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Augusta, GA

AU president gives final State of the University address

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AU president gives final State of the University address


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – On Wednesday, Augusta University President Brooks Keel gave his final State of the University address.

Keel is retiring this summer.

In the address, Keel highlighted past and present accomplishments.

He mentioned things like the largest freshman class ever with 10,000 students, the Wellstar MCG Health partnership, the new statewide transfer program for cybersecurity degrees and the 35% increase in academic programs since 2015.

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The university also seen a 32% increase in degrees awarded since 2015.

Keel says it’s not just his final State of the University address. It’s his best one yet because it’s the most they have ever accomplished.

It’s an address that is bittersweet.

“We are sad that Dr. Keel is leaving. He’s just such a nice guy. He has guided the ship through name changes, through difficult times. But the one thing that his legacy will be is that he has set us up for the future,” said Angel Lovett, director of parent and family engagement.

It’s also a time to celebrate everything they’ve added.

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“The name change, the building of the math and science, getting us a new parking deck, the new dorms,” said Lovett.

Russell Keen, executive vice president for administration and chief of staff, said: “If you look at where we were in 2015 to where we are today, it’s a remarkably different institution with remarkable support from the campus and the community.”

At a time when enrollment is tough for lots of universities, AU saw an increase.

“The five years prior to him getting here, it decreased 3% every year. And so, if you look at where we are this year, we’ve increased 27% in our enrollment over the last nine years, which is huge,” said Keen.

Keel has just 46 days left at the university before his retirement. He says he is excited to continue to watch the university grow.

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“Thank you all so much for what you do day in and day out to make this place. You have a lot to be proud of, because of these folks sitting to your left and your right. We look forward to following this place from afar and watching the great progress that you make. So, thank you so much, and one more time, Go Jags,” said Keel.

While talking about what’s in store for the university, Keel signed off saying the future is bright for Augusta University.



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Augusta, GA

I-TEAM UPDATE: Augusta leaders stall silent alarm discussion

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I-TEAM UPDATE: Augusta leaders stall silent alarm discussion


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – For more than a month now, our I-TEAM has tracked errors and response times with Augusta’s Fire Department and 911 call center.  

On Tuesday, we were hoping to hear from Augusta commissioners on the subject for the first time.  

But that will have to wait. 

FULL COVERAGE:

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The topic was pulled from the agenda for Tuesday’s public safety committee meeting so they can talk about it in a legal meeting.  

Our I-TEAM uncovered nearly 150 cases where a dispatching error happened. 

One of those cases was in October 2023 when two people were killed in a house fire right across the street from a fire station.

Earlier this month, questions about the reliability of the Augusta Fire Department’s emergency response have caught the attention of Augusta Commission member Catherine Smith McKnight.

McKnight currently chairs Augusta Richmond County’s public safety committee.

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McKnight said she was unaware of any problems and the issue was never brought up in the committee or in commission.

However, McKnight says she now wants answers and says this safety concern is a priority.



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Augusta, GA

Inmate slain at Augusta prison; guard, 2 other inmates charged

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Inmate slain at Augusta prison; guard, 2 other inmates charged


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – An inmate died Saturday in an altercation at the Augusta State Medical Prison, and a correctional officer as well as two other prisoners were charged.

The slain inmate, Roderick Hayes, 29, was serving a 10-year sentence for cruelty to children out of Fulton County, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

His body has been turned over to the county coroner and will be transported to the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the official cause of death.

The death is being investigated by the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Office of Professional Standards, as is standard procedure. As a result, many details aren’t available because the investigation is ongoing.

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The agency confirmed the arrest of former Officer Lloyd Hopkins, who was terminated Saturday after failing to follow policies and procedures while working at Augusta State Medical Prison, according to the agency.

According to Columbia County jail records, Hopkins, 51, is being held on charges of party to the crime of murder, party to the crime of aggravated assault and violation of an oath of office.

The agency said inmates Brendon Moore and Andy Ulysse have been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.

Moore is serving time for crimes including rape, fleeing/eluding police, hijacking a motor vehicle, armed robbery, terroristic acts and threats, kidnapping and aggravated sodomy, according to prison records.

Ulysse is serving time for several crimes including kidnapping, armed robbery, false imprisonment and theft by taking, according to prison records.

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From left: Lloyd Hopkins, Brendon Moore and Andy Ulysse
From left: Lloyd Hopkins, Brendon Moore and Andy Ulysse(Contributed)

The Georgia Department of Corrections said in a statement:

“The GDC maintains a zero tolerance policy for individuals who choose to ignore their oath and jeopardize our non-negotiable mission of public safety. The actions of this individual does not reflect the hundreds of Officers who are committed each and every day to ensuring the safety of the public and the safe operations of our facilities.”

Inmate slayings aren’t unheard of at the prison. Among the deaths there:

Hayes’ records with the Georgia Department of Corrections show other offenses including sexual exploitation of a child, pimping a minor under 18, trafficking sexual servitude and burglary.



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Augusta, GA

‘Run to Remember’ 5K honors those who gave the ultimate sacrifice

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‘Run to Remember’ 5K honors those who gave the ultimate sacrifice


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Dozens of runners hit the trails on Monday in honor of the fallen in the Wear Blue Run to Remember 5k.

Each runner was assigned a veteran’s name so they could run in their honor.

Mahalia Marin is a veteran but also a part of the Student Veterans of America Association at Augusta University

“I’ve been deployed three times, I’m back here. There are many people who didn’t make it back. And we’re just here representing them. And so we speak their names, so we don’t forget,” said Marin.

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Coming home isn’t something everyone gets to do. So, on Memorial Day, they run in their honor and think about how each person paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“I actually just retired this past year. But this was one of my soldiers in Washington, one of my soldiers in San Antonio and also Germany. And the last soldier I was stationed with at Fort Stewart we deployed together to Iraq and got killed over there,” said Jamie Graham, a veteran.

During the run, 133 posters could be seen along the sidelines with names and photos of fallen members since 9/11 who served in the CSRA, once lived in the area, or were friends and family members of locals.

“I lost my father in active duty Army when I was six. He was deployed in Iraq in 2010. So it’s, it’s been very rough. But starting this organization at Augusta University has really helped to not only educate the community on what Goldstar families are but to also bring in local, other Goldstar families who go to Augusta University,” said Caitlyn Burner, founder and President of Augusta Goldstar Foundation.

Burner came to honor her dad. Burner’s boyfriend and his family also ran in her dad’s honor.

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“When I was running through it, I just used it as a point to just kind of go as hard as I can because we wouldn’t be here without any without their service. So I just use that as motivation just to do my best,” said Stephen Webster, Burner’s boyfriend.

They’re showing support for those you know and even those you don’t while remembering what this holiday is truly about.

“It’s pretty cool that people, people really do care. And they’re out here showing it and they’re running for fallen soldiers who they don’t even know,” said Burner.

For more information on Goldstar families and how to support them, click here.

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