Azziz misjudged GRU decision 'by a mile'

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(Editor’s note: The following column, originally posted on the writer’s Facebook page as an open letter to Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz, was submitted to The Augusta Chronicle with the writer’s permission.)

I have been following with much interest the consolidation of Georgia Health Sciences University and Augusta State University, and the renaming process of the new school. I must admit up-front that I was not satisfied with either the prior name change – to GHSU from the Medical College of Georgia – or this one. However, I genuinely felt that calls for your job were premature and perhaps vindictive. I have a family and a career as well; I understand.

I FOUND THE email you wrote to the “branding team” of some interest as well. In it you asked GHSU Senior Vice President Susan Barcus and the others to consider how many Research I universities – schools engaged in extensive research activity – are named for cities of fewer than a million people. I thought about that, too.

Then I researched the matter.

Using the criteria set forth in the email, I found several examples of institutions your email implied scarcely, if ever, exist. The most recent year I could find is 2010. Those lists don’t change much; I looked at several. To name just a few:

• University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

• University of Wisconsin-Madison

• Princeton University

• Stanford University

• University of California-Berkeley

• University of California-Davis

You get the idea.

Sir, with all due respect, I think you misjudged this one by a mile. I respect your stated goal of seeing my alma mater become a top research university. I have the same goal. Had you gone to the people of Augusta and the state of Georgia (with my above-mentioned list as supportive evidence in late April) – with both still awash in the afterglow of University of Georgia graduate Bubba Watson’s Masters Tournament victory – and suggested we charge ahead together as “the University of Georgia at Augusta,” they would probably put a bust of your likeness in the Greenblatt Library.

BUT YOU HAVE publicly displayed confidence in the name “Georgia Regents University” as the banner we should all move forward under to land on such a list. Anyone with the Internet and 15 minutes can find the research I found.

Now that the email is out there – and the criteria you used to convince the branding team that Augusta, proud and gracious host of our school for almost 200 years, ought not share in the naming honors; and, should you continue to press forward with your public support for the name Georgia Regents University – I would suggest having an explanation of how “Georgia Regents University,” and those I listed, will populate that list in the future, but why “University of Georgia-Augusta” never, ever could under that banner.

I would suggest having an answer for that inevitable query other than spending money on “branding.” The branding already is there all around you, sir. It’s already there for free.

NOW, IF YOU think the Board of Regents might change their mind yet, and everyone does not have renaming fatigue, take my idea and run with it. Take credit for it yourself. This one’s on me. I’m sure it’s not lost on you that an awful lot of people have bees in their bonnets over the eventual outcome of the new renaming. Mine is an easy sell – something for everyone. It is called “university” – that was important to you. It is called “Georgia” – that is important to Georgians. It is called “Augusta” – that is important to Augustans.

And my school there will always be called MCG – and I sincerely appreciated the compromise on that in the renaming two years ago. That is important to me.

Alternatively, you can stick to your guns on the name you picked. How’s that working out for you, sir?

(The writer is a Macon internist and a 1997 graduate of the Medical College of Georgia.)

Comments (12)

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/01/12 - 11:04 pm
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M.D. and Marcus

It's because neither ASU or GHSU are part of UGA. We could just as well be GA Tech Augusta, etc. But the best solution is to name the umbrella institution GRU if you want, but let the individual institutions keep their names....ASU and MCG (or GHSU). Dr. Azziz saves face and we are happy because rarely will the GRU name come into play.

rebellious
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rebellious 09/01/12 - 11:42 pm
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Riverman I agree

Even though they have consolidated Administratively, they will always be separate campuses, due to geographic location. Unless Dr. Azziz can figure out how to purchase the slope between the valley (15th street campus) and the hill. I want to say that is impossible, but as i age I am learning not to do so. It really is open to a workable compromise, were parties willing to. However, as the biblical saying goes "Pride goeth before the fall" But then again, fall is just around the corner isn't it.

MadeinAmerica
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MadeinAmerica 09/02/12 - 10:59 am
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The state of GA does not name

The state of GA does not name its universities with the UGA-town approach like is done in SC, NC, etc. So, names like UNC-Chapel Hill or UC-Berkely are not relevant to this situation. Also, Stanford and Princeton are, to my understanding, college "towns" that are only well known because of the school. Stanford is actually officially desigated as a census-designated place (cdp) rather than a city and is only 2.8 sq miles in size. Ultimately, I am not aware of any university that is named just for a city (such as Univ of Augusta) that is ranked above a state-named school in that state (such as UGA). Thus, Univ of Miami is not ranked above Univ of Florida; Univ of Louisville is not ranked above UK; Univ of Cincinatti is not ranked above Ohio State, etc. If this is to be a top 50 research Univ, why handcuff yourself with a city name instead of a state name?

