Indulge me this fantasy news lead that is only the tiniest bit funny because it could so easily happen tomorrow:
“The medical world was stunned today when Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz announced that, after years of hard work and research, the institution had indeed discovered the cures for all cancer, the common cold and male pattern baldness. On his way to the podium to make this momentous announcement, Dr. Azziz inexplicably slapped three elderly women, sucker punched two wheelchair-bound war veterans and fatally kicked a puppy.”
The man simply has no clue.
Less than one week after the CSRA welcomes news that GRU wants to make the largest single capital investment in the history of Columbia County, we get confirmation that his promise to throw locals a bone concerning the “Save the A” name campaign had the real-life value of Hollywood marriage vows. There is no “Augusta” to be seen on the new campus signage. Not here, not there, not anywhere.
Why? Why? WHY?
The man won the battle over the name. My side (and 98 percent of the rest of you) lost that argument, and I have accepted that, for now. But at the end of the discussion, promises were made and consolations pledged that would have seen the name “Augusta” remain at least somewhat attached to our hometown institution. At least that was language they used on their own website in November, 2012:
“Georgia Regents University Augusta will be the brand name used in the official logo and in marketing efforts of Augusta’s new consolidated university.
Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz and Save the A campaign members Nick Evans and Barry Storey announced on Thursday, October 25, that an agreement has been reached regarding the name that would be included in the official logo and all branding materials used for the new university moving forward. The announcement follows discussions between the parties. The new university is being created through the consolidation of GHSU and Augusta State University.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that enables us to prominently incorporate ‘Augusta’ in the official logo and branding of our new university,” said Azziz, who will head the consolidated university. “The agreement allows us to highlight the importance of the city in our academic, clinical, research and athletic programs, while ensuring the people of Georgia recognize our state-wide role.”
But apparently folks, they really didn’t mean it. At least that is what one official had to say, as quoted in the Augusta Chronicle Tuesday:
“David Brond, GRU’s senior vice president of communications and marketing, said the staff decided it would make more sense to have the university’s official name on the gateways to the school; that would eliminate confusion for visitors and stay consistent with branding guidelines.
“The final signage that is being placed as we speak on the campuses now has been tweaked, yes, from what we were sharing, but those were conceptual ideas,” Brond said.
I feel for David Brond, I really do. The role of trying to make sense of this situation has become a job that is part “Baghdad Bob,” part Joseph Goebbels and part elephant poop wrangler for the Ringling Brothers Circus. Talk about a guy tasked to do the impossible, and that is to make the leadership decisions involving this name debacle seem earnest and defensible. They are not, nor will they ever be. Poor guy. I just hope when Azziz does finally decided to leave Augusta we don’t find Brond burned up in a shell crater somewhere. (However, Baghdad Brond does have a ring to it…)
Folks, we need to emphasize the false hope they gave us, the mere crumbs they offered us in the face of sheer and utter defeat. A pittance that was promised, yet yanked away for no reason that makes sense to anyone outside their own bizarre circle. Again, from their own website, but using the words of the leaders of the “Save the A” effort, and the university system’s Grand Poo-Bah to soothe our disappointment:
“Throughout this process, ensuring the recognition of this community in the name used for this new university has been our top priority,” Nick Evans said. “Augusta’s new university now will have an official logo and look that recognizes our city, which will do much to ensure its national and global appeal.”
“I am very supportive of this agreement which not only highlights the broad state-wide mission that the consolidated university will have, but also allows us to recognize the value of the Augusta community in the new university,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby.
“Augustans can take pride in their new university,” Barry Storey said. “With this agreement it is my hope and expectation that the community will rally around the consolidation to ensure the success of our students and the state of Georgia.”
But as they tell us it was all just “a concept,” as they attempt to sell us yet another pack of lies worthy of Professor Harold Hill, Lucy Van Pelt and the entire staff of Governor Chris Christie, let them hang by their own words, twisting in the wind that will one day blow their stink out of our city:
“The new university will adopt the use of the name Georgia Regents University Augusta in its official logo and its branding efforts following approval of the consolidation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents…”
Dr. Azziz is indeed a force to be reckoned with. He is the only guy I know who could screw up Christmas.