May 2006 More Space needed at
UNC By Chancellor James Moeser
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for The Chapel
Summer, in most cases, brings with it a different kind of
schedule at Carolina and a slower pace, even with this year's
record summer school enrollment of more than 8,500 students.
In recent years, summer has also meant an acceleration in
certain construction and renovation projects as we try to
minimize any disruption to the local and campus communities
during the regular academic year.
Commencement was two weeks ago today. And early the next
morning, as 36 new faculty and administrators and I were heading
out on the ninth annual Tar Heel Bus Tour, construction crews
cordoned off areas of North Campus to begin upgrades to the
main steam and hot water lines serving the Campus Y, South
Building, Bynum Hall, Steele Building, Gerrard Hall and the
Old Playmakers Theatre. Upcoming and extensive renovations
to those last two structures are part of our strong commitment
to historic preservation.
As the prevalence of construction cranes and equipment permeates
the campus, Carolina is in the midst of a capital construction
program that is among the most ambitious at any U.S. university.
Funding comes from the state's Higher Education Bond Referendum
and our investment in future excellence using non-state sources
including private gifts and overhead receipts from faculty
research grants. This development of new buildings and enhancement
of many old ones is critical to the university's academic
mission and future success.
As I write, about 95 percent of the $515 million in construction
and renovation projects resulting from the state's higher
education bond referendum has been completed or is under contract.
That represents more than a third of our total construction
program. We are rapidly nearing complete build-out of main
campus and, as many of you know, are considering the possibilities
of amazing discovery and innovation at Carolina North, a new
campus to be built on university property two miles north
in Chapel Hill. Our draft concept calls for combining academic
and research buildings, residences, businesses, green space
and public schools.
University leaders first identified the importance of developing
the Horace Williams tract 17 years ago. Chapel Hill, Carrboro
and the campus have evolved a good deal since then, and the
need for a living and learning community at what is now the
Horace Williams Airport has grown more acute. At Carolina
North, the university will find room to grow in new directions
while preserving the special qualities of the main campus.
As we are doing on the main campus, university staff will
endeavor to create at Carolina North a welcoming community
that honors the environment and serves the people. The principles
that we developed in our Campus Master Plan have guided the
construction program on our main campus. Our desire in creating
the Carolina North Leadership Advisory Committee has been
to solicit community input on principles to guide that development.
At its meeting this week, the university's Board of Trustees
made clear its desire to see substantive progress on Carolina
North, instructing the administration to report back to the
board at its March 2007 on the completed work of the Carolina
North Leadership Advisory Committee. The board further directed
that we submit zoning and land development applications for
Carolina North to the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and
to Orange County no later than Oct. 1, 2007.
Our goal for Carolina North is to expand the university's
multiple missions, boost innovation and redefine Carolina's
engagement with the region and the state. The need for space
is urgent because there are very few new building sites available
on the main campus and many existing buildings do not lend
themselves to the kinds of faculty interaction, interdisciplinary
collaboration and government and business engagement that
are needed as the university seeks to most effectively use
its resources to address society's pressing needs and attract
jobs and economy activity to the state.
A hallmark of Carolina's academic and research enterprise
is the ability of and focus by our faculty, staff and students
to collaborate across disciplines and in nontraditional ways.
One cannot do that effectively if siloed in spaces here and
there across Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Centrally located and
integrated space is needed for such entrepreneurship to flourish.
Carolina North will allow the university to continue to be
a leading public research institution in an increasingly competitive
environment, serving as a catalyst in helping the state be
a force in the new economy.
I have asked the Carolina North Leadership Advisory Committee
to help us be thoughtful stewards -- not only of the physical
landscape of Carolina North but of the idea and potential
of this campus and what it can mean to the university, our
community and to this state. While Carolina North will provide
room to grow, it has the potential of being a place of amazing
discovery and innovation and new model of sustainable community.
James Moeser is chancellor of the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill. He welcomes readers’ messages