Little known fact about institutions like ASU/MCG/GHSU/GRU-ED: Every write up they get in the press gets clipped and put in a file for posterity.
So this little essay is going to end up in that file, right there next to the stories about how thousands of locals are ready to string up Dr. Ricardo Azziz and 17/18ths of the Georgia Board of Regents. It will rest snug up against the front page Augusta Chronicle editorial slamming Azziz’s orchestrated campaign to get his massive new educational complex named just like he wanted. It will be nestled in close with the numerous reports that showed his minions lobbied officials and pushed the unpopular motif, while the hear/speak/see no evil monkeys that call themselves Regents gobbled up the bull he fed them like sea gulls gobbling so many airborne Cheetos.
This is one of many printed entries that will end up in that vaunted file, but this may be the only one that attempts to speak to the good doctor personally. So here goes, and if nothing else, at least I saved a stamp.
Dr. Azziz… Ricardo… Ricky-baby…
I understand you have a lot on your plate. You have been given a Herculean task, albeit one that you personally asked for, but that notwithstanding, your job right now has got to be a real bitch.
Consolidating two very different, extraordinarily complex institutions of higher learning could very well be one of the most difficult real life projects ever undertaken by a pure academic. You are going to be challenged at every turn, not just because common sense and logic demands that certain cuts and adjustments be made, but because you will be met with battle from every entrenched bureaucrat and career educator with tenure. People who think they are entitled to what they have because the last guy who died holding the same position got to have it that way their whole life.
The world changed a few years ago and, by god, if the UAW can be told to stick it in their ear, I’ll be damned if the “soft butts” in academia can’t be knocked down a few sizes.
Up to now, you had the community behind you. We were hoping that the Board of Regents would recognize Augusta’s unbounded affection and support for these two schools and all their supporting personnel and students. My father is a 1968 graduate of Augusta College, the first and only college graduate in his immediate family. I too attended the school, and my daughter has spent the last two years knocking out her core at ASU, finishing elsewhere only because her life’s calling requires divinity training elsewhere.
In the mid ’60s my mother worked full time at MCG while my dad was finishing his degree, helping him get through school while keeping a roof over all our heads.
How ironic 20 years later, when I ceased to be a full-time college student, that my mom’s insistence that I get a full-time job that came with all important health insurance, resulted in my first taste of adult life and responsibility, all courtesy of a 40-hour work week as a patient care assistant in the MCG Emergency Room. Six bucks and some change an hour, if memory serves, plus the benefits. (BTW, I loved that job! Everyone should spend time working in an emergency room. The single most educational environment I have ever had the privilege to experience.)
I submit the above biographical history of four members of the Rhodes family just to establish our credentials and investments in these institutions that you now guide. None of us will be enshrined in the GPA Hall of Fame, or the Employee of the Year Club, but for those certain, very exciting times in our lives, those institutions were the center of our universes and occupied the majority of our respective waking hours.
To this day when I drive by either campus, I still get the feeling that I have family inside; that I belong there. I know the rest of the Rhodes feel the same.
These hometown institutions deserve to be embraced by the community that built them. While millions of dollars in tuition and taxpayers’ funds laid the brick and mortar foundations that house the missions of these schools and clinics, it is the men and women who work and study there who actually bring those institutions to life. It is those men and women who are asking you to remember the community that is Augusta.
We may not all have been born here, and we may not stay forever, but while we work, learn, help and heal at ASU/MCG, we are all Augustans.
Even you and your family, Dr. Azziz, right this minute, are Augustans.
As a member of our community, we ask you to fix this mistake. I believe you were pure of heart in your intent, but misunderstanding the sentiments of our extended family will only be a sin if you allow the mistake to continue.
Please fix it. We know you can do it.
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