If GRU name stays, will medical school leave Augusta?

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There could be a very good reason that Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz refuses to consider a name change to one with “Augusta” in it. Is it possible he has an agenda being kept close to the vest because it would cause an even bigger furor than the name change has caused? I fear that Dr. Azziz is to our college consolidation what corporate downsizer Al Dunlap (“Chainsaw Al”) was to business.

Azziz knows a neutral name could work better in Athens or anywhere than “University of Augusta” or “Augusta University.” He has stated that the medical college is not moving while he’s here. Exactly how long will he be here? Like Dunlap, will he be here long enough to consolidate the schools, get them on track, cut a great number of employees and then leave the actual move to a new leader?

Azziz has not been honest with the name issue. Why should we believe anything else he says?

It is odd that all we heard for a long time was that the then-Medical College of Georgia needed to be in Athens. Even the powers-that-be in Atlanta were pushing the move. The topic died with the talk of consolidation. Has this lulled us into believing the medical college will remain here when consolidation is finished? Is keeping the medical college here really part of the big picture?

If we will not see big results for another 10 to 20 years, as Azziz has stated, maybe there are other plans we are not aware of – a medical school move, perhaps? Certainly Azziz cannot say he needs a neutral name so he can raise funds to move the medical college out of town. He just has to keep that issue to himself and ram the name “Georgia Regents University” down our throats until we give up.

To those who wish to move forward and accept the new name so we can begin to make progress, be careful what you wish for. You might accept the name and make donations to the school only to watch your beloved newly named medical school moved. Few will care or know about its history when it’s Georgia Regents University of Athens.

I, for one, will not donate another dime to this effort.

Mary Ellen Zielinski


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Riverman1 08/25/12 - 07:55 am
I doubt that

I appreciate your sentiments and agree about the name, but the medical school is not leaving Augusta. It's too big, too much infrastructure, too connected to the health care side and too many employees who are happy here.

The second med school in Athens was not an effective cost benefit as far as turning out new physicians, but that's another story. I agree the Athens med school will eventually start to siphon funding that would have come to Augusta over the coming decades.

But if you want to see what happens when political pressure causes a state to start a second med school, look no further than to SC. When politicians built a school for USC in Columbia it turned into a struggling nightmare that's ranked almost on the bottom of schools with MUSC in Charleston being one of the best.

Finally, there probably is some truth that the current branch med school in Athens didn't want Augusta over its name.

seenitB4 08/25/12 - 09:26 am

Ramming doesn't work in this town....ask a candidate for Sheriff..

noxiousfumes 08/27/12 - 09:59 am
Behind the Hedges

I just finished reading Behind the Hedges by Richard Whitt and it gives a better understanding of what is going on here. The book talks about the machinations at UGA including the firing of Vince Dooley, the split between UGA and the UGA Foundation and the formation of the Arch Foundation, the arrogance of the BOR and Michael Adams, the president of UGA.

The late author was an investigative reporter who dug through documents and talked to dozens of people directly associated with UGA. One of the things detailed in the book is that Adams always wanted UGA to have a medical school. Currently, GHSU at Athens is sort of being contracted by UGA. It's located on the campus of UGA, but it is being run by GHSU. Kind of like Cambridge, Central Michigan Univ., and other branches located in Augusta. So I don't think that they are planning to move the school from Augusta; rather they are planning to open different branches of the school in different cities in GA and overseas.

The next thing that struck me in the book was the arrogant, back-room dealing, and ethically challenged Board of Regents. When all of the stink came out about Adams' lavish spending habits using UGA Foundation money, the Foundation had a forensic audit performed. The Board of Regents didn't even bother to READ it, yet they came out in favor of the responses that Adams gave, and basically told the foundation that they needed to stop criticizing the president. Many of the same people are still on the Board of Regents and are in bed with Nathan [never saw a deal not worth trying] Deal and probably Azziz and I know with Adams.

Because Augusta doesn't have much political savvy in the current group of representatives, the back room deals are going to continue to be in place until we get a pit bull in office that will take some of the power in GA back and put it in Augusta.

Riverman1 08/25/12 - 10:09 am
The UGA med school branch

The UGA med school branch classification is no doubt a temporary measure until they can gain credentialing on their own. We all know that. It will be called UGA Medical School soon enough. Already, there is conflict with MCG-Augusta including choosing who would lead the school. They hired who they wanted, not who Augusta wanted. We'll be the mega school in our lifetiime, but they will grow and take money from Augusta eventually. Right now a student would be foolish to choose the Athens school over Augusta because of the faculty, labs and infrastructure here. In the future that will gradually change.

socks99 08/25/12 - 05:27 pm
All along, the argument has

All along, the argument has been couched in findings that indicate a greater need for physicians in the future due to an aging population.

In GA's system of higher education, there is almost no interest at looking at bottom-line calculations that compare bang to buck; if anything, the Regents are a model of risky, spendthrift decision making that might well mean GA's future is less bright than it could have been. Some have noted the predominance of UGA alums at the Regents as the real reason for all this mess; I guess they are correct and note the swiftness in which the system has been engulfed in confidence-sapping, political controversy. So far, the Regents have no one to blame but themselves! They continue to hide behind a political veil they are no longer worthy of.

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