GRU is community jewel

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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.

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deestafford
26523
Points
deestafford 02/08/14 - 01:12 am
12
1
Well, Dr Watsky, let me explain it very simply to you...

Well, Dr Watsky, let me explain it very simply to you---it's call history and pride. Two things that Dr Azziz has no concept of when he came here as evident by one of the first utterances out of his left coast mouth was, "Augusta's not cool''.

You see, we here in Georgia honor our history and those who came before us because without them we would not be whom we are.

If you take the time to read an excellent letter to Dr Azziz by the lady doctor who was an interim (I apologize for forgetting he name) you will understand that next to Sherman, Azziz would be the next one on our popularity totem pole of unfavorable invaders. (I know. Sherman didn't come here but that didn't keep us from preparing for his visit. Too bad we didn't have the same warning of Azziz's arrival.)

Riverman1
82398
Points
Riverman1 02/08/14 - 07:16 am
10
1
Jewel Damaged By Poor Setting

Dr. Watsky, you are new here and should examine who and what caused the turmoil. I find it interesting that you publicly express your support of those over you, but are unaware of the events and management style significant to the conflicts. However, you are astutely cognizant of the unrest as is the entire community and I salute you for noting the significant discontent.

Read the open letter to Azziz from the former interim president as the merger progressed, Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny. Maybe you should contact her since you are in an administrative position and learn another side from someone closely involved. She was the former president of Queens College, City University of New York, from 1985-98 and for the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1994-2009. She was brought here to manage ASU during the merger. Her most telling remark was, “Ricardo, this isn’t about you.”

You said, “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 find it humorous that even you have trouble identifying what portion of the school you are referring to and resort to using “Augusta State University.” Honestly, wouldn’t it have been much better and more logical to have used Augusta University and simply put Augusta University’s above The Medical College of Georgia?

GnipGnop
11890
Points
GnipGnop 02/08/14 - 07:20 pm
12
0
Well if the rest of the staff

has the same mindset as this guy maybe they should get their money from somewhere else other than us back wood hillbilly know nothings...or better yet since he's a educated man he should do a little research and see the lies the public were told and how his boss told lies and wasted money for a survey he never intended to use in the first place.

corgimom
31422
Points
corgimom 02/08/14 - 09:15 am
12
1
"and I do not know the

"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."

Go talk to your boss Azziz- he, and he alone, is responsible for the negativity.

And we don't much appreciate some newcomer berating us and telling us how "negative" we are.

I am an alumna of ASU, and we have very good reasons for feeling the way we do.

seenitB4
85643
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 09:20 am
12
1
rather than act as an anchor holding it back.

Really....you mean we aren't cool?

Junket103
443
Points
Junket103 02/08/14 - 10:10 am
9
1
Let's start with an apology

Dr. Watsky, the intent of your letter is valid and helps highlight the aftermath of the impact of GRU leadership on this community. The negative reaction and response to the whole episode is primarily the result of how GRU deals with the very community you call upon to move on and support GRU. Since you are new to the area, it is understandable that you see the whole episode as a distraction, annoyance and possibly something worse, an illness that holds back the very institution you choose to serve.

Aside from the history of the Civil War, many locals of all backgrounds, have a distrust of outsiders. And with good reason. There is a deep distrust of Atlanta politicians as well as policy makers in DC making changes to our long term community assets or institutions. We are in many ways a very small town dominated by one industry: government agencies and functions. DoD, SRS, GRU and VA are all leading employers in this community. In the past several years each of these institutions has faced tremendous pressure to cut budgets and even been considered for consolidation or reduction. Thanks to a great community effort, combined with leadership in local government and within these institutions, Augusta had held its own and even managed to gain with the expansion of missions at Fort Gordon. It can take years, decades even, to build trust in the community. But it only takes a few foolish comments or actions by leaders to undue that trust.

