State of the University Address
to Great versus Good and Great"
by Chancellor James Moeser
September 6, 2006
Great Hall, Frank Porter Graham Student Union
Balancing Research and Teaching
Good afternoon. Contemplating the start of my seventh year as your
chancellor and thinking about what I wanted to say today, the following
story from a friend via the Internet came to mind.
A man in a hot-air balloon realized that he was lost. He reduced
altitude and spotted a woman below. "Excuse me," he shouted.
"Can you help? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour
ago, but I don't know where I am."
The woman looked up and replied: "You are in a hot-air balloon
hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between
40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west
"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist.
"I am," replied the woman. "How did you know?"
"Well," said the balloonist, "everything you told
me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your
information - and the fact is, I am still lost. Frankly, you've
not been much help so far."
"Well," said the woman, "you must be an administrator."
"I am," said the balloonist. "How did you know?"
"Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you
are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due
to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have
no idea how to keep. And you expect people beneath you to solve
your problems. The fact is that you are in exactly the same place
you were before we met - but, now, somehow, it's my fault."
Let us not make that story about us. Let us know where we are and
where we are going.
There are people here today who help keep us on track, and I would
like to recognize them now and ask them to stand. Please hold your
applause until all have been introduced. First, the chairman of
our Board of Trustees, Nelson Schwab of Charlotte, and Trustee Roger
Perry of Chapel Hill. We are fortunate to have such committed trustees
giving back to their alma mater. Also here are Chancellor Emeritus
Bill Aycock, one of my heroes; Scott Maitland, chair of our Board
of Visitors, who are key volunteer ambassadors; Bernadette Gray-Little,
a longtime professor and former dean of the College of Arts and
Sciences, and now executive vice chancellor and provost; David Perry,
the School of Medicine's principal business officer and administrator
for years, and now interim vice chancellor for finance and administration;
Jack Boger, an alumnus and UNC law professor, and now dean of the
School of Law; Jean Folkerts, formerly professor at George Washington
University, and now dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication;
and Madeline Levine, another distinguished UNC faculty member, who
is interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Let me ask the Chancellor's Cabinet and all academic deans to stand.
Also our new campus leaders: Faculty Chair Joseph Templeton; Employee
Forum Chair Ernie Patterson; Student Body President James Allred;
and Graduate and Professional Student Federation President Lauren
We must also thank some key individuals who are not here today,
but who are responsible for the best budget this University has
received in years. We are enormously grateful for the work of the
North Carolina General Assembly. At last, state employees received
the recognition they deserved. This year's five-and-a-half percent
pay increase for our SPA employees was the largest in many years
and a huge step forward. We were overjoyed with the average six
percent increase for faculty. I will have more to say about that
in a moment.
Governor Easley and our legislative leaders again made education
a major priority for North Carolina. Much of this success resulted
from the passionate and effective leadership of UNC President Erskine
Bowles. We all worked together as a team, and the results speak
for themselves. This successful collaboration is proof of the value
of the system to UNC-Chapel Hill, and I would like to think, of
Chapel Hill's value to the system.
. . .
Over the past several years, we have talked about what it means
to be a great university - to be the leading public university in
America - striving for greatness.
Jim Collins, author of the best-selling book Good to Great,
defines greatness not as a function of circumstance. Greatness,
he says, "is largely a matter of conscious choice." 1
Collins describes Carolina's approach. We have made tough decisions
and instilled discipline in our budget. Our priorities mark the
way. We are driven to be better.
Like Collins, we have a conviction that greatness is a journey,
not a destination. The moment we think of ourselves as great, he
says, we will have begun our slide into mediocrity. 2
We have also talked about being good - good in the context of maintaining
high ethical and moral values - goodness as critical to achieving
The single most distinguishing feature of this University is its
goodness - its core values of commitment to the people of North
Carolina and the betterment of humankind. Charles Kuralt nailed
it in his 1993 Bicentennial remarks when he said:
Here we found something in the air. A kind of generosity,
a certain tolerance, a disposition toward freedom of action and
inquiry that has made of Chapel Hill, for thousands of us, a moral
center of the world." 3
So this is my thesis: we can aspire for greatness
good to great
and be both great and good.
