GRU forum explores student life and athletics at the new university
The November 16 consolidation meeting held at Augusta State University’s Maxwell Center for the Performing Arts was significant for a number of reasons, but was perhaps most noteworthy for what it didn’t have — a formal speech from Georgia Health Sciences University President Dr. Ricardo Azziz. While Azziz was in attendance and did speak briefly from the auditorium seats, the forum, which focused on student affairs and athletics at the new combined institution, moved forward without him, though his theme of creating the next great American university was never far from the surface.
Kevin Frazier, currently GHSU’s vice president for student services and development, spoke about the challenges of becoming more than a commuter school.
“Making it a destination of choice requires not only great academics, but a similarly strong student life program courtesy of student affairs and others to facilitate our goals of enhanced student recruitment, retention, satisfaction and success,” he said. “Please don’t underestimate the value of student satisfaction — they say the Lord loves a cheerful giver, and so too do our foundations when our students become alumni.”
Though the idea of growing future donors might sound greedy, Frazier said it’s simply an offshoot of providing a satisfying student experience, which is important primarily for academic reasons and is something Frazier said the combined university will be able to provide better than its individual institutions.
“After consolidation, we’ll have many more reasons to respond when prospective students and staff ask, ‘Why GRU?’”
This echoes a sentiment Azziz established early in his administration, both when he spoke about the effect creating a campus atmosphere at GHSU would have on recruiting the top students and faculty to Augusta as well his much-derided comment that Augusta lacked the “cool factor.”
ASU Athletic Director Clint Bryant also agreed that combining the institutions would favorably impact student life as well as the types of students choosing to attend the school.
“The move of the consolidated university toward becoming a more comprehensive, student life-oriented campus will vastly enhance our recruiting efforts,” he said. “Consolidating drives us up the food chain from an athletics standpoint.”
Bryant, who has been at ASU since 1988, said at first he refrained from bringing potential recruits on campus because he had nothing to show them.
“But you know what’s happened in the last 25 years?” he asked. “The ugly duckling has turned into a beautiful swan.”
He listed several possible new sports, including rowing, swimming and diving, men’s and women’s lacrosse, soccer and equestrian, saying they were the kinds of sports students drawn to the new university would want, but said football would be too expensive for the near future.
The big consideration facing the school seems to be the decision whether or not to return to full NCAA Division I competition in all sports or remain an NCAA multi-classification school that competes in Division II except for men’s and women’s golf.
A founding member of the Division I Big South Conference, ASU joined Division II’s Peach Belt Conference in 1991.
GRU’s Student Affairs will be located on what officials are calling the Summerville campus, with the fitness and recreation component being primarily housed at the 42,000 square foot wellness center located on the medical campus.
While some aspects of student affairs have redundancy that will be ironed out by the consolidation, other aspects seem to fit more or less seamlessly, like student health and counseling. GHSU has the only student health clinic and ASU has the only dedicated student counseling center.
“Nothing’s been lost,” Frazier said. “Instead, it’s being unified in the primary office located on the Summerville campus.” You Might Also Like: