Stop bickering and embrace new university

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A great deal of attention has been directed toward the decision of the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents to rename universities in Augusta.

Proud citizens have united to express to the Board of Regents and Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz their displeasure with the new name of the school created by the merging of the former Medical College of Georgia and Augusta State University. Central to the expressed concerns is the absence of “Augusta” in the new name. The decision to go with a name that was not among the preferred ones identified by study groups has offended many.

The Augusta Chronicle has taken up the cause, correctly reporting that evidence of “Augusta State University” has been digitally removed from important photographs marking achievements by the university. (To his credit, Dr. Azziz has addressed this matter in an open letter, accepting responsibility for the error.)

AS I DRIVE through Augusta neighborhoods, I note that several “Save the A” yard signs remain from the citizens’ campaign.

My attachment to Augusta is very deep. I have been witness to many events here – both positive and not-so-positive – over the years. I am proud of the work my husband, the late U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, did on behalf of our community. I’m confident that Charlie is remembered as “the congressman from Augusta.”

Lingering on past disappointments constrains the healthy development of the future Augusta. I want us to bind our wounds, and to come together as a citizenry.

Just as Helen Blocker-Adams stated in her thoughtful column discussing racial healing and recovery (“Augusta can move forward – but only after hearts are healed,” March 3), I believe, “(w)hen we reflect on events of yesterday, we recognize that we can’t change what happened, even though we may want to.” Ms. Blocker-Adams continues, “Think about it: In some ways Augusta is prospering, but in other cases we are leading statistics all over the state in poverty, high-school dropout rates, incarceration, HIV/AIDS and homelessness.”

We are subjected daily to a negative portrayal of loyal opposition, and no one is benefitting. This truth applies to all unpleasantness concerning the name of our new university.

It is of critical importance that we not lose sight of three very important considerations in this matter:

• Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and our state leaders believe so strongly in Augusta that they have invested $100 million specifically in Georgia Regents University.

• Georgia’s 2014 state budget has more than $60 million allocated to build a cancer research center in Augusta.

• Augusta will be Georgia’s hub for medical education, research and innovation, led by the highly-qualified Dr. Azziz and likewise qualified administration and faculty.

We tout ourselves as Georgia’s second-largest metropolis – and by some measurements we are – but Augusta is also a first-rate place to live:

• Augusta offers easy access to goods and services to its citizens.

• Augusta is recognized as a
place where housing and quality of life are among the most-affordable
in our nation.

• Augusta is known internationally for its golf tournament, but it is appreciated locally for its friendly people, lovely neighborhoods, diverse natural beauty, excellent roads and its lively-yet-intimate downtown’s shops, restaurants and entertainment.

WE ARE THE stewards of a unique balance of lifestyle opportunities. Manufacturing, military, cultural, scientific and scholarly enterprises all flourish in our community. This cannot be said of most cities the size of Augusta. Please ponder this: Augusta’s academic infrastructure is regionally prominent. It is a very important part of who we are.

Augusta faces challenges. Mistakes have been made in the process of combining the two universities: human error; oversight; misinterpretations of decisions. However, many very good decisions have moved this huge endeavor forward. As a community, we must move beyond constant criticism, and stop being our own worst enemy.

To assure that Augusta has one of the national top-50 research institutions that Gov. Deal and the Board of Regents envision, it is appropriate that we move beyond bickering over the name.

Community leaders, political leaders and educational leaders must develop GRU as a vital entity, and deliver to our children and grandchildren a flourishing institution that is woven into the very fiber of our community. Growing regional unity always is our prime directive.

(The writer is the widow of Rep. Charlie Norwood, who represented the Augusta area’s District 10 in the U.S. House of Representatives.)

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KSL 03/17/13 - 01:08 am
Huge mistakes have been made.

Huge mistakes have been made.

hwduncan 03/17/13 - 05:02 am
Stop Trying to Hold Back The Hands of The Clock

All the energy and time focused on undoing what cannot be undone, pillorying the actors attempting to combine these two important institutions, and trying to gain temporay advantage for political, monetary or egoistic advantage is wasted. Stop trying to hold back the hands of the clock. It will tear your arms out!

Truth Matters
Truth Matters 03/17/13 - 08:02 am

I hope we all stop and consider the image we portray to those who read about us before making a decision to attend school here, work here, and raise a family here. Seeing a conspiracy or a slight in every action is not healthy.

Thank you, Mrs. Norwood for saying what all our leaders need to say. This community can make lemonade out of this if we determine to do so. Finally, consider the lesson we can teach our children. We don't always get what we think is right or fair, but we are still in control of how we deal with adversity.

There is no one in this state who does not know how this community feels. Now that they know, let's show them who we are by going from "good to great!"

seenitB4 03/17/13 - 08:58 am
If only it were that easy to do...

