Two foundations that support Augusta University will become one effective July 1. The board members of each foundation voted unanimously in late May for the Georgia Health Sciences Foundation to merge into the Augusta University Foundation, a transition that will take place over fiscal year 2022.
“This is a no-brainer,” said Dennis Sodomka, board chair of the Augusta University Foundation. “Both foundations are here to serve Augusta University. We are doing the same things for different parts of the university, and it makes sense to bring our groups together.”
“We realized it was absolutely the right thing to do as advocates of Augusta University, and we look forward to the journey ahead of us,” said Debbie Layman, Georgia Health Sciences Foundation board chair and CEO.
Established in 2008, the Georgia Health Sciences Foundation has largely been focused on supporting the Health Sciences Campus of Augusta University, while the AU Foundation — formed in 1963 to advance the mission of Augusta College, and later Augusta State University — has largely supported the Summerville Campus.
In 2012, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted to consolidate Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University. In 2015, under President Brooks A. Keel, the Augusta University legacy brand was established for the consolidated institution.
“I truly believe that since Dr. Keel came along and helped unify us as one university, it is the right thing for us to unify the foundations as well,” said Al Harris, who will co-chair the merged foundation with Layman when Sodomka’s two-year term ends June 30. “This merger will really strengthen us as one entity to better serve our students, and it’s in the best interest of Augusta University for us to be in one accord.”
“Much in the same way that the Summerville Campus and the Health Sciences Campus have come together to create Augusta University, the AU Foundation and the Georgia Health Sciences Foundation will follow suit and be able to represent every college and operating unit on campus under the Augusta University name,” Layman said.
“Combining a large, diverse group of trustees from the AU and GHS foundations will bring a wealth of insight and experience to one table for the benefit of the university as a whole,” said Interim VP of Foundations Stephen Lamb. “This is big step we have wanted to take for some time, and I am excited that we are finally able to move forward together.”
“We will also realize significant financial benefits,” Lamb said. “The unified foundation can save money by combining duplicated efforts, such as audits, reports and other administrative costs.” At the same time, “we can capitalize on a bigger combined pool of investments, and those savings can go back into the university,” said Sodomka.
All agree that the foundations merger is a significant step in setting the stage to promote future growth and prestige at AU.
“As an 8-year-old university with nearly two centuries of history, we’ve become uniquely adept at bridging our past and future,” said President Keel. “We are extremely grateful to these legacy foundations, not only for their faithful support, but for their collective wisdom in seeing a better path forward and the commitment to work together to navigate the bright future of this thriving university.”
“Augusta University really is a world-class university,” said Sodomka. “We are on the cutting edge of so many things here, and this was even before cyber. President Keel has done a tremendous job in moving the university forward.”
“The university metrics for admissions, new programs, advanced degrees and accelerated programs into the health sciences colleges have been so very impressive,” added Layman. “This is a very exciting time to be a foundation trustee at Augusta University.”