What Can Be Gleaned From Ricardo Azziz Resignation

I have already written two articles on the Georgia Regents university president Ricardo Azziz, so I will not cover the same information again. You can view the details of his severance package here: Ricardo Azziz To receive One Year Leave and $1.1 Million Severance Package

In this article I would instead like to focus on more interesting questions like why, who, and when. The Augusta Chronicle newspaper has some very savvy commenters below the Azziz article and they independently reached the same conclusions I had drawn.

The first question we need to ask is “why”. Why did Azziz resign? You won’t get an answer from anything Azziz said that is for sure. He gave no believable reason at all nor did Hank Huckaby. Instead he said it was a hard job and he needed a break.That is a very generic answer for such a sudden decision.  No doubt a $1.1M severance package while he does practically nothing for a year then gets a lifetime tenure to continue doing little will help him slow down. But it is also possible this was not a sudden decision and had been in the works for quite a while. I wonder what some smart and precise open record requests would reveal?

http://t.co/FqHysYmTUg

A commenter on the Augusta article named Riverman1 had this to say:

Why He Was Paid…

“The payoff keeps Azziz from suing. That would end up costing lots more and affect fund raising in a hugely negative way. He has to be kept happy without negative comments thrown his way by any BOR members. There is a fine line to walk in such situations of getting someone to leave without giving him reasons to sue and disrupt the institution…..he continued in another post 

 

plus it’s unlikely there was a hard copy agreement in place to pay him x number of dollars if he left. The details of the settlement are important because it tells us how much the BOR was willing to pay to get rid of him. In addition, MCG, ASU and even the MCG Foundation have to answer to the people.

 

Some may say the foundation is private, but let’s get real and realize it’s simply a means for the physicians using the facility to profit. A large portion of their profits are donated back to the school to keep everyone happy.

 

From what I’m hearing there were lengthy negotiations over the settlement package which also puts to rest this farce of him leaving voluntarily.”

 

Riveman1,  I couldn’t agree more and that is pretty much what I am guessing happened as well.

A few more comments I think that help zero in on the more realistic implications of this sweetheart severance deal.

Esctab The dollar amount is an insult to Augusta; but is typical of the hush money paid out to crooks in high places. However, the bigger insult and slap in the face to Augusta – particularly the faculty at MCG and ASU (I refuse to call it GRU) – is the award of tenure along the with Regent Professor title. This means that Azziz can remain as an employee for a very long time; his salary will be reduced if he is still here after this hush money contract ends; but since the BOR gave him tenure, the institution is stuck with him until he leaves.

The central problem in this scenario is that the Board of Regents is accountable to no one; they can do whatever they want and there is no one to stop them. This is why they constantly give us the finger – they know they can get away with anything.

motownusa I saved in my 401K for 28 years at a great paying job thinking I did really well and this guy made more than that in one paycheck. America is the land of opportunity but this is excessive for somebody who accomplished absolutely nothing of significance but that was the deal the BOR gave him so what can you say except that changes need to be made to the system where the good ole boy system rules within. I hope the Augusta Chronicle and the community pushes for the changes.

I saved in my 401K for 28 years at a great paying job thinking I did really well and this guy made more than that in one paycheck. America is the land of opportunity but this is excessive for somebody who accomplished absolutely nothing of significance but that was the deal the BOR gave him so what can you say except that changes need to be made to the system where the good ole boy system rules within. I hope the Augusta Chronicle and the community pushes for the changes .

MrClen1944 As noc noc said, he was just the hatchet man for Huck and the other Regents. The Regents are wanting to de-personalize institutions and take away the community feel. They want us to know, this is their empire and you local yokels in the State had best remember your place. “Infinity and beyond.” And, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

BOR The Board of Regents are solely responsible for Azziz being employed at MCG, and for this golden parachute. The members of the BOR are not elected, but appointed by the people we elect. Governor (Deal maker)(AKA junk yard Nathan) and BOR Chairman Huckaby are the ones to fault for this fiasco.

