The expunging of Augusta

GRU brochure erases photographic connections with Augusta and further wipes away community goodwill

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To insult and injury, they have added arrogance and cowardice – amid a climate of fear, oppression and reprisal.

Sadly enough, we’re not talking about a far-off dictatorship; we’re describing, only in part, the blanket of condescension, coercion, reprisal and iron-fisted tyranny that has descended over what is now known as Georgia Regents University.

It’s time you knew the truth.

And it’s time Augusta united against it.

Augusta never has accepted the malodorous name “Georgia Regents University” that was foisted on us by imperious officials during the recent merger of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University. In fact, the community revolted, with a broad, grassroots “Save the A” campaign to keep “Augusta” in the new name.

In the end, officials led by GHSU and now GRU President Ricardo Azziz ignored passionate community sentiment – as well as their own $45,000 survey results that put the name “Augusta” on top – and stuck us with GRU.

Save the A leaders reluctantly agreed to call off the dogs when Azziz agreed to use “Augusta” in marketing materials, to unofficially make it “Georgia Regents University Augusta.” But school officials reneged. Fact is, they’ve done the exact opposite.

Not only have GRU officials failed to fully live up to their bargain to use “Augusta” in marketing the combined university, but now they have even begun erasing “Augusta”: In GRU’s new glossy promotional brochure for prospective students, photographs of championship Augusta State athletic teams have outrageously been electronically altered to remove Augusta State logos and references from their shirts, jerseys and hats.

The brochures were quickly halted after word of them hit the news. But the damage is done. It is, in effect, an attempted purge of the Augusta State name and a disgraceful denial of its proud history. It’s fraud and deceit, pure and simple.

Basketball star Ben Madgen, ASU’s all-time scoring leader – now a pro in Australia – once had his number retired by the school. Now, scandalously, his school name has been retired too, in a photo of him and his jubilant teammates, who went through much together to hoist that trophy of theirs.

“Really heartbreaking,” is how Madgen reacted to having his school name ripped from his jersey.

Indeed, it’s an inexcusable insult to Madgen and every other athlete who’s ever worn “Augusta State” on their clothes, and every fan who ever cheered them on.

It’s also a stone cold slap in the face to a community that had already been insulted in the school’s naming process.

How much more of this is Augusta going to take?

Consider just the arrogance in GRU spokesman David Brond’s explanation that the erasures were done in order to “eliminate other brands” from the publication in question.

Really? That’s all Augusta State University is to these people? A “brand”?

Well, forgive longtime and native Augustans for believing our beloved Augusta State is much more than a label on a can. We have poured our hearts and souls and dollars and even our offspring into this institution and its predecessors, for decades and decades. And we sure as heck don’t appreciate having that legacy wiped out with the wave of a computer mouse.

Brond also claims removing the Augusta name from photos was just simpler than explaining the merger and name change. That’s so much claptrap. If you can’t explain the name change in a single dependent clause, you’ve got no business being in marketing.

Such a cavalier expunging of Augusta also reveals an acute indifference toward all the people who have made these institutions what they were.

To all this dismissiveness and disdain, add cowardice. GRU’s Brond has refused to say who authorized the photo alterations. But he’s all-too-happy to blame the mystery Photoshop Ghost for what he now calls an “error in judgment.”

We find it hard to believe that such an executive-level “error in judgment” didn’t emanate from high up, or that the “error” wasn’t approved at the highest levels – particularly given what a control freak Dr. Azziz has shown himself to be. It’s not the kind of assertive and pivotal decision a low-level employee feels empowered to make.

We even doubt that Vice Provost Roman Cibirka, whose Division of Enrollment Management produced the books, would’ve felt comfortable making such a command decision without support upstairs.

Whoever authorized it should be fired – up to, and including, the president.

To the cowardice, add
coercion: GRU’s administration has put muzzles on everyone at the combined institution, with orders not to comment publicly on this or, judging from what we’ve heard, many other goings-on at the university our tax dollars fund.

Why? What are they afraid of? Any dissension whatsoever?

We hope this story opens the floodgates at GRU, and that staff will have the courage to come forward in the face of threats from the administration to share vital information with the public. It’s our school, not theirs.

It is certain the contemptuous whitewashing of Augusta’s legacy is but a symptom of a larger problem at GRU. We can tell you from firsthand knowledge that a grossly unhealthy and stifling climate of abject fear has fallen over these two formerly proud and open institutions under Ricardo Azziz’s reign. Administrators and academics at the pinnacles of their careers and professions – good citizens who have done no wrong – are living in a fog of utter foreboding. They have a nagging sense that someone is out to get them, and that that someone is the school they used to love coming to work for. And wearing muzzles, they surely have no reason to believe their thoughts and opinions are valued up the chain.

