Georgia Regents University president gives resignation

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 on Wednesday, but had discussed leaving the university with Huckaby since last week, 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.