Tag Archives: Brooks Keel

GRU faculty and staff give big for IGRU

It’s safe to say GRU faculty and staff have more than risen to the challenge set forth by last year’s IGRU campaign.

So far, we have surpassed our goal of $325,000 by raising a total of $326,519.09 – a 24 percent increase in giving from this time last year.

On Friday, Sept. 11 faculty and staff celebrated that success with a sweet treat from Kona Ice. The Community portion of the campaign kicked off on Thursday, Sept. 17 with a luncheon at the Augusta Country Club and will continue through Oct. 9.

Still want to give? There are plenty of ways left to contribute. From now until the end of the IGRU campaign, you  can still make a gift at giving.gru.edu/IGRU.

You can also give by joining us at one of the following events:

GRUB for GRU  – Thursday, Sept. 24
IGRU Alumni BBQ & Celebration – Friday, Oct. 9
Jaguar Jaunt 5K – Saturday, Oct. 10

In the meantime, if you’re thinking about giving, enjoy this special message from President Brooks Keel.

Presidential Announcement

The following message was sent to all university and health system employees:

Dear Colleagues,

I want to share some exciting news from the monthly meeting of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents in Atlanta. Today, the board voted to change the name of Georgia Regents University to Augusta University.

While this change will necessitate adjustments across our university and health system community — a community that has faced a number of significant transitions in recent years — it is also recognition of the critical partnership that exists between our institution and our local community. The energy and enthusiasm generated by this partnership will be instrumental as we build our reputation as a national leader in teaching, research, health care and service.

No doubt there will be many questions, and we will work hard to engage our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends as we develop the answers. We will share more about those efforts in the coming days.

I returned to this university excited to help fulfill an extraordinary mission alongside the committed faculty, staff and students. Since my arrival, I am more convinced than ever that we have a very bright future ahead of us. As always, your efforts on behalf of the many we serve from across our region and state are immeasurably appreciated.


Brooks A. Keel, Ph.D.


For the Board of Regents announcement of the name change, click here.

Day of Service 2015 registration ends Thursday Sept. 10

Residents of the CSRA will have a chance to give back to the community during Georgia Regents University’s Day of Service on Sept. 12.

Community members are invited to join GRU employees, students and their families to help organizations in our area through volunteer service.

“GRU is a huge part of Augusta and the surrounding communities; this is our home, and we must take pride in it by caring for our city and for each other,” GRU President Brooks Keel said. “Day of Service shines light on one of GRU’s most important institutional values – compassion. We encourage our faculty, staff and students to be socially responsible by reaching out and lending a helping hand through various community service projects, and we are asking community members to join us this year as well.”

Volunteer opportunities – some of which welcome children – include playing with and walking pets, doing lawn work, painting walls and interacting with veterans. Time of service varies according to activity and venue needs.

All volunteers will get a free Day of Service T-shirt and wristband, which they can pick up on Sept. 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the GRU Wellness Center at 1459 Laney Walker Blvd., Augusta, or in the Jaguar Student Activities Center breezeway on GRU’s Summerville Campus at 2500 Walton Way, Augusta.

Volunteers will also get a free pass with their Day of Service wristband to a special celebration, which will include a jazz concert with Wycliffe Gordon & NuFunk Revolution, Travis Shaw and the Mike Frost Band. There will also be a barbecue while it lasts. The celebration will kick off at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, following Day of Service Activities, at the D. Douglas Barnard Amphitheatre on GRU’s Summerville campus.

To sign up to volunteer for Day of Service, click here. Each volunteer must complete a separate registration, including children.

The deadline for registration is Sept. 10. Click here to sign.

For more information, please email dayofservice@gru.edu.

Faculty prepares for upcoming year at kickoff event

As provost, Dr. Gretchen Caughman frequently addresses faculty concerning issues involving the university, but seldom does she get the opportunity to speak to as many at one time as she did last week at the faculty kickoff meeting at the Maxwell Theatre.

