January 22, 2006 Carolina North planning
process emphasizes collaboration By Chancellor James Moeser The University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill for The Chapel Hill Herald
The university and the local
community have begun the new year with an important new phase
of planning efforts for Carolina North, which we envision
as a vibrant setting for research and innovation that will
enhance the university’s academic mission.
Carolina North is crucial to the university’s future.
We urgently need space for new academic buildings, business
partnerships, and public outreach. For example, one
of the initial projects envisioned for Carolina North is First
School, an innovative school and laboratory for early childhood
education. First School is being developed in partnership
with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro public schools and our own Frank
Porter Graham Child Development Institute.
Carolina North also presents a unique opportunity to provide
housing for people of all income levels working at the university.
As various advisory groups have conceived it so far, housing
at Carolina could coexist with academic and commercial buildings,
parks and green space in compact, high-density neighborhoods
that would not contribute to suburban sprawl.
Until recently, these visions for Carolina North were just
that – visions. Today, we are ready to begin the
transition from vision to reality. The first and most
important step in that transition is to engage the people
of our community and the citizens of our state in a dialogue
about the guiding principles for Carolina North.
Some months ago, Tony Waldop, vice chancellor for research
and economic development, and Nancy Suttenfield, vice chancellor
for finance and administration, began discussing a collaborative
process in which the university and local communities could
engage productively to advance our vision for Carolina North
and, at the same time, appropriately respect the goals and
values of the local communities. As they sketched out
a potential process, it immediately became clear that the
leader of this effort would have to be – first and foremost
– a member of this community. We were looking for someone
respected, someone who could get all the parties around the
table talking constructively, and someone who could build
consensus among stakeholder groups.
It soon became clear that Ken Broun was that person.
Ken is a long-time member of the community, a former Chapel
Hill mayor, and a distinguished faculty member and former
dean of the law school at Carolina. At my request, he has
agreed to serve as chair of a leadership advisory committee
that will seek broad community input for the planning of Carolina
This committee will include representation from the university,
the local communities and the state and will address issues
including fiscal equity, housing, transportation and zoning.
The committee also may form subcommittees to tackle issues
with more specificity.
This process is intended to produce a set of principles that
will guide the university in its preparation of plans that
will be submitted to the local governing bodies in their regulatory
functions. Tony Waldrop remains the leader of our efforts
on campus to advance Carolina North, and he and others in
the university will be responsible for applying the principles
developed by the leadership advisory committee.
We share with Ken a commitment to an open dialogue about
Carolina North. All meetings of the committee will be
open to the public. We also value the work of the committees
of citizens who have carefully considered many of the issues
we face in our planning, and we would ask the leadership advisory
committee to consider their recommendations. Meanwhile,
we will respond very soon to the Horace Williams Citizens
Committee report, which we regard as a valuable contribution
to the thinking about Carolina North.
One of the topics covered in that report is sustainability,
a goal we take very seriously at UNC. We are committed to
making Carolina North a model of sustainability, building
on our successes and improvements on the main campus.
For starters, we have pledged to work with the State to protect
environmentally sensitive areas of Carolina North. As
part of its responsibilities, the leadership advisory committee
will integrate sustainability principles and goals into each
of its activities. These principles would include not
only environmental considerations but also factors related
to long-term social and economic sustainability.
Certainly, Carolina North represents an unprecedented opportunity
for the university to fulfill its promise as a major research
university with a commitment of service to the citizens of
our state. But the opportunities are great for our local
communities, as well. Working together, we can find
ways to share the benefits of Carolina North and enhance the
quality of life for generations to come.
James Moeser is chancellor of the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill. He welcomes readers’ messages