A divorce comes from deep hurt...that is what Augusta feels...a deep takes time to move on ....we shall see.

deestafford 03/17/13 - 09:15 am
With all due respect to Mrs Norwood

what has been done can be undone. If that were not true legislation would never be passed to undo some piece of legislation that did not do what it was supposed to do. (Sadly to say, not enough of this "undoing" legislation is being passed.)
Notice all the emphasis on the money received from the state has been in the medical field. ASU is being treated as an after thought, red headed stepchild. Recall that one of the prominent previous ASU golfers said he would never have come to Augusta if "Augusta" were not in the name of the university when he was being recruited because it gave him a feeling of legitimacy. The bottom line is the name "Augusta" means something and is something the community has ties to and around which it can rally. To ask the community to rally around "GRU" maybe asking too much.

Jane18 03/17/13 - 10:11 am
Sorry, Mrs. Norwood................

Your letter is........spoken just like a politician, or a politician's wife! I do not live in Augusta, but, I certainly do understand how most Augustans and alumna feel betrayed!

Tyler-Ray_Daddy 03/17/13 - 10:20 am
Totally Disagree - Don't Ever Give Up

With all due respect to those who desire to cave in and once again permit those in higher places to coerce their way upon us; I totally disagree with embracing the change and accepting it. This consolidation should never have happened and should be reversed. The two universities have nothing in common and it is better for each to exist separately. I am of the belief this consolidation is nothing more than a back-door approach for Azziz and his cronies to eventually phase out ASU's current curriculum so as to take over the physical grounds (campus) of ASU to expand MCG. The political tactics remind me of a certain presidential administration's Chicago style in the way they attempt and do force their rulings down others throats.

crkgrdn 03/17/13 - 06:54 pm
The deep hurt

So, tradition and history and what is meaningful can by fiat be swept away.
We did not ask for this, nor were we asked if we wanted this revocation of what we hold most dear.

Ms. Norwood do not lecture us. Your remarks are Liberally laced with Washington Fever.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/17/13 - 03:10 pm
Come Together

Gloria Norwood wrote:

I want us . . . to come together as a citizenry.

Excuse me, but the citizens of Augusta have come together over the merged university's hideous new name. Coming together does not get anything done. Ask John Lennon.

Fiat_Lux 03/17/13 - 05:24 pm
Kindly refer to Dr. Kenny's total cogent letter.

She gets it, even if she thinks students from Augusta must be only the bright ones, with perhaps a small "cohort of the disadvantaged" if the financial resources are made available to support them academically well enough to make it worth the trouble.

And Little Lamb has it exactly right. Augusta did come together on this name thing, even if that wasn't the most important stumble.

The far more devastating impact has been the wholesale alienation and disenfranchisement of the faculty and staff.

concernmom 03/17/13 - 07:53 pm
With all due respect...

I'm sorry Mrs. Norwood, but this is an Augusta matter of pride, heritage and tradition. You obviously have no loved ones who graduated from either ASU or MCG. Not ONE person I know wanted Dr. Azziz's vision for our city. With all due respect..your political correctness is nauseating.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/18/13 - 12:20 am
Faculty and Staff

Though I am not faculty, I am not staff, I am not student body of the merged university; I have felt the frustration, the marginalization, the disillusionment, and the disappointment of those in the trenches of GHSU and ASU. I'm sorry, folks, but Grooo won’t dooo, and Azziz must leezze.

NrthAugustaSam 03/19/13 - 12:46 pm

When will the governor get it? Get Azziz out of here!

Darby 03/20/13 - 04:04 pm
" Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal...

and our state leaders believe so strongly in Augusta that they have invested $100 million specifically in Georgia Regents University"
So am I to understand that Augusta should take the money that Deal and the others left on the nightstand, and go looking for another trick?

To me, the message she proffers is nothing like the Charlie Norwood I knew would be supporting.

I'm getting this visual of Deal and company approaching Mrs. Norwood, hat in hand and saying, "Gloria, we've got a little brush fire in Augusta. Do you think you can help us put it out before if gets out of hand?"

SemperParatus 03/19/13 - 04:49 pm

There seems to be a major disconnect between the letters of Mrs Norwood and Dr Kenny, former acting president of ASU. To hear Norwood tell it, the money is in the bank for the upcoming changes while Kenny was clear to say this was not the case! Mrs Norwod, did you by chance read the seven page letter that Dr Kenny wrote to Ricardo? And you are willing to stake your husband's good name on your comment calling Ricardo "highly qualified"? What, may I ask is he highly qualified to do? He is a research doctor and has very little experience in administration. He has poor leadership skills. Inadequate people skills. Frankly, Ricardo could not operate a convenience store successfully, let alone a multimillion dollar university. Speaking of money, what did it cost the taxpayers to rename the VA hospitals after Norwood? Does anyone remember? Honestly, I never did understand that move. Charlie Norwood was a dentist. If the government just had to spend money, wouldn't it have been more appropriate to have renamed the dental school after him? Of course Ricardo would have eventually changed that too!

jbartley 03/20/13 - 09:29 pm
Hiding in the closet

I think Michael Shaffer Chief Advocacy Officer for the Georgia Health Sciences Enterprise helped write the letter for Mrs. Norwood. He used to work for Charlie while he was a Congressman and now he is handling PR for Azziz’s .

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