As the dean of the Georgia Regents University Graduate School – hired last June after working the previous 20 years at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, formerly the University of Tennessee, Memphis – I definitively can say that the continuing negativity toward the GRU name change is detrimental to both the university and the community.
My first interview at GRU occurred the day the new name was announced, and at the time I was intrigued by the media’s negative reaction. When in my second interview I was handed a “Save the A” bumper sticker, I knew it was a more serious issue.
I chose to leave my job in Memphis and join the GRU team because I resonate with the GRU leadership’s vision of becoming the next great American university. While I am neither defending nor criticizing the name choice – and I do not know the motives for the continuous campaign against the name – I do know that the negativity significantly affects GRU’s ability to attract the best and brightest students, faculty and staff.
Having been here for eight months, I am convinced that the GRU leadership team is pushing the former Georgia Health Sciences University and Augusta State University, along with the Georgia Regents Health System, to new levels of excellence. I would ask that the community and media recognize GRU as the community jewel that it is, and support its moving forward rather than act as an anchor holding it back.
GRU President Ricardo Azziz and his leadership team have successfully consolidated two very different institutional cultures into a single, cohesive university that is moving forward toward all-around excellence. This consolidation would never have been successful without the buy-in and hard work of GRU employees from all campuses and the health system.
It would be great for the university and our community if everyone worked together with a positive attitude to let future students, faculty, administrators and staff see what a great place GRU is – and thus help attract them to, and keep them in, our wonderful community.