Back in January, the pending merger of Georgia Health Sciences University and Augusta State University was still a somewhat novel idea. Area residents discussing the topic mostly focused on possible names for the new institution, like an engaged couple discussing caterers and cakes.
At that time, I worried that we were talking too much about the names, and too little about what the marriage of the universities would become.
Here we are eight months later, and that’s still true. Except now no one is talking about anything but the name, thanks to a gang of tin-eared, concrete-skulled bureaucratic home-wreckers.
The only thing more amazing than the breathtakingly idiotic name the Georgia Board of Regents intends to hang on our community’s largest educational institution is that it’s taken this long for citizens to finally say “enough.”
It all started when Dr. Ricardo Azziz took over as the new president of the Medical College of Georgia in July 2010. Barely a month later, he started pushing to change MCG’s name.
I’m not sure whether that was audacious or arrogant, but I know which way I’m leaning. It’s unfathomable to think of someone taking a new job at such a venerable institution, and then immediately working to change its name. It makes me think of a guy getting married, and on the way out of the church telling his bride to bleach her hair because he’d rather have a blonde wife.
Azziz should have been told, “You were hired to run the Medical College of Georgia. If you want to be in charge of something called Georgia Health Sciences University, go rent a building.”
Instead, despite the convoluted name, we put up with it – along with the cost for changing signs and stationery. Then comes the planned takeover of Augusta State University, called a “merger” even though the ASU president didn’t come with the package.
And now we hear Azziz was personally involved in creating this Frankenstein’s monster of a name for the merged institution. He can’t fathom why anyone is upset about it.
I’m absolutely certain that Azziz is a community asset and has the vision to create a university greater than its individual, cobbled-together parts. But it also appears he’s far too unaccustomed to being told “no,” even when he’s behind such a monumentally horrible idea as the name “Georgia Regents University.”
In fact, the only time he hasn’t gotten his way – yet – was in his failed attempt to shut down a city street just because motorists have the nerve to drive through his campus.
No community institution can thrive without the support of its community. Just like a good marriage, there has to be genuine affection, mutual respect and shared goals. We’ve lost that, because Azziz and the royal regents are tone deaf to the demeaning insult of the name they want us to meekly accept.
Well, enough. We’ve tried bleaching our hair, getting plastic surgery and losing weight, but we still aren’t “cool” enough. It’s time to file for divorce and get our maiden name back.
We can celebrate with a trip to Clarks Hill Lake.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/