There, Caughman kicked off the new academic year by presenting a long list of priorities while also emphasizing the importance of teamwork and getting to know fellow faculty members.

“No matter how long you’ve been here, and I might have been here longer than anybody, there’s somebody you don’t know,” she said. “And I think you should try to speak to at least five people you don’t know before you leave today. Make some new friends. These are colleagues, and we are in this together.”

Later, after talking about the importance of the University Senate, introducing new faculty and sharing the stage with Augustus, the new Jaguar mascot, Caughman presented President Brooks Keel.

“The opportunity to come back home and be the main cheerleader for both your undergraduate and your graduate universities is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m excited to be here,” he said. “And I really do see that one of my primary roles is to be a cheerleader, to try to serve as the mouthpiece to tell the world about the wonderful things that you, the faculty of this great university, do here.”

When it came to the point where he would normally start talking about vision, however, Keel stopped.

“I don’t have a vision,” he said. “I can’t bring you a vision for this university – that’s something that we together have to decide. We together have to work on the vision of Georgia Regents University, and we together have to be in the position to carry out that vision.”

Then, he highlighted some areas of importance, including the Cyber Institute, making GRU a destination campus and using the strong performing arts culture on the Summerville Campus as a driver to help recruit business and industry to the community.

“You are the heart and soul of this university,” he concluded. “We have a lot of challenges ahead of us. But I’m up for the challenges, and I know you are, too.”

Click here to watch a video of the entire presentation.

2015 Freshman Convocation welcomes students in style

Few events in an individual’s life resonate quite as strongly as going to college.

For many, the first day is an initiation – a rite of passage that ushers students from the perceived worries of their youth into the realities of adulthood. For others, it is a challenge – a test of ability in which winners are determined through grade point averages and certificates of merit. And for some, it is simply the next in a long line of forward-looking steps.

On Aug. 14, Georgia Regents University welcomed hundreds of new freshmen into the fold with a day of celebration and learning as part of the 2015 Freshman Convocation. Introduced by Dr. Gretchen Caughman, President Brooks Keel also greeted students, providing encouragement and welcoming the class of 2019 to the GRU family as one newcomer to another.

“You and I have many things in common,” said Keel. “I am just starting my time here at GRU, so in many ways, I am a freshman as well.”

Keel extolled the value of graduating within four years and praised faculty both for their care and dedication to the art of teaching.

Following Keel’s speech, Col. Sam Anderson, garrison commander of Fort Gordon, took the stage to speak to students about the importance of being leaders.

“In many ways, you are already role models,” said Anderson. “Over the course of the next four years, your job is to determine what kind of role model you want to be. What kind of leader do you want to be?”

Anderson concluded with a quote from Adm. William H. McRaven, whose original speech at the 2014 commencement of the University of Texas at Austin has gained worldwide attention on YouTube.

“Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often,” said Anderson, quoting his former boss. “But if you take some risks, step up when the times are the toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up. If you do these things, the next generation, and the generations that follow, will live in a far better world than today.”

Following Anderson came the presenter students were most looking forward to hearing from: GRU sophomore Lucas “Luke” Street. Having worked as a Retreat Week Leader, a Peer Mentor and Orientation Leader, Street has encouraged dozens of new students to find new ways to get involved on campus.

In addition to general tips about being a freshman, Street offered incoming students a few pieces of important advice.

“Get involved, make friends, be true to yourself, make memories,” said Street. “Those really speak for themselves, don’t they? That’s as much as I can say about them.”

Augustus welcomed as new mascot for the Jaguar Nation

After a long rollout that included a series of videos chronicling the career-ending injury of former mascot Al E. Cat and the search for his replacement, Georgia Regents University’s new mascot, Augustus, was welcomed to Jaguar Nation Tuesday in an energy-filled ceremony at the Jaguar Student Activity Center.

“This is a very important day for Jaguar Nation,” said Athletic Director Clint Bryant, who followed his opening remarks by touching on the history of the Jaguar mascot.