The Quest for
Excellence: Good to Great
Strengthening Faculty Recruitment, Retention and Development
In our quest for greatness, our top priority remains unchanged
- to continue to strengthen support for faculty - so we can recruit
and retain the very best, and provide the tools faculty need to
excel. This is the key to everything. It all starts with the faculty,
and it quickly expands to staff and students.
We have an extraordinary academic culture - a true culture of excellence
- the magnet that attracts and keeps great faculty and staff. How
many times have I heard our faculty say that their greatest joy
is their colleagues - the pride of being associated with distinguished
people in a collegial environment?
Let me share one example. Our chemistry department is recognized
among the nation's best, and if forced to list our top five departments,
I would include chemistry. This faculty has maintained its faith
in each other and the University for years in the grossly inadequate
Venable Hall, yet they consistently rank among our top-funded science
departments. Now they are moving into their fabulous new building,
the W. Lowry and Susan S. Caudill Laboratories. Holden Thorp, chemistry's
chair, says the core purpose of his department is creating new knowledge
and producing confident, independent scientists. It is not and never
has been funding.
This is a department where colleagues celebrate one another's success,
as they did the other day when one of them learned about a prestigious
national award now pending the funding agency's formal announcement.
This award will go to a valued colleague whom the department supported
during some lean times, an outstanding teacher and advisor, as well
as researcher. Chemistry gets it. It is going from good to great.
It is just one example among many that I could cite at Carolina.
Another measure of the faculty's reputation is its presence in
the national academies. Our two newest academy members are Christopher
R. Browning, Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of History,
and Edward "Ted" Salmon, the James Larkin and Iona Mae
Ballou Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology. Professor Browning
specializes in the history of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. Professor
Salmon studies the structures inside cells that play a role in how
Last spring, they were elected to the American Academy of Arts
and Sciences for preeminent contributions to their disciplines and
society at large. The University now has 30 members in this academy,
a mark of great prestige. Professors Browning and Salmon, please
stand and let us recognize you.
Professors Browning and Salmon both hold endowed professorships.
Last year we created 29 new endowed professorships with gifts to
the Carolina First Campaign, which had another record year in fiscal
2006. That brings us to 181 new professorships toward our goal of
Of course, the most obvious and tangible elements in attracting
and retaining great faculty are salaries and benefits. Thanks to
this new state budget, supplemented with our own campus- and school-based
tuition, we made great progress on faculty salaries. However, achieving
our goals long term will require a sustained effort. Our Five-Year
Financial Plan calls for reaching the 67th percentile for faculty
salaries among our public and private peers by 2011. That will require
average annual six percent legislative salary increases over the
next five years, supplemented by modest campus-based tuition increases.
If the state makes this commitment, we can hold tuition increases
to moderate and predictable levels. Until this most recent year,
however, campus-based tuition has been our salvation in maintaining
a competitive position for faculty.
When people ask what is distinctive about Carolina, I have a ready
answer. It is the almost perfect balance we maintain between great
research and a great learning environment for our students.
I see countless examples of our most respected, our most distinguished
scholars excelling in the classroom - taking pride in the accomplishments
of their students, engaging them in research and creativity. Such
dedication among the faculty has been vital in the many successes
we have to celebrate. One of many examples is from the Department
of Physics and Astronomy. Assistant Professor Daniel Reichart and
his students documented the oldest known explosion - the afterglow
of a gamma ray burst 12.8 billion years ago. Undergraduate Josh
Haislip was the first to analyze that data from UNC's telescope
in Chile, and Josh is the first author on the scholarly publication
about this great discovery. That in itself is a tribute to Dr. Reichart
and our academic culture.
