There is no rulebook on how one merges two long-standing and beloved institutions within one community. It is a thankless task, yet one that, if accomplished, could jettison both the institution and the community into a new and higher level of recognition and success. But that will only happen if we quit fighting one another!
Yes, mistakes are being made. This consolidation is occurring with insane deadlines and insufficient staff and resources. Frankly, I do not believe the most recent issue was really about the altered photos in the promotional pamphlet. The “error” made was not malicious in its intent – it was made to reduce confusion and to promote the unified identity to new students.
The real issue is about the community’s lack of embracement of the new GRU. Everything that is produced by GRU is viewed with skepticism and suspicion in the larger community. There are even some who say that “they” want to erase the proud heritage of Augusta State University (and it intrigues me that the community seems to care little that Georgia Health Sciences University has all but melted away in this search for a new collective identity, and that the Medical College of Georgia is now the name of the medical school only).
Who are “they”? We are all now Georgia Regents University, and frankly, I am proud to be a faculty member of the institution. The real question is when do we let go of the past and embrace our new future – together? If the energy expended on “Save the A” and other efforts designed to protest consolidation, was redirected to insuring the success of GRU, then GRU could be to Augusta what Stanford University is to Palo Alto, Calif. That is something we should all get behind and cheer.
Nothing is going to be perfect, but I challenge this community to become part of the solutions and not just problem-identifiers. We either will flourish together, or will continue in this confrontational farce until no one in academia wants to live in this community – and that is a loss from which the community will not recover.
We have the opportunity as a community to showcase and support our new consolidated university. I challenge and implore everyone to get behind it and to rally for its success, instead of nitpicking it to death. Give folks the benefit of the doubt, and do not ascribe nefarious motives to every mistake made.
(The writer is executive director of the Georgia Statewide Area Health Education Center Network, a partnership designed to increase the ranks of health professionals in rural and underserved parts of the state.)