Only four universities in the nation are known as the Jaguars, Bryant said: GRU, South Alabama University, Southern University and Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. And though the Summerville Campus has been the Jaguars since the 1930s, it wasn’t until 1992 that the school had its first mascot: Al E. Cat. The name, chosen from 250 entries, earned the winner $50.

President Brooks Keel, a graduate of both Augusta College and the Medical College of Georgia, noted the consolidation of the two schools while giving a nod to its binding traditions.

Al E. Cat
An early version of Al E. Cat

“I wasn’t here back in the 30s, but I was here back when it was Augusta College. And it was Jaguar then, it is Jaguar now, and it’s Jaguar even bigger than I could have ever imagined as an undergraduate student,” he said. “It’s bigger than I ever could have imagined as a graduate student of the Medical College of Georgia. It is now the combination of two of the greatest universities around into one university, one Georgia Regents University, and we are all one Jaguar Nation.”

Shortly after Keel spoke, Augustus made his big entrance.

Brian Marshall, a marketing specialist with the Division of Communications and Marketing, was instrumental in the creation of the new mascot, which was developed with the help of Weir/Stewart, an Augusta advertising firm. Having actually performed while wearing the innovative new suit, Marshall has a unique insight.

drawing2“The first thing you think about when you’re going to be a mascot is what the vision is like,” he said. “With this suit, there are actually two different places where you can look out. You’re not looking 20/20 out of the eye holes, but you’re able to see out of those two places, so you can get a better sense of what’s around you.”

Another unique aspect of the suit is the feet, which he said are worn like slippers.

“You’re not covering up your shoe; you’re actually putting your foot in there, so you don’t have to worry about your foot slipping off, because it’s built to keep it there,” he said. “I’ve run in it, I’ve jumped in it, I’ve danced in it – you name it.”

drawingAnd because many of the larger schools utilize multiple mascot suits, GRU actually has two Augustus suits.

“That way we can do recruiting off campus, but still have him available here for a game,” Marshall said. “However, because we want to make sure there’s only one Augustus, we have a strategy in place to make sure that if he’s going to be on live TV, he won’t be performing somewhere else at exactly the same time.”

While the design process was intense, it was fun and rewarding for all involved.

“We’re pretty proud of him and would like to thank everyone over at Georgia Regents University for trusting us to bring the new mascot for the Jaguar Nation to life,” said Alex Wier, creative director at Wier/Stewart. “Going from looking at the sketches to seeing a real Augustus pumping up the GRU faithful has been a very cool experience.”

The suit was delivered in late April, which was a little too late in the school year for a proper rollout, so the team decided to wait to officially welcome Augustus until the first week of the 2015-16 school year, though Augustus was busy over the summer filming videos and interacting with students during different orientation sessions.

Photo credit: Phil Jones

Photo credit: Kim Ratliff

Celebrate Spirit Day by wearing your Jag gear

Show your Jaguar spirit – pull out your blue and gray gear and join us as we celebrate GRU’s annual Spirit Day!

The first day of classes each semester will now be known as GRU Spirit Day for all students, faculty, staff and health system employees.

On Monday, Aug. 17, wear your blue and gray attire, take a selfie and tag @GeorgiaRegents and you might just win a $25 gift certificate valid at either JagStore.

Go Jags!

Provost’s Perspective: New Leadership

First of all, let me take a moment to welcome everyone to the campus of Georgia Regents University and the start of the new academic year. Not only am I excited to see our returning students and the energy they bring as they pursue their academic goals, I am deeply honored that so many freshmen and their families have entrusted their university experience to GRU. More and more, we’re becoming a destination of choice for the best and brightest, not just here in the CSRA, but also in Georgia, the nation and even the world.

The start of the fall semester is also a time to reconnect with the faculty and staff who have chosen GRU as the place to put their special skills to use. We know there is great demand for the level of talent we’re recruiting across all our ranks, and I am grateful that so many wonderful colleagues continue to commit their time and expertise to GRU.