This fall, we are implementing a new undergraduate curriculum,
a once-in-a-generation event. The key word in this curriculum is
connections - enhancing connections between classes, between
disciplines, and between teaching and research.
Tied to the new curriculum is the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)
developed as part of our 10-year reaccreditation. The QEP makes
the student learning experience global and enhances undergraduate
research. We have committed nearly $2.5 million over the next three
years to implement the QEP, which together with the new curriculum
combine to make a good university greater.
Recognizing the importance of graduate students, we have increased
the minimum stipends for teaching assistants to $7,000 per semester,
up $1,000 over last year and supported by campus-based tuition.
The biggest advocates of this increase were the undergraduates serving
on the Tuition Advisory Task Force who know the importance of TAs.
They know that this will help us recruit the very best graduate
students to Chapel Hill.
We are the national leader for accessibility. U.S. News and
World Report just ranked us first among public universities
for the second consecutive year under the heading "Great Schools,
Great Prices." Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine
rated UNC as the best value among all publics for the fifth time.
To attract more high-achieving students, we have expanded merit-based
scholarships. Through the Carolina First Campaign, we have created
more than 600 scholarships and fellowships to support need and merit,
a 60 percent increase since the campaign began. We now direct all
of our trademark licensing revenue to scholarships, allowing us
to add 60 new merit scholarships last year, a number that increased
to 68 scholarships this fall. Every time you buy a Carolina T-shirt,
you are supporting scholarships.
Last year our students had tremendous success in winning distinguished
national and international scholarships or fellowships. We led public
universities with eight. Our students won a Rhodes, a Goldwater,
two Luces, a Marshall, a Truman, a Udall, as well as a spot on the
USA Today All-USA College Academic Team.
With all of this success, we can still be better. Graduation rates
constitute one of the most important metrics in measuring undergraduate
quality. I first raised this issue two years ago. Since then, the
trustees have asked for a comprehensive plan this fall for improving
graduation rates. President Bowles is asking every campus in the
system to do this.
Currently, our graduation rates are 71 percent for four years and
84 percent for six years. These are the highest in the UNC system
and above most of the Association of American Universities.
Our four-year rates exceed those for three of our most distinguished
peers: Berkeley, UCLA, and Michigan. But our six-year rates lag
behind this group by three percent. I shall propose to the trustees
in November that we set a goal of matching the six-year graduation
rates of these three universities - 87 percent - and extending our
four-year graduation rate to 75 percent by 2010.
We need to set an expectation for students to graduate in eight
semesters, or four years. The faculty has approved measures to move
us toward this goal. The new curriculum will strengthen and integrate
our academic offerings. Next fall, students will be subject to new
progress-toward-degree requirements and increased academic eligibility
standards. Students having difficulties will receive earlier warnings
and more help from the University, including additional advisors,
to stay on track. We want students to be ready to graduate on time
as they begin the fourth year.
We should never be content with the status quo. Good enough
is never good enough - not for an institution that aspires to
be America's leading public university. Going from good to great.
Fostering Success in Research and Creativity
Over the past six years, we have followed a strategy of investing
in research centers of excellence. We have built nationally recognized
programs in genomics and genetics, advanced materials science, and
nanotechnology. Our scientists are making discoveries that will
improve people's lives. Such work complements our great strengths
in the social sciences, humanities, and the arts.
Our strategy has paid off. External funding was up nearly 2.4 percent,
to $593 million from $579 million. While funding per se is not our
goal, because it is competitive and peer-reviewed, it is the best
single metric we have to evaluate our comparative position as a
research university. One noteworthy success is the National Institutes
of Health "Roadmap for Medical Research" initiatives.
For the second year since the inception of the program, we led the
nation with the most grants, this year with eight, ahead of Vanderbilt,
Columbia, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins,
Harvard, Stanford, and Duke.
This is very good, but we can do more. Let us today set a goal
of securing $1 billion in external research funding by 2015. This
is a challenge that the faculty and our campus community can and
should embrace. It will not be easy, but we can do it.
This will require a significant investment by the State of North
Carolina that is reflected in our budget request to President Bowles
and General Administration. We can show the state an incredible
return on the investment it already makes in faculty research. For
example, the 11 centers and institutes reporting to the vice chancellor
for research and economic development received more than $6 million
in state funding for research in 2004-05 and brought in another
$82 million in external grants and contracts. That represents a
leveraging of almost $13 for every $1 of state support. The medical
school's centers and institutes produce a return approaching $30
for every $1 in state support for research.
To realize our long-term goal, we must increase our computational
capacity to support the faculty's interdisciplinary work, to be
competitive for grants on a much larger scale. The Renaissance Computing
Institute, or RENCI, is one critical lever that will make us more
competitive with the National Science Foundation, the NIH, and other
sources. When our plans are fully realized, RENCI will support initiatives
that build upon existing strengths and help attract new talent.
Achieving success will maintain our leadership position among research
universities and generate economic benefits for North Carolina.
Let us be crystal clear about this: $1 billion is a stretch goal,
more than $200 million above what we might be expected to reach
at our current trajectory. Some have argued that this is too high
that the uncompensated cost of this research
will be unaffordable. To use a Jim Collins term, this is a "big,
hairy, audacious goal," appropriate for a university aspiring
to be the leading public university. We should dream no small dreams.
At the same time, we must also remember to keep our balance, to
maintain our strengths in the humanities and the arts, and to stay
true to our commitment to great teaching. We do this now. We can
do this with a stretch goal. Good to great. Great and good.
Truly Global University
If there is a theme for this academic year, it is globalization.
In the spring, we will dedicate the Global Education Center, which
will bring together a robust array of academic programs, research,
and student services. A major gift from the FedEx Corporation made
possible the completion of the building.
Throughout 2007, the University will celebrate our accomplishments
in global education.
Next spring, we will dedicate our new European Study Center in London.
This center will be a base for the Honors Program, augmenting a
relationship with King's College, London.
Collaborations are flourishing with the National University of
Singapore, where we have developed a joint undergraduate degree
program that is path-breaking among our U.S. peers. In last year's
address, I recounted my visit with 25 of our students in Singapore.
A few days ago, one of these students shared with his organ instructor,
my wife Susan, his own excitement in showing our campus to students
now here from Singapore.
We have more than 120 faculty and staff in working groups with
China. We have signed several memorandums of understanding with
collaborators and held joint programs with the Chinese government
and Tsinghua University.
We led, for the third consecutive year, all public research universities
for the percentage of undergraduates studying abroad, nearly 37
percent. In 2000, our rate was about 15 percent. Six years ago in
this address, I announced the goal that every undergraduate would
have a significant international experience. These gains show that
when we establish goals and pay attention to them, we can make good
things happen, even great things.
Study abroad has increasingly become an integral part of the Carolina
experience. Former Trustee Chair Earl N. "Phil" Phillips
believes in the educational value of exploring other countries.
He has established the Phillips Ambassadors Program with a generous
gift that will provide scholarships to 50 undergraduates studying
in Asia. This is a great example of enlightened philanthropy by
our former U.S. Ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean. Phil traveled
from High Point to be here today; let us show our appreciation.
Worldwide Reach in Health
Carolina is an international powerhouse in global health, with
a significant presence around the world.
In Malawi, our researchers are fighting to conquer infectious diseases,
such as malaria and HIV/AIDS.
In China and Madagascar, our scientists are helping stop the resurgence
of syphilis. In 60 villages in India, we are working to improve
the development of toddlers.
We are active in South Africa, in Russia, Thailand, Cambodia, the
Dominican Republic, South America, and the Caribbean.
Last year, we established a Partnership Program in Global Health,
funded by the NIH with a $400,000 grant that the University is matching
to expand our global health curriculum and research. Only 12 grants
were awarded worldwide.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recognized our work with
a $22 million grant for a clinical trial of a new oral drug to treat
African sleeping sickness, which threatens the lives of millions.
Our faculty led an international consortium in developing this drug.
If approved, it would be the first new treatment for sleeping sickness
in 50 years.
We will draw from the leadership of key faculty in medicine and
public health to develop the UNC Institute for Global Health and
Infectious Diseases. We are in the early stages of development,
identifying funding and involving private partners and other institutions.
It matters that our faculty bring such a sophisticated level of
expertise to the world's health needs. This is what a great public
research university does. It enables outstanding scientists to follow
their commitment to discovery to help relieve human suffering and
From Chapel Hill to the world. From good to great.
President Bowles has set in motion a process to make the entire
UNC system more efficient and more effective, a process we will
apply to some of our most critical issues.
Chief among them is replacing our aging information systems and
re-engineering our business processes. This is no easy task. It
is complicated by our antique technological infrastructure, our
decentralized business processes, and a maze of federal and state
regulations that must be accommodated. The result is a barely functioning
complex of business services.
This as a huge challenge
and an opportunity. I have asked
Provost Gray-Little to head this project, working closely with Dan
Reed and David Perry. Solving our technology problems will be a
vast and expensive undertaking, affecting every aspect of the University.
It begins by looking at all of our business processes and asking
the questions, "How many steps in this process are really necessary,
and how many can we eliminate?"
The challenge, given our decentralization, will be for some of
us to relinquish a process that we "own." We simply cannot
hold ourselves above the need to change and adapt. We need to lead
with innovation. The payoff will be a leaner, more nimble university.
How important is this? I believe it is as critical to our future
as our enormous capital construction program. If we do it well,
it will be one of the ways we become the leading public university.
Leading with innovation. Going from good to great.
with a Strong Moral Center: Great and Good
I turn now to the second part of my thesis, the noble idea that
Carolina can be both great and good - in Kuralt's words "a
moral center of the universe," a great public university committed
to access and affordability, to service and engagement, and to the
conviction that our mission includes the development of the heart,
as well as the mind.
Each year, we confer upon a select group of faculty and staff the
C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes the
incredible, selfless devotion of selected honorees. Let me take
this opportunity to recognize this year's winners. Please hold your
applause until all have been recognized:
Fred Clark, associate dean of academic services and professor of
Romance languages. Fred is a true champion of our efforts to encourage
student success through his work organizing mentors for the Carolina
Ray Hackney, biological safety officer and industrial hygiene manager.
Ray decodes complex federal and state regulations. When the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration extended its rules to laboratories,
one colleague wrote, "he saved us all."
Larry Keith, assistant dean of medical school admissions and director
of special programs, could not attend today. Larry has played a
key role in the medical school's high graduation rates among African
American and Native American students.
Esther Ko, housekeeper. More than 20 students and others from Alexander
Residence Hall nominated Esther because she goes above and beyond
her job duties. One student called her "the embodiment of the
Don Luse, director of the Carolina Union. Don pushed to promote
a "living room" atmosphere during the Union's renovations.
He sees the importance of an environment that fosters intellectual
and personal growth.
Lynn Williford, assistant provost for institutional research and
assessment. Her research skills are without compare, and they inform
every key decision we make. Her work was a key component of our
These are our very best colleagues.
This fall, we will move forward to launch a diversity plan drawn
from the recommendations of the Task Force on Diversity. This plan
sets five goals to advance our vision for a diverse and inclusive
campus community. It emphasizes accountability, education, and further
research, and I am grateful for the leadership of Archie Ervin,
associate provost for diversity and multicultural affairs.
Perhaps nothing embodies the spirit of the Carolina culture as
well as the Carolina Covenant. The concept we developed has spread
quickly to a growing list of public and private institutions. Next
week we will host a national conference, "The Politics of Inclusion:
Higher Education at a Crossroads." This conference is sponsored
by the Lumina Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Spencer
Foundation, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and the College Foundation
of North Carolina. The conference will examine the issue of access,
with the clear intent to influence national policy and practice.
This is the kind of event a leading university should convene.
