It’s not Georgia Regents University anymore.
It’s not Augusta State University or Augusta College, either.
It’s definitely not Georgia Health Sciences University.
And it’s not the University of Augusta like many had anticipated.
Introducing… Augusta University.
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia unanimously voted Tuesday to officially change Georgia Regents University’s name to Augusta University.
During a brief presentation to the Board of Regents in Atlanta, Chancellor Henry “Hank” Huckaby said it was time for the university, with a new name, to move forward under the positive leadership of President Brooks Keel.
“We have already seen tremendous opportunity for growth and development of this university as a world-class research institution under his leadership,” Huckaby said, referring to Keel. “The board has been reviewing the strategic direction of this university and the ways that we can build on the positive momentum that President Brooks (Keel) is bringing to the institution already. After consulting with members of the board and President Brooks (Keel), I would like to recommend to the board that the name of the institution be changed to Augusta University.”
This change would again unite all of the Augusta community with this historic college, Huckaby said.
“The board is aware that there are members of the Augusta community that have long desired a name change,” he said. “With the momentum we have under President Brooks (Keel), at this point, the new name supports a strategic plan for the institution and helps solidify our partnership with the Augusta community.”
“We, the staff, are committed to the long-term success of this institution and I encourage the Augusta community to focus on this rare opportunity to nurture the growth of a relatively new research institution as a hometown partner between the university and the Board of Regents and the staff here,” Huckaby said.
Without any discussion, the Board of Regents unanimously approved changing GRU’s name to Augusta University.
The name change was effective immediately.
This vote was a complete reversal from the Board of Regents’ decision in 2012 to rename the merged colleges of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University to Georgia Regents University.
The GRU name caused a great deal of controversy throughout the Augusta community and eventually sparked the local “Save the A” campaign to pressure then GRU President Ricardo Azziz and Huckaby to add Augusta back into university’s name.
“What this vote shows is that you have the strong support of this board as we move forward,” Pruitt told Keel, adding that he also wanted to thank Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal for his continued support.
Following the approval of the name change, Keel told the Board of Regents that, as a native Augustan, he strongly believed that renaming the university would help the institution move in the right direction.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t take just a very small amount of time to say thank you for the courage that you have demonstrated in causing this merger to take place,” Keel said. “I don’t know of any other state in the union that has done that sort of thing. And what has resulted is an opportunity for us to have a world-class university in the city of Augusta that is going to do great things, not only for the education of our young people, but for the state in general.”
“Being born and raised in Augusta, and having graduated from both of the two institutions that have now formed this one university, it has become apparent to me that Georgia Regents University or Augusta University cannot become the university that it can and should become without the complete and total support of the partnership we have with the city of Augusta and the community,” Keel said. “And I am fully convinced and firmly believe that the action that you are taking today will help us establish that strong partnership that is going to make this great university even greater and it is going to make the city of Augusta even greater as well.”
Just minutes after addressing the Board of Regents, Keel released a statement to the staff and students of the newly named Augusta University celebrating the change.
In his letter to the university, he called the name change “exciting news.”
“While this change will necessitate adjustments across our university and health system community — a community that has faced a number of significant transitions in recent years — it is also recognition of the critical partnership that exists between our institution and our local community,” Keel wrote. “The energy and enthusiasm generated by this partnership will be instrumental as we build our reputation as a national leader in teaching, research, health care and service.”
Keel insisted that he was “more convinced than ever” that the university has a very bright future ahead of it.
“No doubt there will be many questions,” Keel wrote, “and we will work hard to engage our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends as we develop the answers.”