It’s not just logos and names on jerseys and ballcaps that are being erased at Georgia Regents University.

Comments (23) Add comment
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faithson
5531
Points
faithson 03/01/13 - 12:38 am
8
0
ASU Alum

Kinda reminds me of the Georgia Railroad Bank and Trust. A community gold piece sold off to the highest bidder. I do like the idea that my Dr. brother in law and I will hence forth have graduated from the same school. This act by the marketing department to intentionally deface a picture is abhorrent. If the good Dr. Azziz was at all behind this decision, and there was a discussion to deface, I would wish, he kindly, put Augusta on his resume and head back out west.

soapy_725
44151
Points
soapy_725 03/01/13 - 06:23 am
0
0
ARC does 1984. Opening at the Historic Imperial Theater.
Unpublished

Erase this, add that, Photo Shop this, delete this. And the rewriting of history as a "daily function of government" makes it to the pages of the AC.

- The May 1970 riots were actually instigated by aliens from out space. Neither black or white humans were involved. It was a test for future invasions.

- Young Deke Coperhaver was the first to realize this and wrote his kindergarten thesis on the subject. " Augusta is not About Race, It is about Space".

- Port Royal was a complete success in every way. It was built as a science project to test the stability of the Savannah River bank in advance of future construction of the levee.

peggyandrick
169
Points
peggyandrick 03/01/13 - 06:28 am
7
0
Nailed it!!

I seldom agree with the Chronicle's editorials, but this time you nailed it. No one has done more to unify the Augusta community than Dr. Azziz and his coterie of suck-ups. Now I wish they would take their bonding show on the road to some place far away from Augusta.

curly123053
5405
Points
curly123053 03/01/13 - 06:55 am
5
1
Socialism Is Alive And Well

Basically this case is closed for the following reasons. Socialism is alive and well in Georgia State Government. Socialism is alive and well in Richmond County Government. Socialism has planted itself firmly with the Georgia Board of Regents. Socialism is alive and well in Augusta at GRU as a result.
I too have heard of the threats made to administrators of both former institutions MCG and ASU about keeping their opinions to themselves if it does not agree with GRU if they are interested in keeping their positions. This too shows that Soicalism is alive and well at GRU and is here to stay since the Mayor and Commisioners, and local Legislators refused to stand up for their comunity in this fiasco. This case is closed without the spinelss mayor standing with his people on this matter. Socialism is alive and well in Augusta Ga.

Riverman1
94356
Points
Riverman1 03/01/13 - 07:22 am
8
0
Chronicle Fires Shot Across Bow

The Chronicle has just fired a warning shot across the bow. Captain Azziz must go. Pirates who sneak into our town to pillage our traditions will not be tolerated.

Altering the photos is the result of an environment of people going way too far trying to do what they think will please the leader. No one speaks up in an honest way in that atmosphere. There will be more embarrassing incidents as long as this type of management exists.

Let’s have Azziz walk the plank near a Caribbean island medical school, swim there and cause civil unrest on THAT island. There’s not another American medical school that will take him after his experience here.

Riverman1
94356
Points
Riverman1 03/01/13 - 08:13 am
6
0
GRU at Augusta

Notice the name, GRU at Augusta, is not being used ANYWHERE now. Wasn't that compromise agreed to? I had envisioned the sports teams with Augusta in big letters and GRU in tiny ones, but it appears the orders are Augusta is not to be used anywhere. Would Azziz and others in the Wolf's Lair clarify?

my.voice
5182
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my.voice 03/01/13 - 08:33 am
3
0
A day late and a dollar short

A day late and a dollar short AC. We dropped the ball when given the chance to turn back the tide. Save The A completely missed the boat with the momentum they had. Fumbled the ball on the two yard line.

Did you expect really different now that the State Regeim has shown their true colors?

steelersrock
24
Points
steelersrock 03/01/13 - 08:40 am
3
0
They don't care!

