Tuesday, September 15, 2015


In the parish, Catholics who are for the poor complain bitterly when money is spent on beautiful things, like churches, vestments and other things.

But so few complain about big businesses building lavish sky scrapers, malls building all kinds of stores, and so on and so on.

This brings me to my alma mater! I graduated from Augusta College in 1977. Later it was named Augusta State University. Then the Medical College of Georgia, a separate public university, underwent a few name changes and then the two universities were merged into one about three years ago and a new, very controversial name was given it, Georgia Regent's University.

There were howls of protest over it and now with a new president from Augusta, the name was changed immediately starting today to AUGUSTA UNIVERSITY!

What name do I use as an alumnus is all I ask!!!!!!??????

Here's the story in the Augusta Chronicle and the cost for signage changes and other things:

Regents make it Augusta University

ATLANTA - It took three years but one of the most popular choices for a consolidated school now graces Augusta’s hometown college.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted this morning to rename the school from Georgia Regents University to Augusta University, changing a name that angered residents and alumni alike, replacing it with one of the top choices from a $45,500 survey the school paid for prior to the original vote in 2012. The vote was unanimous with no discussion, The name change is effective immediately.

“The new name Augusta University builds on the momentum we have with President Brooks Keel’s leadership,” Chancellor Hank Huckaby said. “We are committed to the long-term success of this institution and appreciate the support of the Augusta community.”

Huckaby said Augusta civic leaders promised to raise funds to pay for the sign changes. The university spent $3.8 million to replace all of the previous signs from the schools that created the consolidated college of Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities, as well as the signage for the school’s health system.

“We’re convinced that this will allow us to strengthen that partnership with the city, allow us to rally the entire community behind this university in ways in which we could never have done before and I’m convinced that we’ll be able to use this as a springboard to have a number of campaigns around capital funds and philanthropic issues that is going to bring resources into the university that far exceed the operational costs of changing the name,” Keel said.

While there had been conversations about the name of the university for a long time, when he became president in July it gained momentum, he said.

“Any time you have a presidential transition and a new president comes in it provides an opportunity to look at a number of initiatives that you might want to either start or change as you are moving ahead,” Keel said. “It’s obviously been talked about for a while now and I think some of the conversations were invigorated after I became president.”

Any time there is a consolidation it is “natural” for some alumni to feel differently about their alma mater, he said.

“I think the issue of the name served to further alienate some members of our alumni, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Keel said. “I think it has in some ways alienated the community of Augusta.”

The name change will bring back “tens of thousands of alumni” from both institutions who had shied away from providing financial support to GRU, said Nick Evans, a leader in the Save the A movement that campaigned to put Augusta back in the name of the university for the last three years. Credit should also go to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal for the change, Evans said.

“(Deal) has been the best governor for Augusta and for our community ever,” he said. Keel praised Deal’s support for the university and for Augusta and said whatever role he played in the decision “will be between him and the Board of Regents.”

There is research to support the name change. In the 2012 study of both Georgia residents and a national survey, Augusta University was one of the top choices in every panel, finishing second to University of Augusta. Addressing questions that people would not know where Augusta is, 96 percent in Georgia and 74 percent nationally correctly placed it in Georgia. Only 6.4 percent said Maine and 1.7 percent said Kansas, according to the study.

The original vote came despite the threat of a lawsuit from Regent University in Virginia, which was later settled, and despite immediate howls of protest. Frustration with the name coalesced into that Save the A campaign led by prominent business leaders like Evans to rename the school University of Augusta. That later led to a compromise by school officials to use Georgia Regents University Augusta on all merchandise and signs but the name was not legally changed, until today.

“I like it,” said Georgia Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, about the new name. “Our challenge will continue to be developing the medical college and the university as a national institution.”

Medical College of Georgia, one of the original names of the institution founded in 1828, is still the name of the medical school at the university.

