'Help us rebuild'

Georgia Regents University name still is an insult, but don't let bitterness spoil an effective consolidation

This page has been forthright in its undying opposition to the Georgia Regents University name, as well as the ugly manner of the consolidation that gave rise to it.

Get over it? Never. It’s a perfectly putrid name, though the stench of it attaches as much to the way it was chosen: Augustans were duped into thinking they had input into the name, when it appears all along the fix was in. Officials even had to ignore the results of a $45,000 national survey that ranked University of Augusta, or something akin to it, as the top choice.

As for the “Georgia Regents University” name, if they had been test-marketing it as a new product, it never would have been manufactured.

The whole thing is an enduring insult to Augusta.

Even at this late date, we encourage supporters of the former Augusta State University – which was consolidated with the former Medical College of Georgia to make GRU – to keep their heads up and their spirits unbowed.

That’s not easy, we know. We realize faculty, staff and administration at the former ASU feel they have not been treated at all well by the GRU leadership. We know you feel the health sciences campus has run roughshod over you, with tremendous disregard for the years of able service you’ve put in.

Though no one has been bold enough to speak out about what’s been going on – the dearth of whistleblowers has been staggering – we do hear things.

We also are at a complete loss as to why the state seems to have no interest in any of this – and has dutifully ignored a soaringly eloquent letter of warning from former ASU interim President Shirley Kenny, in which she diplomatically but powerfully skewered the consolidation process.

Having said all that, we would also urge our friends at the former ASU (now known as GRU’s Summerville campus) not to focus their hurt and anger on their colleagues from the health sciences campus.

We met recently with an anonymous source from the health sciences campus – one who says she was once a supporter of the “Save the A” campaign to keep Augusta in the name of the consolidated university. And she says she has lost sympathy for folks at the Summerville campus because of their continued bitterness and even hostility toward her and others from downtown.

This worker tells us she’s tried to treat former ASU colleagues with respect and even kid gloves, but that “I am still treated with hostility, hatred and bitterness. ...

“Help us rebuild the community. You’ll find that most everyone on the Health Sciences campus is just like you. We are trying to get a job done the best way we know how ...”

We don’t know whether the war is over as she says – we certainly won’t give up – but we’d implore our friends at the former ASU to pick their battles wisely. Rank-and-file soldiers from the health sciences campus aren’t the enemy, any more than you are theirs.

Rather, speak out if you feel wronged; many in the news media would allow you to do so anonymously. Let your legislators know how you feel. Let the governor and Board of Regents know.

And since we know of several people on the medical college side of the merged campus who also are dissatisfied with the university’s name, a “Save the A” petition from this group would be a splendid show of support.

But everyone should work toward a smooth and effective consolidation – from both ends.

That being said, all of this ill will could just go away if one thing happened.

Change. The. Name.

It is the issue. The remaining employees of the former ASU are the stepchildren of a lost institution, and they have every right to be unhappy.

Anyone who still hopes to “Save the A” can be asked to forgive. They shouldn’t be expected to forget.

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