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News Release

For immediate use

Sept. 26, 2007

Web link: For more on Moeser, today’s speech and UNC go to

Moeser announces decision to leave chancellor post in June

CHAPEL HILL – James Moeser, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s ninth chancellor and nationally recognized for launching an innovative program to graduate deserving low-income students debt-free, will leave his post next summer.

Moeser, in his annual “State of the University” speech, announced his decision to relinquish the chancellor’s job on June 30, 2008, the end of the academic and fiscal year. He said the decision did not signal his retirement. After a year’s research leave, Moeser said he would return “with the most exalted title this University can confer on an individual – professor.”

The chancellor said the announcement gives the UNC Board of Trustees time to begin a search so a successor could begin July 1, 2008. At 68, he is Carolina’s longest-serving chancellor since Christopher Fordham, who retired in 1988 after more than eight years in office. The UNC Board of Governors unanimously elected Moeser April 14, 2000, and he started Aug. 15. He succeeded Interim Chancellor William McCoy, tapped after Michael Hooker’s 1999 death.
Under Moeser’s leadership, Carolina has aspired to become the nation’s leading public university. He has championed a program to provide a Carolina education debt-free to deserving low-income students. He leads an effort to strengthen the University’s commitment to serving North Carolina. He has overseen the most successful private fund-raising campaign in University history and an unprecedented physical transformation of the main campus. The chancellor has managed growth in faculty research funding, adoption of an academic plan, enhancements to undergraduate education and extensive globalization efforts.

A former concert organist and longtime music professor, Moeser recalled that background in explaining his decision. “The principal lesson I learned as a concert artist was always to get off the stage before the applause stopped,” he said. “The second lesson was to be conservative with encores. ‘Always leave them wanting more,’ my teachers said. Those lessons stuck, and I think they apply to me as much today as they did in my years on the concert stage.”

Moeser pledged to bring “the same level of passion, energy and commitment in my last year as I did in my very first year as chancellor. Let us set the course so that a hundred years from now, historians will agree that Carolina’s third century was her best, a true renaissance of the human spirit.”

UNC President Erskine Bowles praised Moeser’s service as chancellor.

“Throughout his tenure, James Moeser has refused to accept anything less than excellence at Chapel Hill, and you can see that excellence everywhere you look – in the quality and diversity of the student body, the outstanding faculty and the state of the facilities on the campus,” Bowles said. “Good has never been good enough for James Moeser. He has set high standards for this University and held all of us accountable for meeting them. His passion for academic excellence and commitment to service are among the qualities that have made him such a great chancellor.

“We are enormously proud of all that Carolina has accomplished under his leadership, and we are immensely grateful for all that he has done to strengthen this University and this state,” the president said. “His leadership has put us on the path where all will recognize that Chapel Hill is the best public university in America.”
Roger Perry, newly elected chair of the UNC Board of Trustees, said Moeser’s leadership had provided great momentum for the University.
“Chancellor Moeser has set the bar very high at Chapel Hill and that is reflected in the breadth and depth of what we are accomplishing now,” Perry said. “He has set the tone for the entire campus, and our faculty, students and staff are doing a wonderful job on behalf of the University. His leadership has provided great vision and opportunities for

Carolina. If we all keep working aggressively, we are well-positioned to continue educating and serving the people of North Carolina. Our success is a great tribute to James.”

Moeser said Carolina “is on an incredible roll” because of efforts by students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, friends and leaders of the UNC system and North Carolina.

“This year’s first-year class is again the most academically qualified in our history,” he said. “We have improved how we pay, recruit and retain faculty, our number one priority. The Carolina First Campaign ends in three months well over the $2 billion goal. Faculty keep setting new records for research funding. The General Assembly just created a recurring $50 million fund for cancer research – the equivalent of a $1 billion endowment.

“Universities nationwide are modeling debt-free initiatives for deserving students after the Carolina Covenant,” Moeser said. “A massive $2.1 billion building program is adding 6 million square feet to main campus while ultimately increasing green space and keeping a strong commitment to sustainability. Every part of the University is positioned for the kind of distinction that we expect at Carolina.”

He said the current state of the University was excellent. But significant challenges lie ahead for Carolina to remain a leading university. His priorities for this year include preparing for enrollment growth, maintaining competitiveness in attracting research funding and planning to recruit a whole new generation of faculty.

