But the scope of Moeser's State of the University address, delivered in the Student Union, spanned far beyond just a year as he outlined his long-term goals and vision for making UNC-Chapel Hill the best public university in the nation.
Moeser's speech was the first of its type in recent UNC-CH history. He adopted the practice of annually addressing the campus community when he was chancellor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Moeser began by outlining the three issues that he described as the "key challenges and opportunities" facing UNC-CH: assessing the University's monetary needs and fund-raising strategies, creating a new academic plan and moving forward with the development plan for campus growth. "There are many other challenges, but I believe these are the most pressing and require our collective attention as a community during this current academic year," Moeser said.
Moeser first turned his attention to the University's financial situation, discussing UNC-CH's standing in light of the state's recent fiscal woes.
The N.C. General Assembly recently passed a continuing budget resolution including across-the-board 9 percent tuition increases for all UNC-system undergraduates. Proposals for cuts to UNC-CH's budget, which range from $3 million to $7 million, are currently in the N.C. House and Senate.
"At times during the legislative session, this university was literally placed on the chopping block, threatened by cuts -- real and proposed -- that could quickly eradicate the years of work that allowed Carolina to rise to the status of a great public university," Moeser said.
Moeser said the final budget package will probably contain "mixed news" for the University -- he said he is glad UNC-CH will receive funding to support enrollment growth but that he is distressed by the tuition increases and cuts that could force the University to reduce its staff by almost 3 percent. "My conclusion about this session is simply that it raises more questions about our state's priorities than it answers," Moeser said.
But Moeser said the University will meet its funding challenge mainly by relying heavily on fund raising. "On University Day, we will unveil the public phase of our major fund-raising campaign, the largest in our history," he said. "... This year will mark the beginning of our future -- what can be Carolina's golden age if we are all successful."
He said UNC-CH especially needs to dedicate money to faculty and staff salaries and benefits, research and public service.
Moeser also said a crucial part of maintaining the University's financial stature would come in the form of campus-initiated tuition increases over the next several years. "Later this fall, we shall take to the Board of Trustees an updated five-year plan for tuition necessary to support excellence," he said.
In 2000, the Board of Governors passed a campus-initiated two-year tuition increase of $300 per year for all UNC-CH students. During the same round of tuition increases, the BOT considered drafting a five-year plan that would increase tuition by $300 per year.
But tuition wasn't the only issue in Moeser's speech that might affect students -- the second part of his speech dealt with the academic climate at the University.
Moeser focused largely on research achievements, listing the accomplishments of faculty who have undertaken significant scientific projects. "Ultimately, we want to do even more to get Carolina-created technology into the hands of the public, and our goal is to create our own venture capital fund and incubator space to further stimulate this kind of activity."
Moeser also said Provost Robert Shelton will lead the development of a new academic plan. He stressed that the University should continue its scientific progress but that the arts and humanities must not be left behind. "I do not believe that we can be America's best public university on the strength of science alone," he said. "This university has not nurtured the arts as it should."
Moeser also said he would like to see global-centered programs and public service incorporated into the University's academic mission.
But Moeser did not spend his entire speech reflecting on internal concerns -- he also discussed the University's role in the town and the nation. He mentioned the Master Plan, the University's blueprint for campus growth, and the Development Plan, a document pending approval by the town of Chapel Hill that details the effects of that growth during its first eight years, saying he was pleased with the process so far but was worried about some recent developments. "All of us have concerns about growth," he said. "I remain hopeful that we can continue to work productively."
The Chapel Hill Planning Board recommended Tuesday night that the Town Council not support the Development Plan unless at least 33 stipulations are met.
Moeser also expressed concern about how the University is perceived by the nation. He said the quality of a school has nothing to do with how magazines and their readers perceive it. "If you must, read what (U.S. News and World Report) has to say about us," he said of the magazine's rankings, to be released today. "But let us not for a second be diverted by these arbitrary and artificial ratings from the substance of our vision for excellence."
He closed his speech with wishes that UNC-CH be a model, not for its rankings, but for its moral stature and principles.
"We have a moral responsibility to our state and our nation as a public university to bring to the public square the great issues of our day without fear of censorship," he said. "In so doing, we are faithful to our own traditions of excellence, engagement and leadership. And thus, the University that became the model for public higher education in America will again be leading the way, to be the `light on the hill' for America and the world."
The University Editor can be reached at email@example.com.
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