The powers that be don't care. Emperor Azziz and his cronies will run their kingdom the way they see fit. There is nothing the people and alumnus of ASU can do about it. Just accept it. They don't lead, they dictate. This is not servant leadership. Unless people are willing to do something drastic, things will go according to plan. Save the A was ultimately meaningless. People have got more to be worried about, like their jobs for example. Faculty and staff won't stand up, at least not in this economy, which is a pity. If you think it's bad now, just wait. Changes to school policy are already going forward- admissions, tuition, tenure, leadership structure etc. The name change controversy will seem so quaint when compared to the hard hitting changes that are coming. People are going to lose their jobs anyways. Students in the community won't be accepted due to higher admissions standards or won't be able to afford tuition. Some faculty and staff are drinking the kool-aid and believe that GRU is going to be this incredible institution. But how can you do that without civic pride or community support? This is not totally Azziz's fault. He's probably just doing the bidding of others in the state and his tenure at GRU is probably setting him up for bigger and better things somewhere else. Azziz will leave the first chance he gets, once that something does come. Life will go on and hopefully GRU will be something one day. It will be up to the students and faculty to salvage something out of this mess and create a new identity with what they've been given.

Frenchified
84
Points
Frenchified 03/01/13 - 08:45 am
6
0
Thank you Chronicle

Thank you for such a fine and strong editorial. I spent a lot of years devoted to AC/ASU as a professor. My colleagues and I built programs and graduated successful students, and loved every minute of it. Now I mourn my school that has been erased from the books. We are now supposed to buy into a "legacy" of a 2-month-old institution. Really? It is inevitable that Dr. Azziz will leave eventually. May that departure come sooner rather than later.

MrClen1944
375
Points
MrClen1944 03/01/13 - 08:50 am
2
0
You must remember, Azziz has

You must remember, Azziz has brought "cool" to Augusta. The horn-rimmed glasses and pompadour hairdo. This is the price we have to pay because there was no "no bullying policy" back in the day. Still, I enjoyed the role he played in the movie "Mommy Dearest."

Tyler-Ray_Daddy
44
Points
Tyler-Ray_Daddy 03/01/13 - 09:59 am
3
0
Merger is a Diversion for Complete ASU Elimination

I was a 48 year old student within my final class (Strategic Mgmt) at ASU approximately 1 year ago. An instructor asked for the opinions of students as to the merging of MCG & ASU; most everyone had a favorable opinion of the merger. However, I had been around long enough to see through what I believed was simply going to be a back-door takeover of ASU by MCG with ASU eventually disappearing. I believe it is now becoming more evident every day this whole merger was a diversion for appearance sake; a plan is being followed to expand MCG beyond downtown and obtain the physical facilities of ASU. It is just a matter of time till the curriculum at ASU will slowly be dissolved and then all the grounds will eventually become Georgia Regions Medical Univ.

NrthAugustaSam
504
Points
NrthAugustaSam 03/01/13 - 10:03 am
3
0
Hello Augusta Chronicle!

I am just wondering why the Augusta Chronicle has not investigated the changes "steelsersrock" hinted at above. Tuition is going up for the same undergraduate degrees that ASU has been offering for years - just because of the GRU consolidation. Admissions standards are going up which will squeeze out hundreds of our local community. The former ASU faculty and staff are being treated like redheaded stepchildren and daily face an increasingly hostile environment and compensation inequities. ASU staff are being relocated to staging areas in downtown facilities like Hitler moved the Jews while taking facility after facility on the Summerville campus for the Azziz team. "Steelersrock" is right. The public ain't seen nothing yet. Azziz and his henchmen have breached the trust of Augusta and it is time for him and others to go. Chronicle: Get out there and write the rest of this story. It's more than branding. It's more about the premeditated pillaging of Augusta State to pull funding out of the acquisition. The only problem is that when you do the math we all lose unless you are Azziz and his paycheck. I am ready for the Chronicle to really do some reporting and quit playing powder puff athletics with Azziz.

NrthAugustaSam
504
Points
NrthAugustaSam 03/01/13 - 10:46 am
1
0
Suppression?

This brings to mind the obvious malice behind the New York newspaper that removed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another woman from the now-iconic photo of the Obama national security team watching the raid that killed Osama bin Laden from the White House Situation Room.

Darby
29544
Points
Darby 03/01/13 - 11:51 am
2
0
"Let’s have Azziz walk the plank near

a Caribbean island "
.
You do know that there are a lot of sharks in those Caribbean waters don't you??? Do I sense an ulterior motive here.?

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 03/01/13 - 01:35 pm
2
5
Dr. Azziz and merger not the problem

While this is definitely a unfortunate issue, the city has much bigger problems at hand.

The major problem with Augusta is some of the residents who have lived here for multiple decades, and not the newcomers. The better question for the entire community is doing something in response to the media coverage.

How much more of the local bias can Augusta take?

The Chronicle wants all of us to join up against Dr. Azziz, but they downgrade Richmond County daily in order to make Columbia County look good. During Masters week the news is all positive, and then we return to the majority negative stories.