What name the health system will bear will be decided by the boards that govern the medical center and health system, which Keel chairs, he said. Those boards have yet to weigh in on the matter but should be meeting in the coming weeks to discuss the matter, Keel said. From his standpoint, Augusta University also is a good fit.

“I think it makes great sense to go with AU because it allows us to market not only the educational aspects of the university but equally as important to that is the health system aspects of what we do,” Keel said. “A key piece of our educational mission is medical, dental, nursing and allied health. A key piece of our whole service mission is in patient care.”

Some discussions about changing the name have already started but he wants faculty, staff and students to weigh in, which they will have the change to do in coming weeks, Keel said. Former President Ricardo Azziz campaigned in 2010 to change the name of the school from MCG to GHSU, which was then consolidated with ASU to create GRU, which has now been changed for the fourth time in five years.

“One thing to think about, for good or bad, this university has had an opportunity to go through several name changes,” Keel said. “We’re kind of old pros about this and we’ve learned some things in the past about how to do this.”

The naming decision will affect a “handful” of wayfinding signs around the city and in the Medical District, said Jennifer Bowen, vice president of destination development for the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau. The hospitals paid for the signs themselves so it is “likely” they will have to pay for any replacements, she said.

The name Georgia Regents University and the consolidation of Georgia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities has seen its ups and downs.

January 2012 - Rumors surface that eight universities in the University System of Georgia would be merged together, including GHSU and ASU. Then-GHSU President Ricardo Azziz is chosen to lead the merged school. The name of the new school quickly becomes a major issue, with a separate committee taking suggestions.

June 2012 - The A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research at Kennesaw State University is hired to do polling on the potential names. The survey of 400 people in Georgia and more than 460 nationwide found University of Augusta to be the “most popular” according to the study. Georgia Regents University is included in two panels and ranks no better than fourth.

June 27, 2012 - The working committee on the name presents six finalists, including University of Augusta and for the first time publicly reveals the name Georgia Regents University.

Aug. 7, 2012 - The university system’s Board of Regents picks GRU out of three finalists despite a threat of litigation from Regent University in Virginia and despite an immediate protest movement from students, alumni and people in Augusta.

September 2012 - Regent University files a trademark infringement lawsuit over the GRU name.

September 2012 - The Save the A campaign, which includes several prominent Augustans, starts a petition campaign asking Gov. Nathan Deal and Chancellor Hank Huckaby to change the name to University of Augusta. The campaign also includes yard signs and bumper stickers that begin to appear all over Augusta.

Oct. 25, 2012 - Save the A leaders meet with Azziz and emerge with a compromise that Augusta will be added to the name in all marketing and merchandise but the name will not be legally changed.

June 2013 - The university system and regents reach a compromise settlement that allows GRU to continue using the name, which a university system spokesman said did not include any money.

Sept. 15, 2015 - The University System of Georgia Board of Regents votes to rename the school from Georgia Regents University to Augusta University.


Lefebvrian said...

Spending money on nice things for the Church does not mean that money is being taken out of a poor person's pocket. If people want alms given to the poor, then they should give alms to the poor. This is not an either-or dilemma.

Calvin of Hippo said...

George Washington threw a silver dollar across the Potomac and chopped down a cherry tree and, ever since, politicians have been throwing billions of dollars across the oceans and destroying everything in their path. Some precedent.

potamus of hippo said...

What grade are you in now, Calvin. Junior high, I bet.

Anonymous said...

Holy Moly... Somebody at GRU HEALTH SCIENCES, aka Medical College of Georgia, aka............ Needs to schedule Neurology and Psychiatry appointments for each USG Board of Regents member. Maybe give 'em a discount so they'll show up in Augusta? I know many people who would love to be there...

qwikness said...

Macon Junior College, Macon College, Macon State College, Middle Georgia State College, and now Middle Georgia State University. I just say Macon State.

Anonymous said...

I sorta like "Macon Junior Middle State Georgia College University and Diploma Mill." Has a nice ring to it.