Azziz: 'We messed up' by altering photos

By: Staff Email
By: Staff Email

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz has issued a statement on the alteration of photos in an admissions view book.

"Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends:

Last week you may have heard, or read, about an alteration of photos of Augusta State University athletes’ uniforms that were included in a Georgia Regents University admissions view book -- now removed from use. And you will likely hear more in the days ahead.

So in case you are in doubt, let me be clear ... We messed up! And because at the end of the day the buck stops at my desk ... my team and I have to take full responsibility for this error.

The alteration not only represented an error in judgment, but demonstrated an insensitivity to our history, to GRU’s history, rooted as it is in the long traditions and richness of our seminal universities, Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University.

And so firstly I want to assure all of you that this in no way represents a concerted effort to erase or rewrite history. In fact, similar photos of ASU athletics were used unaltered, proudly displaying the ASU logo, in other GRU publications prepared at about the same time as the admissions view book. We are proud of ASU’s and GHSU’s past accomplishments, and those that achieved them.

We should all recognize that the future of Georgia Regents University is being built upon the strong and rich histories of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University. We value this history, and we value the contributions of those who came before us. And as such I have made capturing, recording, and displaying our histories a priority of this administration.

Secondly, we must try to minimize the risk of these kinds of mistakes happening again. For starters, we are putting in place a policy that requires that all GRU publications, regardless of what unit they come from, to be routed through the Office of Communications and Marketing for production consultation and final approval. A greater number of eyes are required to ensure correct branding and positioning. And we are finalizing a template of approved logos and standards to ensure consistency across our enterprise.

Thirdly, and paradoxically, we all must understand that mistakes will and do happen. We have almost 10,000 employees in our enterprise, all working very hard. And we are all working very fast to do the right thing in a very dynamic environment ... not just by choice, but because we have to, for there are many pressing issues that need to be addressed as we become GRU.

The issues are myriad. Student recruitment has to accelerate for this fall ... and we are already six months behind our peers. SACS will be visiting our campus in the fall, and much is still required prior to their visit, including a strategic plan. Planning for new student facilities must occur now, for our fall students. We must operate at this very moment under one set of regulatory policies ... despite having two separate sets of policies in place. We must craft a single unified FY14 budget ... and it must be ready in two months. We must finalize our athletic logos and apparel for this coming season -- ensuring Augusta is consistently displayed on them. And much more ...

Much to do in a very short period of time ... This accelerating pace of change consumes a great deal of our collective energy, and mistakes are almost inevitable. However, we must strive hard to find ways to minimize their number, their impact and their repetition.

Finally, while we should welcome educated debate as we strive to build the next great American University, the degree of editorial irresponsibility exhibited by a few members of the media reduces the resulting discussion about what is inarguably one of the paramount ventures for the future of our community and for Georgia to the lowest possible levels. Conduct like this is clearly aimed to harm the image of our university, our city, and our students, staff and faculty without regard for the very hard ... and extraordinary work of the GRU community. And the many successes and triumphs we have had ... and continue to have, and for which we should be proud.

Please know that I am very grateful to each and every one of you for all you do for our university and health system. And I know you are as proud as I am to be part of such a great, innovative and transforming enterprise. A unique institution that produces the quadruple key benefits of educating our future generations, of producing discoveries that change our destiny, of providing care to many in need and of serving as a major economic engine to our community and beyond.

While we have had an extremely regrettable incident ... it was an isolated incident. But we must recognize that this likely will not be our last misstep as an organization, as we move through the very complex and arduous process of creating the next great American University. The only ships that don’t make waves are those that fail to leave the dock. And as you all know, we have left the dock in a very big way.

We are on a journey to become a top-tier global institution, and we will do it through the continued engagement, collaborative thinking and focused determination of our faculty, staff, and students and of our alumni and friends. I thank you for your continued trust, support and hard work. Be proud!

Respectfully,

Ricardo Azziz, MD, MPH, MBA"


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