Art funding, co-ed dorms and more

Georgia Southern, UGA Law School gifted by Sanders family

The Georgia Southern University Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art recently received a $500,000 gift from the estate of former Georgia Gov. Carl E. Sanders.

The gift will support academic initiatives for visual art and design students, exhibitions, merit-based projects, competitions and innovative curriculum development in the department named for Sanders’ wife.

Gov. Sanders died in November at age 89.

Both Sanders previously established separate endowments at the university for visiting artists, student travel and scholarship, said department chairman Robert Farber. Betty Sanders also donated the Georgia Artists Collection of more than 40 artworks to the Georgia Southern art department.

The University of Georgia law school also received $3.4 million from Sanders’ estate. About $2.4 million of the gift will be used to create the Carl E. Sanders Law Scholarship Fund for law students. The remainder of the gift will be added to the Carl E. Sanders Chair in Political Leadership Fund, which was established in 2002 to support a faculty position.

The donation was the largest single gift in the law school’s history and makes Sanders, who earned his law degree from UGA in 1948, the law school’s greatest individual benefactor.

Georgia Regents University President resigning

Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz is resigning from the university effective June 30.

Azziz turned in his resignation letter to system Chancellor Hank Huckaby in January, but had discussed leaving the university with Huckaby earlier, Huckaby said. The state’s Board of Regents accepted Azziz’s resignation on Thursday.

Azziz was named president of the Medical College of Georgia in 2010. He led the merger of Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities in 2012, which created GRU, the University System of Georgia’s fourth research university. He also serves as chief executive officer of the Georgia Regents Health System.

He was one of three finalists last year, but was not chosen, to lead the University of Nevada, Las Vegas He was also a candidate early last year to lead the new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, but decided not to pursue that post. Azziz was also one of 36 nominees to replace University of Florida President Bernie Machem in 2012.

During his tenure at GRU, Azziz was criticized for supporting the name of the consolidated university, which inflamed some residents because “Augusta” was not included. He was also criticized for questionable spending decisions, including having a $75,000 carport built at the president’s home and using a university bus and driver for a relative’s wedding.

“Dr. Azziz was hired to be a change agent,” Huckaby said about Azziz’s criticisms by the Augusta and university community. The previous board and governor were committed to moving the medical school higher in national rankings, which Azziz did, Huckaby said, noting that sometimes change agents create fuss along the way.

Azziz indicated that he plans to return to teaching and practicing medicine, Huckaby said

University System officials will announce a presidential search committee for Azziz’s replacement. Presidents at the state’s public colleges serve on yearly contracts. Azziz will finish out the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Georgia State University will offer students an option for co-ed dorm rooms beginning in the fall semester

The university plans to offer “gender inclusive housing,” in which students can request a roommate regardless of the person’s sex .

The move comes after requests by siblings, opposite-sex friends and LGBT students wanting to live together, said Marilyn De LaRoche, Georgia State’s director of university housing.

GSU is not the first college in Georgia to offer co-ed rooms. Emory University implemented its gender inclusive policy for juniors and seniors in 2011 and expanded it to all students last year. Students can request an assignment in suite-style or apartment-style housing, but housing is not guaranteed. Kennesaw State University began offering gender inclusive housing in fall 2013.

“We make changes all the time on different things that students bring up,” GSU’s De LaRoche said. “More students are coming here who have a different interest and different lifestyle. We call it inclusive because we’re not excluding people of different interests.”

She said, “If we’re going to really honor diversity, we think it’s just time to make that option available.”

Any of the 4,200 students in Georgia State housing wanting the gender inclusive option would have to sign an agreement to participate and be placed in a roommate matching pool. Students not choosing the new option will be assigned dorms through the traditional method, based on sex.

There are 155 colleges and universities in the country that already offer gender inclusive housing options, according to Campus Pride, a national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups advocating for safer environments for LGBT students.

For Georgia State’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, “they were looking for a level of comfort on campus,” De LaRoche said. “… LGBT students wanted to live with people like themselves, regardless of orientation.”

Kennesaw State’s decision to offer that option also came after continued student requests, Jeff Cooper, KSU’s director of residence life, said in a statement to the AJC. “In order to participate, students must opt in and thus far, only a limited number of students have taken advantage of it,” Cooper said.

Co-ed dorm room policies in other states have met opposition from some conservative groups, lawmakers and parents who view the option as unnecessary, immoral and outside the realm of colleges’ jurisdiction.

De LaRoche said, “There is always opposition to change. Where it will come from, I’m not sure. Right now students are excited about it and we’re getting a lot of positive feedback.”

The new housing option and associated policies will be available to Georgia State students on Jan. 26 when the housing application process opens for the fall semester.