This community lived with the name, MCG, for decades and decades. We handled the name change to GHSU and even handled the change to ASU for the old college. Over time all the signs and badges, letterhead, etc. we're changed, at no small expense. By Augusta standards that change is very recent. The community was just getting comfortable with the new names and embracing both University names. When for "budget" reasons we are told the two have to consolidate. OK, but if budgets are the reason shouldn't we be mindful of the expense involved in rebranding everything? Of course not! The simple solution would have been to create GRU as the umbrella organization for ASU and GHSU. But no, the community was invited to help chose the name as a way to get us to invest and embrace the new U. This would have worked just fine, except for GRU leadership's attitude and misleading communication. Hence, the situation you find yourself in now.

If GRU wants to move on quickly on this, your letter would have had much more meaning if it said something to the effect: "OK Augusta, we apologize for the poor leadership and partnership we provided in this consolidation episode. The fault is ours or rather Dr. Azziz', but he can't help it. Therefore please accept our heartfelt apology and let's move forward and pledge to work together to build GRU into a world class institution that is proud to call Augusta, Georgia home."

avidreader
3104
Points
avidreader 02/08/14 - 10:21 am
13
1
to Dr. Watsky

I am very proud to be a part of the Augusta community. I have a diploma from Augusta College and Augusta State University. Both are now stored in a red footlocker in my attic. I do not consider myself an alumnus of GRU and will not support this institution with my time or money.

I have spoken to MANY of the staff and faculty of the former ASU and not once have I heard a word of praise for Dr. Azziz's regime. Most simply have a go-with-the-flow attitude, while others are overtly condemning.

It is not the moniker of GRU that has driven my negativity -- it is Dr. Azziz. Hopefully, the Board of Regents will replace him and find another leader in the shape of a Moretz or Tedesco. I feel confident in saying that with a change in leadership, GRU will salvage a healthy commitment from the community and its alumni.

Amen!

RMSHEFF
15832
Points
RMSHEFF 02/08/14 - 10:59 am
8
0
Dr Azziz had many

Dr Azziz had many opportunities in the past to gain the support of this community but instead chose to become an adversary through his condescending and arrogant attitude. A good leader knows he must have the support , not only those under him but those in the community. He has lost support in this community and is not likely to regain it. For this reason alone he should put his pride aside and move on.

On a side note, I think this poorly handled issue could cost Governor Nathan Deal the support of many in the CSRA in his re-election bid.

Little Lamb
45313
Points
Little Lamb 02/08/14 - 11:21 am
8
1
Deluxe Apartment

I welcome Dr. Watsky to Augusta. I hope he will enjoy living, working, and playing here. I am glad he is "moving on up to the east side," and has finally gotten his piece of the pie.

I hope he has realized from reading the comments here that there is no "negativity" directed at the university. Instead, there is righteous indignation directed at Ricardo Azziz and Nathan Deal. The brave men and women who put their fortune and their sacred honor on the line by approaching the governor with the Save the A Campaign were hoodwinked. They approached two men honorably with a reasonable petition; but those two men indeed have no honor, and they heaped scorn on those supporting the Save the A Campaign. Hence, there is yet no joy in Mudville (that is the way Azziz sees Augusta — Mudville).

Little Lamb
45313
Points
Little Lamb 02/08/14 - 11:31 am
6
0
Triangle

You remember from Boy Scouts the "fire triangle" — how it takes fuel, oxygen, and heat to start and sustain a fire.

Well, the Grooo debacle also is the result of a triangular cabal. Sure, President Ricardo Azziz provided the hot air and Governor Nathan Deal stoked the fire with fuel, but we must not forget the third side of the triangle.

It was the vanity of the trustees of the Board of Regents that sparked the controversy with the introduction of the hideous name.

Sure, vanity is a natural part of the human psyche. It is natural, but it is not good. Vanity is a quality that comes from one of the enemies of humankind, i.e. the world. Remember St. Paul tells us that humans have three enemies that must be overcome in order to see paradise:

1. the world
2. the flesh
3. the devil

It is time for members of the Board of Regents to realize they have sinned in naming the university after themselves. Vanity, all is vanity. They should take the higher road that leads to paradise and change the hideous name into something that sounds like a real American university.

