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August 2006
Campus abuzz with new beginnings, great expectations
By Chancellor James Moeser The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for The Chapel Hill Herald

 

I never fail to be amazed by the way it all comes together. The construction wraps, the books are stocked, the residence halls outfitted, welcome and directional signs posted and sidewalks and parking lots filled. The passage from the second week of August to the third is the epitome of a team effort, made by students, faculty, staff and volunteers.

The Daily Tar Heel got it right with a front page headline: "Campus comes to life." Our community has just welcomed more than 26,000 new or returning residents.

Over the summer, assorted roadway projects and construction efforts were completed as we navigated the peak of the campus' ambitious $1.8 billion capital construction project. We are now more than halfway to the completion of this initiative.

The newly opened project with perhaps the most immediate impact is Ram Village, a South Campus "neighborhood" of five new residence halls with 253 apartment-style units that are home to more than 900 Carolina students.

Other projects are slated for completion this year. Perhaps chief among those is the FedEx Global Education Center, which will open in early spring. A hub of international studies, research, public service and cultural exchange, this building is a stunning piece of modern architecture by the award-winning Andrea Lears of Boston, beautifully sited to address Pittsboro Street as one travels south.

I have encouraged our students to become involved in the life of the university and of the greater community. I invite you to partake as well.

Here is a sampling of recent highlights and upcoming events:

" University staff partnered with returning students and Chapel Hill police officers last weekend to form "Good Neighbor" teams, walking neighborhoods near the campus, helping off-campus students get off on the right foot with their neighbors. Now in its fifth year, the Good Neighbor Initiative illustrates the essence of what being a good neighbor means: having respect for others.

" On Sunday night, we welcomed students back with the 10th annual FallFest, an alcohol-free street fair celebration on South Road. About 19,000 people - from the campus and greater community - enjoyed the festivities.

" Student government president James Allred of Chapel Hill and I led one of the many small group discussions of "The Namesake" by Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri. The Summer Reading Program is a magnificent way to stoke the academic spirit for incoming students. This novel about immigrant life, assimilation and the challenges young people encounter as they leave home for the first time provided much for all of us to explore.

" In fiscal year 2006, Carolina's total research funding reached a new high of $593 million. We have more doubled the amount of such funding received as recently as 1997 - and this during a year in which appropriations to the National Institutes of Health were cut. We have a proven ability to contribute to the local and regional economies. But attracting more private funding is critical to continued growth; something we will realize, in part with the successful launch of Carolina North.

" Nothing embodies the spirit and culture of Carolina as well as the Carolina Covenant - now in its third year. The Covenant provides academically qualified financially-challenged students with a debt-free four-year education provided they maintain their grades and do at least 12 hours of work-study each week. Of the 782 Covenant Scholars enrolled for fall semester, 14 are from Orange County - including nine from Chapel Hill and Carrboro - and five are from Chatham County.

" Building on the Covenant's success, next month the university will host a national conference of higher education, immigration, financial aid and policy leaders - "The Politics of Inclusion: Higher Education at a Crossroads." This initiative will tackle head on the looming national crisis of access to higher education. The conference has received generous sponsorship from the Lumina Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority/College Foundation, Inc.

" The resurgence of the arts at Carolina continues in a big way, and I truly hope you will partake of it. The arts so enrich all of our lives and the life of this community. Come see the world-class performances of the 2006-07 Carolina Performing Arts Series or take in a PlayMakers play.

" There will be plenty to cheer about. Volleyball, field hockey, and the men's and women's soccer and cross country teams are among those getting their seasons underway. On Saturday, the football team kicks off play hosting Rutgers. We welcome your support of these talented student-athletes who represent this community well in the classroom and on and off the field.

If you're interested in hearing more about what we have planned this year, I invite you to join with the campus community as I deliver my annual State of the University address. It is set for 3 p.m. on Sept. 6 in the Great Hall of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union.

Before closing, I'd like to mention that Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy, retiring town manager Cal Horton and manager-elect Roger Stancil visited campus this past week. Roger is a Carolina grad who had a distinguished career in public management in Fayetteville before accepting his new post. We wish Cal the best and appreciate all he's done for Carolina. We look forward to working with Roger and others in local government, helping to realize together the next chapter of the university's and community's future.

James Moeser is chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He welcomes readers’ messages at jmoeser@unc.edu





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