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The Daily Tar Heel

Qatar Decision Up to Chancellor Moeser Alone

"I have no idea whether we will ultimately move forward with this," Moeser said in an interview Monday. "I don't want to put a percentage on the chances -- I would say slightly better than half."

Although many campus decisions must be approved by both the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees and the UNC-system Board of Governors, these bodies have no role in the Qatar decision.

BOT Chairman Tim Burnett said the the Qatar proposal decision is a purely administrative one and therefore is outside the BOT's jurisdiction. "I just think the BOT has an assigned set of responsibilities, and this is not one of them," he said.

Neither the BOT nor the BOG has a role in the decision because a satellite campus is not classified as the creation of a new degree program, said UNC-system Gretchen Bataille, vice president for academic affairs.

But Moeser said he still wants outside approval, even though neither body is forced to give it. "Legally, it is not required -- but clearly I wouldn't want to move forward if I felt there was opposition, especially from the BOT level," Moeser said.

Moeser said he also wants input from the student body, mainly from a seminar on Qatar organized by student government. "Being viable members of this community, it is important to hear what students have to say," said Student Body President Justin Young. Young said he is not sure how much student input will factor into the decision, but Moeser said he is interested in the comments generated.

"The good news is no decision will be made by the time the seminar is finished," Moeser said. "I am fascinated by what students have to say."

But Young said Moeser has not always seemed willing to listen. "Initially it appeared the chancellor was a little resistant to hearing the student perspective," Young said.

The decision Moeser is facing mirrors one that former Chancellor Michael Hooker wrestled with five years ago. In 1996, UNC-CH was approached by a private organization in Indonesia about establishing a campus in the Asian nation.

"In many ways it was similar -- a wealthy group in Indonesia wanted to build a campus, like a UNC in Indonesia," said anthropology Professor James Peacock. After sending faculty and administrators -- including Peacock and then-Provost Dick Richardson -- on a fact-finding mission to Indonesia, Hooker decided not to pursue the proposal.

"It was clear when we were in Jakarta that the political situation was very unstable," Richardson said. "That instability is in contrast to what I understand is in Qatar." Richardson said the decision was Hooker's and the BOT was not involved.

But Moeser has promised that he will weigh all arguments before making his decision. He said, "Input is important -- I am trying to listen to a lot of people."

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