In 2003, Moeser and Shirley Ort, associate provost and director of scholarships and student aid, worried that the state’s brightest high school students from low-income families believed they could not afford UNC. The University responded with the Carolina Covenant, which makes a UNC education possible debt-free for qualified low-income students. With that launch, a first for a major public university, Carolina has led a movement in American higher education. About 40 similar initiatives have begun at other public and private campuses as well as two states including North Carolina. In May, the first Carolina Covenant Scholars will graduate.

Earlier this year, Moeser received the American Council on Education’s Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award, a lifetime achievement honor for major contributions to the advancement of diversity in higher education. He serves on the College Board’s Commission on Access, Admissions and Success in Higher Education, which brings together leaders from higher education, K-12 schools and other organizations to focus on academic preparation, admissions and financial aid.

Moeser has made service to North Carolina a major priority. In 2004, he began his “Carolina Connects” initiative to strengthen UNC’s ties to the state’s people and communities. By traveling the state, he highlights and enhances the University’s service to North Carolina. Moeser has visits to about 50 communities scheduled as part of “Carolina Connects” this academic year.

During Moeser’s tenure, the Carolina First Campaign has become the most successful fund-raising effort in University history, raising more than $2.23 billion and exceeding its $2 billion goal last February. The campaign just exceeded the goal of creating 200 endowed professorships. For students, donors have created 732 undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships toward a goal of 1,000. The campaign, which ends in December, has doubled the endowment to more than $2 billion.

The campaign’s success has more than made good on Moeser’s 2000 pledge to triple the investment North Carolinians would make by approving the Higher Education Bond Referendum. Voters overwhelmingly supported the referendum, which brought $515 million to UNC for new buildings and renovations. The University has invested its own funds from sources including gifts and faculty research grants to create – now at $2.1 billion – one of the nation’s largest campus building programs. Carolina has completed nearly 80 percent of 49 bond-funded projects, the final one of which is scheduled to be completed in January 2009.
Faculty research funding also has grown annually during Moeser’s tenure. Total research grants and contracts rose by almost 3 percent in fiscal 2007 to exceed $610 million – more than double the amount from a decade ago. The research is helping cure diseases, bring innovation to industry and spin off businesses that create new jobs for North Carolinians. Key areas include a genome sciences initiative, an Institute for Advanced Materials, Nanosciences and Technology and the Renaissance Computing Institute, based at UNC in partnership with Duke, N.C. State and state agencies. Moeser has challenged the University to reach $1 billion in sponsored research by 2015.

In 2003, the University adopted its first academic plan as an initial five-year roadmap to guide and shape future decisions across the campus. Last fall, the University started using a new general education curriculum, marking the first major update since 1980.  Last year, Moeser proposed new targets for four- and six-year graduation rates based on comparisons with leading public peer campuses that were endorsed by the trustees and UNC Board of Governors.
Moeser has emphasized globalization as a major academic priority. The University has more than 300 study abroad programs in 70 countries and ranks second among public research universities for the rate of undergraduates going abroad at 35 percent, up from 15 percent in 2000. Moeser traveled to China last year when UNC co-sponsored a conference on health-care reform with Peking University. UNC will host a similar event next year focusing on U.S. health-care issues. The chancellor’s trip to Singapore in 2005 led to a joint undergraduate degree program launched earlier this year with the National University of Singapore. The prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences selected Moeser for membership in 2007. He serves on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Security Higher Education Advisory Board. The NCAA selected him to serve on its Presidential Task Force on the Future of Division I Intercollegiate Athletics and the fiscal responsibility subcommittee.

Moeser came to UNC after four years as chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. His career began in 1966 at the University of Kansas, where he was a music faculty member and later served as dean of the School of Fine Arts for 11 years. In 1986 he joined The Pennsylvania State University as dean of the College of Arts and Architecture and executive director of University Arts Services. He was vice president for academic affairs and provost of the University of South Carolina. A native of Colorado City, Texas, and a Fulbright Scholar, he earned two degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and a doctorate from the University of Michigan.

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Cable Access TV Rebroadcasts:  The University Access Channel, seen on Time Warner Cable Channel 4, will rebroadcast the “State of the University” speech Wednesday, Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m.; and Friday, Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m.


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a leader in American higher education and known around the world for innovative teaching, research and public service. Now in its third century, Carolina offers 71 bachelor’s, 107 master’s, 74 doctorate and four professional degree programs. This fall, the University enrolled more than 28,000 students who are taught by a 3,200-member faculty. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service priorities to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties.


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