President Ricardo Azziz used his final State of the Enterprise address to remind the GRU community of some of the challenges it faced during his five years in office while celebrating some of the many successes.
“At the start of this journey, if somebody had told me that we would accomplish all that we have in such a short period of time, I would not have believed it was possible,” he told a packed Lee Auditorium and those watching remotely at Science Hall on the Summerville Campus.
The fact that the two locations belonged to totally separate institutions when he started his tenure in Augusta was, of course, lost on no one, nor was the fact that he was recruited to be an agent of transformation.
“But what I didn’t really realize was how absolutely extraordinary that period of transformation was going to be,” he said.
First charged with creating an integrated health system that would be aligned and partnered with the university while also expanding Georgia’s public academic health care center to better serve the state’s growing need for medical professionals and health care providers, Azziz was quickly put in charge of the consolidation process that created the state’s forth comprehensive research university, becoming GRU’s first president.
“When we started, we were proud of who we were and we were proud of where we were,” he said. “We were honored to be part of a 200-year history, but we also understood that we were at a crossroads – a crossroads in health care and a crossroads in higher education.”
Acknowledging that the journey wasn’t always easy, he concluded by emphasizing how well positioned the current leadership team is to help the new president lead the organization into the future.
“I do believe that we are at the end of the initial phase of this transformation, what some of you may say is the hardest phase of this transformation,” he said. “It is now time for a new leader to take the helm and lead GRU into its next chapter.”
Azziz announced earlier in the year that he would be stepping down on June 30. A presidential search committee was formed in February.