Boo on Grooo!

Junior Dawg
309
Points
Junior Dawg 02/08/14 - 11:33 am
10
1
There is one answer to the problem Dr. Watsky

Change the name to the University of Augusta! Seeing GRU all around town is making us sick, and there will never be support for the institution that turned it's back on our community....if you can't see that, then you are as dense as Azziz. University of Augusta was supported not only by the local community, but by those polled across the state and country. Look at other great institutions named after their communities and the pride they have(ex. Syracuse). The only people that disagreed with U of A was Azziz and the board of regents.

dsterling9
767
Points
dsterling9 02/08/14 - 11:37 am
10
0
GRU-A

Dr. Azziz and the Board of Regents coupled with Gov. Deal's lack of backbone to standup or direct the Board has caused distrust within the populace of Augusta. Not only have they lied to us Dr. Azziz has used his position to misuse university assets and funding. You should really research before making comments. All that had to be done was add Augusta to the name as promised! Now is that so hard.

prov227
3138
Points
prov227 02/08/14 - 11:55 am
7
0
We're already there ...

"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'm glad the writer recognizes that there were OLD levels of excellence to improve upon!

"I would ask that the community and media recognize GRU as the community jewel that it is ..."

We recognized the community jewels that MCG and AC/ASU were long before the writer arrived. As a matter of fact, the institutions have cooperated with each other for decades. They both enjoyed the good will of the community for decades. The name and the process for naming is the only change.

Is the writer the dean of the Graduate School at MCG or for both the liberal arts and business programs at old ASU and MCG's graduate programs? Confusing, huh? The letter seems a bit self-serving rather than the needed community outreach.

Veritas filia temporis.

bentman
455
Points
bentman 02/08/14 - 11:56 am
13
0
Go on back to your ivory tower

OK, Mitch. You wrote the letter just like he told you. You kissed the ring. Go on back to the ivory tower.

seenitB4
85643
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 11:59 am
7
0
Set yourself free Doc..

"The problem is all inside your head", she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

She said it's really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won't be lost or misconstrued
But I'll repeat myself, at the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 02/08/14 - 12:07 pm
2
15
Great letter

Excellent letter... The main problem with the city is the native population and not the recent transplants.. Many of the people living in this community are holding the city back.. Some of natives don't want any new growth to happen in Richmond County and they only want the suburban counties to grow... The sky is falling every day in Richmond County according to certain people..

The city of Augusta is not 'cool' if your comparing the city up against some of the peer cities(Savannah, Charleston, Greenville).

The criticism from Dr. Azziz is still much better compared to the blatant misinformation from certain natives. Dr. Azziz won't call Augusta the next Detroit simply because the number of black people..

seenitB4
85643
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 12:14 pm
12
2
countyman

and you wonder why we give you a hard time on here...,damn-with these words FROM YOU.

The main problem with the city is the native population and not the recent transplants..
Give me a FREAKING BREAK!!

The native population BUILT Augusta Ga...paid taxes--fixed roads--developed it form country roads...YOU are a problem & NOT the real Augustans..GEEZ..

seenitB4
85643
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 12:21 pm
11
1
ctyman's post-in case he changes it..

"The main problem with the city is the native population and not the recent transplants.. Many of the people living in this community are holding the city back.. Some of natives don't want any new growth to happen in Richmond County and they only want the suburban counties to grow... The sky is falling every day in Richmond County according to certain people.."

I'm surprised that ctyman can stand to live here.

Esctab
837
Points
Esctab 02/08/14 - 12:26 pm
9
1
I think Countyman is Azziz.

I think Countyman is Azziz.