Last year, we opened a new avenue of access from our neighboring
community colleges when the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation selected
Carolina to participate in a national program that will help community
college students earn UNC degrees after completing two years in
the community college. Students from Alamance, Durham, and Wake
county community colleges will benefit directly from this program.
With North Carolina and the World
One mark of our success with engagement is the health of our collaborations
with our sister UNC system campuses. Last year, I traveled to several
of them to explore new relationships. We have had conversations
with colleagues at Western Carolina about a partnership involving
basic research in Chapel Hill and applications technology in Cullowhee.
RENCI is working with faculty at East Carolina, Appalachian State,
and UNC-Asheville. Our School of Dentistry is partnering with East
Carolina to help expand dentistry education there and, subject to
the approval of the Board of Governors, to help create a new dentistry
school in Greenville. Our marine sciences faculty here and in Morehead
City have close working relationships with colleagues at UNC-Wilmington,
ECU, and N.C. State. Our School of Pharmacy has established a strong
collaboration with Elizabeth City State to deliver the Pharm.D.
degree to northeastern North Carolina. And we have a long history
of collaboration with N.C. State in biomedical engineering and in
many other areas.
At the same time, we have been examining our own public service
efforts. Last fall, I appointed the Engagement Task Force to recommend
how we could intensify our service to North Carolina, especially
in the areas of K-12 education, health, and economic development.
In education, our top priority is increasing the number of K-12
science and math teachers. This will require much closer collaborations
between the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences,
and our strategy will be to attract science and math majors into
a fourth-year accelerated teaching major.
In health care, our number one strategy is to expand the professional
workforce available to citizens. We will support enrollment increases
in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, and social
work. Related efforts include increasing access for students from
economically distressed areas through a scholarship program.
In economic development, we envision a management academy for fledgling
high-growth companies and a program to help state and local leaders
build sustainable economies. Success will depend on how well our
professional schools and social sciences departments join together
to support communities that most need our help.
The task force also examined the question of the recognition and
reward of engaged scholarship as a component of promotion, tenure,
and merit salary evaluations. This will be an important conversation
for us to have with the faculty.
Future: Carolina North
Our engagement with the state will be greatly enhanced by Carolina
North, our 21st Century living-and-learning community. We will pursue
this project tirelessly. It is absolutely critical to our future.
We want this new campus to be a national model for sustainability,
addressing the long-term needs of the University for accelerated
transfer of our new knowledge into the economy, housing for faculty
and staff, and new collaborations with the private sector.
A Leadership Advisory Committee of community, state, and University
representatives is recommending guiding principles for building
Carolina North. Last month, I appointed Professor Jack Evans as
executive director of Carolina North. Our trustees have directed
us to submit our zoning and development plan applications to local
governments by October 1st of next year.
We want the Carolina North campus to have an aesthetic quality
that will draw people to it and enhance the communities surrounding
it, just as the main campus has for two centuries. We believe it
can do all of that at the same time that it advances our missions
of teaching, research, and public service.
Good to great.
Last June officially marked the 250th anniversary of the birth
of William R. Davie, the University's founder and the creator of
public higher education in America. Davie had a great vision for
this University, created at the end of the 18th Century and the
beginning of the American era.
Today, we are the stewards of that great venture at the dawn of
a new century and a world as new and daunting as the one Davie faced.
We are called upon to make this University even greater - to go
from good to great. We are also called on to nurture and nourish
what it means to be a public university, to be both great
and good. And we must adapt this great and noble institution to
the 21st Century.
Good to great.
Great and good.
Collins, Jim. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the
and Others Don't. New York, N.Y: HarperCollins Publishing,
Inc., 2001, p. 11.
Collins, Jim. Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph
to Accompany Good to Great. Boulder, Colo.: www.jimcollins.com,
2005 p. 9.
Kuralt, Charles. Opening Ceremony Remarks, Bicentennial Observance,
Chapel Hill, N.C. Delivered October 12, 1993.