,
Unpublished

As Mayor Copenhaver has said, " Let's move on and solve some of our serious problems"!!!!!!

harley_52
23631
Points
harley_52 10/06/12 - 04:50 pm
2
0
As Admiral David Glasgow said..

...... in 1864, at the Battle of Mobile Bay as he found himself in the middle of a Confederate minefield....... "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."

socks99
250
Points
socks99 10/06/12 - 05:09 pm
2
0
The stakes are much higher,

The stakes are much higher, however, than the name of the new institution; our Regent-run system of higher education including institutions in Augusta face now steep challenges to remain effective, productive and credible.

In a nut-shell, our Governor's ALLOWED the Regent's, themselves to become politicized, where they transformed their alumni associations into grist for something of a football game with the higher education system and the public purse!

It ought NOT have been allowed to EVER happen! But now Pandora is out of her box, and it remains unclear if she can be re-confined or if the system is to devolve into a cold war of politics and regionalism that guts the best most credible parts from the system and lays waste to the public treasury.

Good luck with the name change! Why not ask the state to back-off on the medical school satellite campuses and new engineering schools and "keep the powder dry." An over-extended, increasingly indebted, over-promised system can only deliver poor results, disappointment and flagging public confidence that threatens the very existence of higher education in GA. Time for some changes, alright, and if a name change is a signal of a "new day," then more power to you!

harley_52
23631
Points
harley_52 10/06/12 - 05:47 pm
2
0
It Is My Understanding...

...that professional staff (including some doctors with critical skills) are leaving GRU hospital in droves. Nurses with critical skills are bailing as well. Tell me....would you rather your resume' said "GRU" or "Yale?"

Who will turn out the lights after everybody leaves?

Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 10/06/12 - 11:25 pm
0
0
Well Call Me Curious

Why, if the AC thinks this is such a huge deal, with the devotion of so many column inches of news stories, letters to the editor and editorials, this latest screed drums up a grand total of only 13 comments by 7 posters and an agragatr total of 24 thumbs-up and down(14, 8 and 0 when you count mine)?

Could it be that most people just don't care about a pet Chronicle peev? Or does willie7 have it right?

At any rate, this points out to me the sad direction this newspaper has taken.

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 10/07/12 - 01:59 am
0
0
I rarely agree with ya RA...

...but this is " much ado about nothing"....The Regents aren't gonna change their minds about this.
I don't like it either but I'd rather see this energy used to "Fire Fred" which will have a more positive impact on the community than whether we are "Jags" or (insert name change here)....

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