GHSU President Dr. Ricardo Azziz and ASU President Dr. William Bloodworth meet with students and faculty members for a forum on the consolidation on Monday. (WRDW-TV / April 23, 2012)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, April 23, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- With the "New-U" come lots of new questions, and some people are worrying about their jobs.
News 12 was at both of the open forums on Monday, and there is some good news for employees.
Both Dr. Ricardo Azziz and Dr. William Bloodworth emphasize they are not expecting layoffs during the consolidation. If anything, they hope to grow even bigger as a new university.
"If we do not grow, we begin to shrink," GHSU President Azziz said.
Growth. Merger. Consolidation. Call it what you will ... the bottom line is change is coming for the two schools.
"I don't have concerns about expanding," said ASU Communications Lecturer Kathleen Trigg. "I have concerns about how we go about expanding."
Trigg was one of many people at the forums today, hoping to get more information about the merger.
"Reporting structures will change. Your seat may not be the same seat you had before," Azziz said.
But he also has good news about jobs at the two institutions.
"We have not really genuinely planned on cutting lots of positions -- or any positions -- at all."
"The key, though, is growth," said Azziz, explaining how growth might mean shuffling around positions that crossover.
The example he uses is that the new school will only need one registrar.
"They're both friends of mine!" exclaimed Trigg, referring to the two current registrars at the schools. "How is this going to be settled in a way that it's something we're all happy with?"
She says her main concern is adjusting and combining department positions while being respectful to the employees involved.
ASU President Bloodworth jokes they are already operating with a pretty lean university staff.
"Anybody work in an office that's overstaffed?" he questioned the audience. "I can't say don't be anxious," he added more seriously. "But I think I can say -- your job security is just as good going into the consolidation as it was beforehand."
ASU Student Government Association President Ethan Holliman is plugged in with what the students are talking about.
"There's a lot of discussion about the name. Also, a big concern with what tuition is looking like," he said.
Holliman said he personally hopes student involvement is still encouraged once the university expands.
"The good news is I've got [Dr. Azziz] on record saying he wants us to have student representation, he's open to it, wants us to have more," he said.
Overall, Trigg says these forums are helpful.
"What we did here today is wonderful. I would give President Azziz and President Bloodworth an 'A' in their communication for getting us together and talking with us."
The nursing programs of the two schools will begin consolidating this summer. The rest of the merger will take place in 2013.