Of course, the excitement that came earlier this summer with Dr. Brooks Keel being tapped as the next president of GRU and CEO of GRHealth has been palpable. Dr. Keel has a thorough understanding of biomedical research, a track record of visionary leadership and a history with our legacy institutions that is second to none. As I’ve watched him meet with deans and faculty, students and staff, I’ve been impressed by his warmth and his ability to connect with the people within those positions.

It is indeed an exciting time to be at GRU.

And Dr. Keel is not the only new face who will have an impact on our organization. Indeed, we have recruited several talented individuals to fill other key roles in our university.

Undoubtedly, the person blessed with the best name is Dr. Quincy Byrdsong, our inaugural vice president for academic planning and strategic initiatives. Coming to us from Virginia Commonwealth University, he will be quarterbacking those complex initiatives that require great coordination and interaction with the colleges and different structural units. He will aid us all in ensuring that we have rigor and structure around our academic planning. Though we’ve always been conscious of that need, we feel he is perfectly suited to help colleges, departments, and faculty start framing the academic planning process even earlier, allowing us to consider the “what ifs” surrounding the development of, say, a particular program or major before the time comes to pitch it to those at a higher administration level.

Quincy also will take over some of the operational units that we see as being key to our strategic initiatives. Most visibly, as chief diversity officer, Quincy will also have responsibility for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, an office that is very important to me personally and one that continues to be a national model. While the vice president for academic planning and strategic initiatives is new to GRU, it was developed to fulfill a number of critical functions for the institution, and it actually helped streamline our leadership ranks, since three previous positions – two active and one we were searching for – are being filled by this one role.

Dr. Zach Kelehear, our new dean of the College of Education, has only been on the job since July 1, but already he has started making strong, important connections throughout the community by reaching out to the schools, principals and superintendents in our regional education service area. Not only that, but his interaction with the faculty is already creating valuable and innovative ideas. The University of South Carolina’s loss is definitely our gain. And, if you want to start a conversation and see a gleam in Zach’s eyes, just ask him about another of his passions – beekeeping.

Speaking of the College of Education, former dean Dr. Cindi Chance continues to “fail retirement” and has agreed to return and offer her special leadership abilities to the Confucius Institute as its director. Her intense interest in global education in general and China in particular make her a natural to guide the Confucius Institute to the next stage of its existence at GRU.

I also want to take this opportunity to say a special thank you to Dr. Joe Tsien, for his pivotal work in developing and launching the Confucius Institute as its founding director. With the Institute now on strong footing, Joe, a world-renowned neuroscientist, felt it was a perfect time to focus more fully on his true passion – doing basic research in brain science.

We’re also proud that Joanne Sexton has moved into the role of Cyber Institute director. Not only does she have experience as an information technology expert for the U.S. Navy, but she has a deep understanding of our cyber education initiatives. The new institute is certainly in good hands.

And over in the Hull College of Business, we have the transition of Dean Marc Miller into the newly created role of executive director for economic development and entrepreneurial engagement. Entrepreneurship, economic development and community engagement are increasingly important institutional priorities, and we look forward to significant advances through Marc’s work in his new role. The national search for business dean will begin in the next few weeks, and I very much appreciate Mark Thompson’s service as interim dean until the position is filled.

Research administration is fortunate to have a familiar face in a new role – Dr. Alvin Terry joins SVP for Research Michael Diamond and adds strength to this critical unit as associate vice president for basic sciences. Alvin provides administrative oversight for lab animal services, as well as a number of other critical responsibilities.

And as an example of our continuing emphasis on enhancing student services at all levels, we’re happy to welcome David Barron, who, as associate vice president for enrollment services, will be over recruitment, admissions and financial aid, areas which are absolutely essential to our success.

This list is in no way comprehensive, nor does it adequately describe the intentional eye with which we’re considering our challenges. It’s simply a brief selection from a very long list of great people doing great things at our institution, and I hope to highlight more as the months go on. Please know that everyone’s efforts are valued and everyone’s dedication to our shared goal is admired. The success of Georgia Regents University requires all of us to give our best, and I’m confident our students, our patients and our community will receive no less.