Rapid Pulse: News and notes

Regents approve consolidated Georgia Regents University


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The consolidation of Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities is official following the approval of a resolution by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents to form Georgia Regents University in January.

“I am thankful for the trust the regents have placed in us and the partnership, support and active engagement exhibited by our faculty, staff, students, alumni, volunteers and friends throughout this consolidation process,” said GRU President Ricardo Azziz, who was appointed to lead the consolidated university in Augusta.

Following approval of a recommendation to consolidate the two universities at its January 2012 meeting, the regents approved the new university’s mission statement in May and the name Georgia Regents University in August.

The new university includes nine colleges, nearly 10,000 students, more than 650 acres of campus, nearly 150 buildings, more than 1,000 full-time faculty, approximately 5,600 staff and an integrated health system. The inaugural class of GRU will enroll this fall.

New nursing dean: Melissa Faulkner, a nationally recognized nurse scientist and educator, has been named associate dean for educational innovation at Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, effective Feb. 1. Faulkner, DSN, RN, will be responsible for overseeing and implementing innovative educational initiatives across the nursing school's undergraduate and graduate programs.

Faulkner comes to Emory from the University of Arizona, where she was the Gladys E. Sorenson Endowed Professor of Diabetes Research and Education. She is best known for her pioneering research in pediatric diabetes. She has studied both the psychosocial and psychological factors affecting health outcomes for youth with diabetes. She has also held academic positions at Arizona State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Tennessee and Southeast Missouri State University. Faulkner was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2007.

College expansion: Brenau University in Gainesville took possession of the city-owned Georgia Mountains Center in December as part of a long-term lease agreement with the Gainesville Redevelopment Authority that will pave the way for a $6.5 million expansion of the school's health care professions graduate programs.

Brenau President Ed Schrader said that the school’s occupancy of the building means that it can start work on major internal renovations to the property. Pending approvals by various academic and professional standards accrediting boards, the university plans to offer graduate programs in physical therapy and other professional health care disciplines in 2014.

With the execution of the lease, the university assumes responsibility for managing all aspects of the facility. Brenau’s investment in the project totals about $6.5 million. That includes costs of renovations, building technology infrastructure, equipment for high-level health-related graduate programs and research, and other costs associated with starting new professional health care programs.

The investment will put into action Brenau's long-term plans to expand graduate-level programs leading to master's degrees and doctorates in the health care and rehabilitative services professional disciplines such as physical therapy, pharmacy and physician assistant preparation.
Along with the construction renovation, Brenau will soon begin staffing for the physical therapy program, first with the hiring of the department chair.

Chamber honorees: The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce has honored Gwinnett Technical College for its contribution to the continued well-being of Gwinnett County and metro Atlanta citizens through "outstanding effort and commitment to the health care industry."

The Gwinnett Tech Foundation’s Legacy of Lives leadership team was named Volunteers of the Year at the chamber’s annual Healthcare Excellence Awards. Gwinnett Tech’s Legacy of Lives Campaign supports the education and training of the health care professionals needed to serve the region.

The program was designed to raise awareness in the community, enhance the quality of health care and recognize deserving individuals and organizations within the health care community.

“The Gwinnett Tech Foundation has a rich history of support and service from the region’s most progressive leaders. The Legacy of Lives Campaign is no exception, with Ed Bastian, president of Delta Air Lines, serving as the honorary campaign chair,” said Mary Beth Byerly, executive director, Gwinnett Tech Foundation. “Leading the capital campaign, a commitment of hundreds of hours of personal time, are Kim Ryan, CEO, Eastside Medical Center; Sean Murphy, Avnet Remarketing Solutions; and Jim McGean, the recently retired president of Verizon Wireless.”

Several Gwinnett Tech board members, faculty and business partners were also among the honorees. Cathy Scholz, dean of Life Sciences at Gwinnett Tech, was a finalist for Healthcare Professional of the Year. Kim Ryan, CEO of Eastside Medical Center, was named Healthcare Executive of the Year. Thad Hutcheson, vice president, community relations with Delta Air Lines, was a finalist for Philanthropist of the Year.

Gwinnett Tech has the largest number of life and health sciences program offerings in the state, with more than a dozen degree, diploma and certificate options in health care, life sciences and emergency services.