2005 COMING HOME TO CHAPEL
AND CARRBORO By Chancellor James Moeser The University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill for The Chapel Hill Herald
About 60 percent of Carolina faculty and staff live outside
of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and we know from surveys that
some of them would like to live here. For many, housing prices
in this community have precluded their owning a home.
We intend to build new housing for UNC faculty and staff
on a portion of a 63-acre tract that we own close to Carolina
North. Last week, the university’s Board of Trustees
unanimously approved use of this property north of Homestead
Road as a site for reasonably priced employee housing –
the first step in our effort to build a neighborhood. Detailed
planning for the site will now begin.
The university’s future success depends on our ability
to attract and retain the highest-caliber faculty and staff.
This wonderful community is a major asset in that regard.
Carolina Commons, as we are calling this new endeavor, would
provide a range of housing options in an effort to best accommodate
the budgets and needs of a varied faculty and staff. We envision
a neighborhood of approximately 140 single-family homes, town
homes and condominiums priced so more of our employees can
afford them. A lot of the details will come as we work with
our faculty and staff to develop the neighborhood plan.
Our goal is to provide reasonably priced quality homes for
members of the Carolina faculty and staff to make it easier
for them to buy a home in one of the state’s most robust
housing markets. This neighborhood will be our first venture
in building homes for faculty and staff, but I hope not our
last. Universities across the country are increasingly making
this kind of commitment to their employees.
On campus this week, we have heard positive reaction to this
news. Informal conversations with faculty and staff alike
indicate there is excitement about the prospect of Carolina
Commons. “Where do I sign up?,” some have asked
enthusiastically. “Is it too late to be included?”
In keeping with our fiduciary and community responsibilities,
we will continue to explore opportunities to use university
assets appropriately to benefit our faculty and staff. As
we increase their options for reasonably priced housing in
Chapel Hill and Carrboro, we will continue to honor our commitment
to partner with community leaders, neighbors and others to
work for solutions to address the important issues facing
Shorter commutes and increased engagement in Chapel Hill
and Carrboro by people who work here benefit them and also
those of us already living here. Moving more Carolina faculty
and staff into homes of their own here “in town”
is a must for the university’s continued excellence.
Improved access to housing nearer to the university can only
strengthen Carolina’s recruitment and retention of top
faculty and staff.
Like many of you, those who come to work at Carolina wish
to find a home close to the campus and within the Chapel Hill-Carrboro
school district. They’ve chosen to work at a major research
university and they anticipate living in an energized and
As I told the Board of Trustees this week, if we do this
well and do this right, it will inform the process for what
we plan to do on a larger scale at Carolina North.
From a practical standpoint, increasing the number of UNC
employees living within the Chapel Hill Transit service area
is key to our transportation strategy. We know, too, that
campuses thrive when faculty and staff are positioned to easily
and naturally include the campus and surrounding areas in
their non-work activities and time.
While salary is most often cited when talk turns to faculty/staff
recruitment and retention, quality of life, too, is a strong
factor in the equation. Meeting the expectation of faculty
and staff that they might actually be able to afford to live
and raise their families near their campus home would benefit
For those faculty and staff members who are choosing to drive
to Carolina because cost has represented a barrier to homeownership
in the area, we want to provide Carolina Commons as a viable
alternative to longer commutes.
It’s always good to see a faculty member and her family
or a staff member and friends walking on campus, strolling
Franklin Street or picnicking on the lawn at Weaver Street
and enjoying a midday or evening concert.
Enhancing opportunities for more faculty and staff to live
here will strengthen the sense of community enjoyed between
the campus and the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
James Moeser is chancellor of the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill. Readers may contact him at email@example.com.