Tempers flared on Thursday as supporters of two universities in Augusta, Ga., that are being merged found out what their combined university will be called.
The name, "Georgia Regents University," isn't sitting well with hundreds of people who have flocked to Facebook and Twitter and signed online petitions demanding a different name.
The University System of Georgia's Board of Regents approved the name on Tuesday for the campus being created by the merger of Augusta State University and the Georgia Health Sciences University.
It was one of three names suggested by a committee made up of students, alumni, faculty and staff members, and people in the community. The other two were Georgia Arts and Sciences University and the University of Augusta.
Many supporters of the universities are angry that "Augusta" was dropped from the name, and they fear the new institution will face an identity crisis. Georgia's other public universities that are being merged to save the state money all retained in their new names a nod to their regions—Middle Georgia State College, South Georgia State College, and the University of North Georgia.
Chris Gay, a sportswriter at The Augusta Chronicle, had this to say in a column this week: "I guess we should congratulate the Board of Regents on the birth of their son today because many of us will now call this new university 'Georgia Board of Regents University.' How narcissistic can you get? We should all call this new university 'Junior.'"
So far, the board isn't budging. John Millsaps, a spokesman for the regents, said in an e-mail that the board had no plans to change a name that has a number of points in its favor.
First, he said, "it recognizes the fact that this is the first comprehensive research university in Georgia created by the USG Regents." (The state's other universities opened before the Board of Regents was established, in 1932.)
And second, statewide and national marketing studies "indicated that the name was relatively neutral, allowing the university to create its own image and brand."
But on Thursday, seemingly everyone was weighing in, including members of Augusta State's national-championship men's golf team, who told local reporters that the new name would hurt recruiting and wipe out the team's legacy.
A letter of protest also came from Virginia, but not because the sender didn't like the name. He said it had already been taken. Ronald A. DiCerbo, a lawyer for Regent University, a Christian institution in Virginia Beach founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson, asked the board to avoid a name that could cause confusion and "dilute Regent University's trademarks."