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/02/12 - 02:01 pm
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Stanford

The good doctor's heart is in the right place and his letter has merit. However, he needs to take Stanford off his list. Stanford University is named after the son of the university's chief benefactor, Leland Stanford. The son (Stanford's only child) died from disease as a teenager. Sure, there is a post office named Stanford where mail to the university goes. But if you go visit the University you will see that it is most closely associated with Palo Alto, CA.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/02/12 - 02:07 pm
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Wrong, RM

Riverman1 posted:

But the best solution is to name the umbrella institution GRU if you want, but let the individual institutions keep their names.

Sorry, RM, but I cannot back you on this one. Frankly, I don't care whether the merged university contains the name Augusta or not; but I am embarrassed, offended, appalled, and angered by the very word regents. Dr. Azziz came up with this name late in the game, and he cunningly offered it to the members of the Board of Regents to appeal to their vanity, their egos, their narcissism, and their belief in their own superiority over us common citizens of Georgia.

The Regents have named the university located in Augusta after themselves! How arrogant and condescending can you get?

No, name the university what you will, but do away with the hideous word regents.

Fiat_Lux
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Fiat_Lux 09/02/12 - 04:41 pm
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Riverman, it wouldn't work that way at all

Just as having GHSU as the current umbrella with MCG as the school of medicine, the new identity would be GRU, just as GHSU is now, not MCG. I work for MCG SOM and I know quite well what it has taken to get all that dealt with. Signage is about the smallest part of it.

The FDA, NIH, NCI and every other entity with which our school relates on an official level have finally all changed our official identification from MCG to GHSU. MCG only shows up on letterheads and degrees, under the banner of GHSU. It's quite sad, actually.

I had to call a colleague at an institution on the west coast last week and as I identified myself and reason for calling, I told him that we used to be MCG, have been GHSU for a little while, but that I don't really know who we are at this very moment. That about covers it for a very large percentage of us these days.

I just hope Azziz wakes up before it's too late, if it isn't already. If he doesn't take corrective action, it can only be for one of two reasons: Either he isn't planning to stay much longer and doesn't care what kind of mess he would leave in his wake, or he's as dumb as a hammer.

I'm just glad my degree has Medical College of Georgia on it.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/02/12 - 09:25 pm
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Qualifications

Let us remember that the only qualifications the members of the Board of Regents have is that they contributed to the governor's campaign fund with boucoup dineros. They have no advanced degrees in education, business, science, engineering, medicine, sociology, fine arts, etc. They are narcissists, one and all. The regents name must go.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/02/12 - 09:30 pm
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Handcuffs

MadeinAmerica asked:

If this is to be a top 50 research Univ, why handcuff yourself with a city name instead of a state name?

Why handcuff yourself with a university named after a bunch of political hacks who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Governor Deal's election campaign, and who will be expected to give even more to his re-election campaign?

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/02/12 - 09:47 pm
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Mothers of Invention

Frank Zappa composed and sang a song entitled, “Brown Shoes Don't Make it.”

Neither does “Groo U.”

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/02/12 - 10:28 pm
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Guys, I don't like GRU, but I

Guys, I don't like GRU, but I only propose keeing ASU and MCG under the umbrella name as a way to keep our honored names. GRU can be delegated to something like "A University System of Georgia" school.

Made in America, just because a school is named after a city it doesn't mean it has to outdo the best schools in the state. It may happen and it may not happen. The name has absolutely nothing to do with that goal. However from this link you can find many top ranked colleges using their city name in the college name. Matter of fact The University of Chicago is ranked number 4 nationwide.
http://www.forbes.com/top-colleges/list/#page:1_sort:0_direction:asc_sea...

CryoCyberTronics
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CryoCyberTronics 09/03/12 - 12:52 am
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Logical explanation of university renaming missed by commenters

The person that made the frost comment iny option need to do more research about how university system are named in each state. It is also very easy to see that, that person is a female trying to pass theirself off as a male. As fro everyone else so for to comment on the e-mail post if you can't see the value in the name The University of Georgia - Augusta 'UR lost in space and time.

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