RMSHEFF
15832
Points
RMSHEFF 02/08/14 - 12:36 pm
9
0
countryman

Even if one were to accept your argument as true which I do not, you must admit that from the public relations perspective Dr Azziz must have known the necessity of having the community behind him. For whatever reason he has succeeded in doing the opposite. It would have taken very little on his part to accomplish this however by poisoning the atmosphere he has made it imposable to be an effective leader of a very important part of Augusta therefore must be replaced. He has lost his ability to lead. The company I worked for learned this lesson and knew if a manager lost the respect of those he leads, regardless of the reason, for the good of the the mission he must be replaced. If Azziz stays he will fail.

Esctab
837
Points
Esctab 02/08/14 - 12:49 pm
7
0
Oh Mitch......

Mitch, I actually laughed out loud when I read your statement that says: “I do know that the negativity significantly affects GRU’s ability to attract the best and brightest students, faculty and staff.”

Oh, really Mitch? What have you been smoking?

GRU’s difficulty with attracting and retaining the best is the direct result of Azziz and his cronies. The Augusta community has a long history of supporting Augusta State University and the Medical College of Georgia. It is letters like yours that continues to do relationship harm; your letter smacks of self-serving tones and is insulting to those of us who have served these institutions for many years.

I strongly suspect that you were either directly told to write your letter or were “strongly encouraged” to do so. Just know that when your bosses decide that you are no longer useful to them, they will wipe their feet on your back and your ring kissing effort of today will not save you.

Bizkit
30742
Points
Bizkit 02/08/14 - 01:18 pm
8
0
Well Watsky what's the big

Well Watsky what's the big deal-it could be a similar scenario in your next job you will likely take 4-5 years from now when you likely leave for better pastures. It happens. But it went from two schools with some name recognition to one school with no name recognition. GRU-whatta??? Also the community has been promised "new levels of excellence" the last 30 years I've lived here. All past president have spent big bucks on "new levels of excellence"-which the school does have it's successes. But it seems no matter of success rises to the level of excellence. How circular. There is also a huge proportion of Augusta and neighboring areas population that attended either ASU or MCG and they naturally are protective of their alma maters (as most people in the world). Azziz has done nothing but insult alumni and the community and now he wants support.

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 02/08/14 - 02:34 pm
3
9
Facts

The merger could have been handle differently and Dr. Azziz should accept full responsibility for the poor decisions.. Dr. Azziz wants the city of Augusta to grow and you can't deny the ongoing/planned construction..

Seenitb4.. Why are you surprise that I can stand to live here? I don't feel the need to bash Richmond County every single day no matter the subject.. I lived in both Columbia and Richmond county before..

Please read the daily comments on the AC about Richmond County from some of the natives..

1. Augusta is the next Detroit...
2. Phinizy Swamp and Diamond Lakes will be overtaking by thugs..
3. Prostitutes and thugs are the main people walking on Broad street in the CBD..
4. The negative comments related to the outlet mall..

Are the majority of those negative comments from the transplants or natives?

Do you really honestly believe the natives who bash Richmond County(the most important county in the metro/CSRA) aren't part of what's holding Augusta back?

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 02/08/14 - 02:39 pm
7
2
"Dr. Azziz won't call Augusta
Unpublished

"Dr. Azziz won't call Augusta the next Detroit simply because the number of black people.."
countyman, the reason we call Augusta the next Detroit is because is being run by progressive democrats. When cities are run by progressive democrats, black or white, they wind up like Detroit. Why don't you save the race card for something legitimate?

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 02/08/14 - 02:44 pm
1
8
Reality

All you have to do is read the amount of negative comments surrounding the outlet mall.. A few of the people that were genuinely excited, they still felt the need to slam Richmond County(starting mentioning the downfall of Augusta mall).. Why didn't they mentioned the Aiken Mall or Mullins Crossing?

I'm 100% certain the poster Corgimom wouldn't have made the comment below or received 10 thumbs up if the outlet mall opened in Columbia/Aiken county.. The Columbia County government is the entity responsible for creating the outlet mall discussion in the first place..

