Imagine if the powers-that-be in Columbia decided to save money by merging USC-Aiken and Aiken Technical College. That’s an idea that would take a little getting used to, but if it meant a better program for students the public would support it. Now the combined school needs a new name that reflects the combined institutions.
So, the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees, which gets to have the final say on the new name, opts to remove the word “Aiken” in the name and the consolidated institution is named South Carolina Trustees University. It wouldn’t go down any worse if they spelled it “trusty,” which is an inmate given special privileges for good behavior.
That’s exactly what happened on Tuesday. The Georgia Board of Regents decided to name the consolidated Augusta State University and Georgia Health and Sciences University the ridiculous Georgia Regents University.
The uproar could be heard for miles and we don’t think it will die down anytime soon. While the two schools are across the river, they, especially the medical school’s hospital, are part of the identity of the Aiken-Augusta area.
The Regent’s decision reeks of arrogance and ignores the community that has graciously and enthusasticly supported both schools for decades.
Regent Tommy Hopkins told The Augusta Chronicle that “This university is more and bigger than Augusta.” To continue the expected growth, “this university needs to be marketed as more than Augusta. We need a name that donors from throughout Georgia can support and not feel they are abandoning their local colleges and universities.”
Did you really mean to say that Mr. Hopkins? Please give the good citizens of Georgia, and across the country, more credit than that.
As many have pointed out, the name of the Augusta National has served one of the world’s most famous golf courses for nearly 100 years just fine. Do the members of the Augusta National – who happen to be some of richest and most powerful men in the country – have a problem being associated with the city on the river? Of course not.
The overwhelmingly most popular name was University of Augusta. That’s a strong name befitting a major university. It kept the identity of the community that has supported it for decades.
The students, faculty and staff of the new university will eventually accept the name, as will most who live in the Aiken-Augusta area.
But as the merger gets closer there won’t be the celebration and support there could have been. That’s sad. Instead of support for what the university could become, there will be tacit acceptance.
Georgia Regents, or GRU, will never have the identity that the University of Augusta would have had. It’s just another poorly named university, not to be confused with Regent University in Virginia, which is mainly an online college founded in 1978 by Pat Robertson.
Regent University officials in Virginia aren’t any too happy about the Georgia Regents University name either and have hinted at attempts to stop the change.
The Regents have made a mistake. Wishful thinking says a protest loud enough can remedy the mistake. Probably not. At least USC Aiken and Aiken Tech seem to be safe.
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