Questions that Deserve Answers

There are some very astute readers and commenters in Augusta. They raised many good points. We have an unelected and out of control  Board of Regents that act with impunity and gladly will throw away our tax money on deals like this, but do nothing to help keep tuition costs in check or improve the USG as a whole. They reject 97% of student and employee appeals sight unseen. They hire a clearly unqualified candidate like Hank Huckaby to become the $500,000 a year chancellor simply because he won’t make waves with politicians. They allow the whole state to see their arrogance on display with the choice of the name Georgia Regents university instead of the University of Augusta or Augusta University. They flip us the finger because they know they have all the power and no one to monitor what they do. The legislature has practically no oversight powers over the Board of Regents at all. They are in essence as powerful as the Supreme Court but also have the power of the legislature as well  since they control billions of our tax dollars and can spend it how they choose.

I think the likelihood that the resignation of Ricardo Azziz was not voluntary is fairly high. He had a great salary and lived in a mansion rent free. I think the Board of Regents and possibly Huckaby as well wanted him gone for some unknown reason and they started negotiations long ago. To avoid a lawsuit they offered him this ridiculously generous severance package to keep his mouth shut.

Education in America is broken and I don’t think many would argue otherwise. From pre-k to Graduate schools there are major issues we need to solve. One area that rarely gets much notice is the inflated salaries of elite educrats. Chancellor Huckaby who lacks a doctorate makes over $500,000 a year. His main Henchman who only has a Master’s in Religion named Rob Watts makes $250,000 a year. Hank Huckaby gave Watts a $27,000 raise this last year right at the time Watts laid off around 300 employees.I bet that salary bump would have kept someone employed at GPC.

Superintendents are another area where their inflated salaries do not match market conditions in the private sector. Often teachers that are unable to hack it in the classroom will get an advanced degree like a EdD. so they can move into a non-teaching admin position which pays far more salary. Romain Dallemand, the disgraced former Bibb County superintendent, pocketed $350,000 after he quit right after his contract was renewed. He left the Bibb county school system $52 million poorer with nothing to show for that besides it being in shambles.

I understand the president of Apple or Wal Mart making astronomical salaries since these are private businesses. I also understand the president of Harvard or Emory making large salaries since these are private universities. What I do not understand is how we reached a point where we have allowed an elite educrat class to develop with salaries often among the highest of any job public or private in the entire state. These “admin’ salaries seem unaffected by recessions and have skyrocketed the last two decades while the warriors in the actual classroom where the real work gets done has remained largely stagnant. If you make $500,000 a year as a public employee you better be able to prove you deserve it with some amazing results. But alas few of these inflated salaries include any sort of performance clause. If you destroy a school system or excel, you receive the same salary.

Ricardo Azziz was one of the lucky ones. They wanted him gone for some unknown reason but he was able to get a very generous golden parachute. Other former employees of the USG have not been nearly so fortunate. Just ask Denise Caldon, Anthony Tricoli, Todd Brandenburg and so many others who either lost their homes or nearly did as they were left unemployable for being whistleblowers and not playing ball with the all powerful BOR like Azziz chose to do. Don’t expect Attorney General Sam Olens to intervene either since he has actively been doing his best to fight to keep these cases sealed and not going to court in front a jury.

The entire University System of Georgia is controlled by a group of wealthy and hand-picked friends of the Governor more concerned with buying themselves a private plane than the difficulties students and teachers face in the USG. They control billions of the USG budget and the taxpayers and even the legislators we elect have no oversight or power over them. Until we get a massive overhaul of the entirely broken USG and BOR system itself then you can expect for people like Ricardo Azziz and Hank Huckaby to continue to be appointed and make out like bandits. Issues like taxes, transportation, and medical cannabis are indeed important issues that need to be handled but so is a complete reform of the USG and BOR.

 

 

 

About The Author

3 Comments

  1. Tricoli: A great president made scapegoat February 3, 2015 Reply
  2. Screwed by the BOR January 20, 2015 Reply
  3. Dr. Dawg January 18, 2015 Reply

Reply