Azziz declares 'winds changing' for Augusta as Gov. Deal announces $28M for GHSU

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, April 24, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Gov. Nathan Deal kicked off what is being called Georgia's victory tour in Augusta. He announced millions of dollars for Georgia Health Sciences University.

"I pledge to you," Deal said. "You will have my support."

Deal announced he has budgeted millions of dollars for Georgia Health Sciences University.

"We're so thrilled," said GHSU historian Dr. Lois Ellison with a smile. "We appreciate his support, and we're just so enthusiastic about our future. When I came to the medical school, there were two buildings on campus."

The governor announced $28 million for the new education commons building. The money will go toward the $76.5 million state-of-the-art building that will boast classrooms for dental and medical students.

"Our goal is to make this institution one of the top 50 public medical education schools in the entire country," Deal said.

That is music to the ears of Dr. Ellison, who has given her life to the university.

"I came to the Medical College of Georgia as a 19-year-old medical student in 1943," she said.

But Augusta, as well as the school, is about to see some big changes.

"The winds are changing for Augusta," said GHSU President Dr. Ricardo Azziz. "Augusta is becoming that university city, that city of innovation, that city of science, that city of technology that we've always wanted to be."

It is all thanks in part to a growing relationship with the governor. Deal was there as the university opened the dental school and opened his home to News 12 back in November, signaling a budding relationship that is now bringing the governor's deputy chief of staff, Michael Shaffer, to work at GHSU.

"But even though he is coming over here," Deal said. "We still consider him a part of our team. He is going to do a great job."

The governor also announced 400 new residency positions across the state. He spent more than an hour talking to local students and administrators.


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