The state Board of Regents recently voted to name the new school – reputedly at the recommendation of GHSU President Ricardo Azziz – “Georgia Regents University,” or GRU. Immediately, and continuing strongly since, there has been a loud and thunderous outcry from the Augusta community, and current and former students of both ASU and GHSU, against the selected name.
This is no loud minority simply banging our drums and crying foul. GRU was one of several names on a $45,500 series of state and national surveys, and those surveys showed 97 percent of respondents did not favor GRU.
There are many other key points to consider:
• GRU, or “Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye,” is the military intelligence and/or secret police of Russia – not something I, as a student, want to be associated with.
• Regent University already is a school based in Virginia. Before the regents voted on the name, Regent University sent a letter of warning instructing them that, if GRU was chosen, they would seek legal action. The regents and Azziz chose to ignore the warning, and are now to be sued for copyright infringement.
• GRU has absolutely no connection to the history, community or reputation of either ASU or GHSU.
Augusta is known worldwide for its connection to the Masters Tournament, and ASU’s golf team has benefited greatly from this connection (back-to-back national champions).
GHSU is one of the nation’s top medical universities.
At two forums Aug. 16 at ASU and GHSU, many of these arguments and more were brought before Azziz. He proceeded to use the same, tired, crafted argument that he had no say in the naming, and the regents had made their decision. He stated that he agreed with the decision because of “branding,” feeling that GRU is somehow an easier/superior name to brand and distribute on a worldwide scale.
Common sense would dictate that an already-established name would be easier, quicker and cheaper to expand on than to completely rebrand the university with a name that already is synonymous with another school and the secret Russian military police.
Azziz has made it clear he does not respect the Augusta community, and he is moving forward with his own secret agenda. Our community has spoken loud and clear that we do not want GRU as the name of our new university, but neither the Board of Regents nor Azziz is willing to listen.
I urge Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to take action and contact the regents and Azziz, and let them know that this egregious action cannot stand and must be changed.
Staff Sgt. Jacob M. Lundeen
(The writer is a U.S. Army reservist and a physics major at Augusta State University.)