The Inside Story: Azziz announces $150M naming rights for 'New U,' predicts 'turnover'

Ricardo Azziz

GHSU President Dr. Ricardo Azziz talked about the "New U" on a radio show Wednesday. (WRDW-TV / May 16, 2012)

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, May 16, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta's "New U" still needs a name and will the new merger mean job cuts? Those were the two big questions at Wednesday's community forums.

"You have to understand that we are creating something totally new that has not been seen here in Augusta," said Dr. Ricardo Azziz. "Ever."

Augusta's "New U" was the big topic on our weekly radio segment on 96.3 KISS FM. Georgia Health Sciences University will soon merge with Augusta State University.

"Everyone wants to know what the new name is going to be," said GHSU employee Rhea-Beth Markowitz. "First of all, they still aren't used to GHSU and they say things like 'whatever it's called.' Now it's going to be something else. What is it going to be?"

"We have to have a name that has a national brand ... an international stance," Azziz said.

Augusta commissioners have prepared a formal resolution requesting the Board of Regents include Augusta in its new name.

"I think we all in Augusta need to show that we are united and working together," said a disapproving Dr. Azziz. "I think it is dangerous for we as a community to begin to show that we as a community are not together."

"The formal resolution is nothing more than a request," said Commissioner Jerry Brigham."That's all it is."

The other big topic is jobs.

"A lot of faculty and staff are concerned, 'Am I going to lose my job?'" Markowitz said. "Are jobs going to be cut? Are positions going to be cut?"

Azziz says there are no plans for mass layoffs, but each employee will have to pass one test.

"Can individuals that functioned in a smaller setting function now in a larger setting?" Azziz said. "That's where I think you'll see some of the turnover. But we're going to give everybody a chance."

The local and larger community will also have a chance to snag naming rights. It will cost you $150 million.

"This is a great investment. I'm trying to start collecting my pennies," said Azziz with a smile. "But it is going to take some time."

Azziz says the Board of Regents is expected to vote on a name in August. The school hopes to have a shortlist ready for community review as early as July.

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