''I agree with Countyman, RC has the necessary demographics for workers. Low-paying retail, part-time jobs, no high school diploma required.''

Yes, many natives are HOLDING the city of Augusta back...

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 02/08/14 - 02:49 pm
2
8
Reality not bias

Teaparty.. Do you really believe the mayor and white commissioners are progressive democrats?

Why don't you guys ever call Augusta the next Austin, Seattle, Dallas, Raleigh, Portland, etc if were ran by progressive democrats?

Little Lamb
45313
Points
Little Lamb 02/08/14 - 03:24 pm
11
0
Holding Back

Countyman posted:

Seenitb4... Do you really honestly believe the natives who bash Richmond County . . . aren't part of what's holding Augusta back?

I know you directed your question to SeenitB4 and not to me, but I hope you will consider my opinion:

No, I do not believe that the on-line comments from anonymous posters are "holding Augusta back." No, what is holding Augusta back are city politicians entering into poisonous "partnerships" with would-be businessmen (and women) who seek taxpayer funds for their capital instead of private funds. Also holding Augusta back is the transfer of persons from public housing into Section 8 housing scattered throughout neighborhoods that were once clean and safe but become trashy and unsafe when a tipping point of Section 8 renters is exceeded. Also holding Augusta back is crony capitalism favoring downtown real estate interests. Taxpayer money is transferred to private businesses who are in favor with the mayor and various commissioners. Private business owners who are not in favor with the politicians have to compete on an un-level playing field. Also holding Augusta back is the void of leadership at the top of Augusta government—and I'm talking about the past ten years under Fred (What, me worry?) Russell. Russell allowed department heads to coddle their workers. Those workers came and went as they pleased and no one held the workers accountable for doing their jobs, whether we are talking about reading water meters, patching potholes, cleaning litter, repairing vehicles in timely manner, repairing roofs of government buildings, cleaning out storm ditches and storm drain pipes, mowing grass in timely manner on city property and rights-of-way, etc.

What is holding Augusta back is a procurement department director who awards contracts based on her feelings and cronyism rather than on lowest qualified bid.

What is holding Augusta back is entering into a shadow agreement with Matt Kwatinetz whereby no taxpayer in the entire city knows what he is receiving from city government, what he is to give back in return, to whom he reports, etc.

What is holding Augusta back are the management agreements between the city and Riverfront, LLC regarding the TEE Center and the parking deck. Riverfront, LLC gets the revenue and Augusta foots the losses.

What is holding Augusta back are the dozens and dozens of "studies" that sit on shelves and receive no timely action.

What is holding Augusta back is a school board that accumulates thousands of acres of surplus property with rotting buildings on them and no plan to sell the un-needed property to the private sector.

What is holding Augusta back is this shocking modern trend to take tax money collected from citizens and give it to state institutions such as Grooo; to give it to private educational institutions such as Paine College; to give it to arts groups such as Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Augusta Mini-Theater, Imperial Theater, etc.; to give it to other non-profit organizations such as Augusta Museum of History and Laney Museum of African American History.

Our citizens are becoming anemic bleeding tax money into the veins of organizations not controlled by city government.

GnipGnop
11890
Points
GnipGnop 02/08/14 - 04:00 pm
8
0
LL

Thank you...you described my feelings perfectly.

seenitB4
85643
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 05:02 pm
8
0
Thank you LLamb

That was perfect....

We built the streets--homes--roads--factories--lawns-----parks--that countyman enjoys today....our taxes through the years made the city...no we are not holding it back....the newcomers are tearing it down...

Gage Creed
16770
Points
Gage Creed 02/08/14 - 05:04 pm
7
0
countyman will be here until

countyman will be here until he completes his assigned task of draining the very last drop of tax money available. Unless, there is a public revolt and the "natives" he so despises, send those shysters of his ilk on their way, kicking beer cans and mumbling to themselves.

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