First on 12: Azziz talks merger, GHSU plans for Golf and Gardens property

Georgia Health Sciences University (WRDW-TV)

Georgia Health Sciences University (WRDW-TV)

A timeline of the merger process

The idea to merge ASU and GHSU has been in talks for the last several months.

  • November: Gov. Nathan Deal sits down with Newsw 12 aqbout his suppoort of the idea.
  • January: The merger passes through the Board of Regents.
  • January: ASU and GHSU hold town halls to get public feedback.
  • March: The board is still trying to figure out the tiemline of when mergers will happen.
  • Summer 2012: The debate will begin over the new name of the combined GHSU and ASU.

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, March 13, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Pre-nursing Augusta State University Catherine Hardy wants answers as a merger with Georgia Health State University looms.

"We're a little nervous, to be honest. Everyone I talked to ... we don't really know what's going on," she said.

News 12 got a sneak peek into this new plan that highlights Gov. Nathan Deal's desire to have the merged university become a top 50 medical school.

First up on the agenda is moving the ASU nursing program to GHSU with one-on-one training at the neighboring medical center.

"So hopefully, everybody will enjoy that, after the move is completed, because right now the anxiety is there and we understand and respect that," said GHSU President Dr. Ricardo Azziz.

The abandoned Augusta Golf and Gardens could see new life soon, as the Georgia Board of Regents voted unanimously in favor of transferring 16 acres of riverfront property to GHSU. There is a resolution pending in the state legislature to approve the deal.

It's all part of what's being called a transformation of an enterprise that includes a new research or innovation center and more along the river.

"Student housing, of course, would be very good for some of our graduate and upper-level students," Azziz said.

But no mention of the much-talked-about riverfront baseball stadium.

"Certainly, it is not in our plans as a university to have a ballpark," Azziz said.

The game plan is to grow the institution, but we had to ask about how jobs would be affected.

"I think we will have really job presentation," Azziz said. "You know GHSU is relatively lean."

Hardy says job security for professors and increased opportunities for students are just what the doctor ordered.

"I think it will be a good thing. I just think they have some kinks to work out, and to let us know once they work them out," she said.

Current students at ASU's nursing program are going to see some big changes, starting as early as this summer.

The chair of the nursing program sent an email to students about those changes:
"Good day y'all,

I promised to keep you updated on information involving the merger if
there was a need for you to know. Today, I was informed that the ASU
nursing program would be relocated to the GHSU building in Fall 2012.

It is my understanding that this means in August 2012 the ASU nursing program will be conducted at GHSU. I assume that will entail a summer move of the department.

If you expect to graduate in May 2012, you will be unaffected. The
rest of you will be affected as the location of your classes will most
likely change. Your ASU nursing faculty advisors as well as Pat and
Janelle and Wanda Bell will have offices in the GHSU building.

Life is a journey filled with unexpected twists. Your major goal is to
complete the nursing program. So, stay focused on that. Know that the ASU faculty will help guide you through the process no matter the
location. You will graduate with an ASU nursing degree if you do what
you need to do to stay on track.

As always, I am so proud of you guys and I know that you will
represent us well no matter where you are.

Dr. Price"


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