I'm positive if the Evans Lady A amphitheater or exhibition hall in Grovetown had 20 events, it would be considered a huge deal. They would get even more praise if they attracted a $8 million hotel development. The media was still trying to make a big deal out of the name yesterday(TEE or Augusta Convention Center) instead of focusing on the important issue(it's now completed).

Notice how the reporting on Project Jackson is much different now. The reporting on North Augusta includes both sides of the aisle, but leans towards the people who support the project. The media would always go find the same few people in Augusta who don't support anything new, but only include the mayor speaking for it.

I laughed when the Chronicle asked on Facebook why do you think Christmas made in the South might relocate to Columbia County. They clearly know this is read meat for the people who can't stand Augusta. The Chronicle would never ask the public why did Electrolux move to West Augusta, and not come back to Martinez.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 03/01/13 - 04:25 pm
2
0
THis is how you hijack a thread

CM, I don't doubt much of what you say. I like the bright outlook you talk about too. This TEE center development has to be a means to channel money and contracts. With all the players going around their elbow to get to their tuckus and all the research that couldn't have possibly been done due to the number of costly mistakes, how can anyone argue that some scofflaw'ing didn't go down here. It's either that or half the folks running the city don't have a clue how to run a lemonade stand. Which one? I just don't buy that all these mistakes, and under-quotes, and discrepancies are the result of randomness.

I take the good with the bad and if I'm going to love Augusta, then I have to call out the bad when I see it. The development of the TEE, albeit an ultimate "gain", was badly conceived. That is an important issue.

harley_52
26117
Points
harley_52 03/01/13 - 04:41 pm
1
0
GRU....

...is off to an unfortunate start. The naming debacle and now this exercise in chicanery are not things that inspire confidence and build good reputations for excellence, honor, and integrity, three things people might seek when choosing an institution of higher learning, or a place to go when you need specialized, sophisticated medical care.

Reputations come easy, but they're nearly impossible to change.

GRU is behind the eight ball.

harley_52
26117
Points
harley_52 03/01/13 - 04:51 pm
0
0
The Governor's Lack Of Leadership...

....in all these GRU related problems is breathtaking.

Will he become part of the solution, or remain part of the problem?

Riverman1
94356
Points
Riverman1 03/01/13 - 06:00 pm
0
0
About my ulterior motive,

About my ulterior motive, Darby. I know you are joking, but I took up for Azziz so much when he first came and during the merger of the schools that some rants and raves wondered if I were actually Azziz. Needless to say my comments supporting him have changed over time. Heh.

avidreader
3567
Points
avidreader 03/01/13 - 07:06 pm
1
0
Dr. Azziz, please go away!

It's time to hire a new president for the merged schools. Perception is 90% reality in most debates. Dr. Azziz is damaged goods. GRU, or whatever, is in dire need of leadership that can actually lead. It still amazes me that our cherished Dr. Bloodworth never fought for his community. He somewhat sailed off into the ranks of the faculty and never voiced the opinions of those who supported him for so long.

OJP
7779
Points
OJP 03/01/13 - 11:56 pm
0
1
That's some fiery language over a name.

The merger is overall a great thing for the area. This editorial seems to reflect a vendetta as opposed to concern over the city's best interests.

Fiat_Lux
16445
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/02/13 - 12:11 am
0
0
It is hard to believe, much less to describe

just how nutty things have gotten at MCG. I can't imagine what it must be like at ASU now.

In many places people are being uprooted from one location or department and are simply dropped in another. Job descriptions are being summarily changed without even talking to the people holding the jobs. And there is chaos everywhere because so many of these huge changes have been pushed through way before the essential framework has even been thought out.

Since about 1980, I have never seen MCG people so unhappy or so insecure about their jobs. These horrible people absolutely do not even see us as people, much less as people like themselves: we are tools for them to use for their own undisclosed reasons, and we have no other value or purpose. We might as well be hammers and nails because they are quite clear any one of us can be replaced just as easily.

This is your legacy, Dr. Azziz. How proud you must be.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 03/02/13 - 12:08 am
0
0
Missing the point

Yes, OJP is correct that merging the universities is a good idea. But having Ricardo Azziz as the president of the merged university (hideously named Grooo) is a bad, bad, bad idea!

Hence, the editorial is right on the mark.

Fiat_Lux
16445
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/02/13 - 12:16 am
0
0
And, Countyman,

perhaps if you had stood up for Augusta instead of kissing Azziz's patookus as he destroyed 200 years of our heritage, people would be more interested in your view of the county's "real" problems now.

Sour grapes are not interesting.

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