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Wednesday October 20th

Q&A with former chancellor James Moeser

Chancellor James Moeser at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Buy Photos Chancellor James Moeser at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

James Moeser, UNC-CH’s chancellor from 2000-08, will become UNC School of the Arts’ interim chancellor Aug. 1.

State & National editor Sarah Brown spoke with Moeser about his new job, his advice for UNC-CH and his recent comments on media coverage of the University’s academic and athletic scandals.

DAILY TAR HEEL: What specifically appeals to you about leading UNCSA?

James Moeser: My whole history is in the arts. It’s my field.

As far as the School of the Arts, it’s an extraordinary institution — it’s the only publicly supported conservatory in the United States. I want to make sure it continues to succeed.

DTH: Do you have any reservations about taking the job?

JM: I’m very happy doing what I’m doing — being a faculty member here, teaching a first-year seminar … the reluctance was to let go (of Chapel Hill).

Being a chancellor is a stressful job. I’m going back into the fight club, one could say.

But I like leadership. The job of chancellor is ultimately helping others to be successful, and I find that fulfilling.

DTH: What are some of the challenges you plan to tackle at UNCSA?

JM: The major challenge for me is … I have no intimate knowledge of the place at all.

My plan of action is to go to each of the major people on campus … and get them to tell me about what they do and what their issues are … (so I can) understand the ground on which they stand.

*DTH: *How do you see UNC-CH faring over the next year?

JM: Obviously we have some challenges … (especially) with regard to support from the state of North Carolina.

But I’m very bullish on the future of Carolina. If I were 10, 15 years younger, this is where I would want to be leading an institution.

DTH: How could budget cuts affect the UNC system next year?

JM: Frankly, I think (cuts) could damage other parts of the UNC system more than Chapel Hill … but there are a number of threats out there. I won’t minimize them — they’re serious.

Nonetheless, I’m very pessimistic short-term, but very optimistic long-term.

*DTH: *Your comments in a Chapel Hill Magazine interview that “(the media) has really put a target on the University” provoked a significant backlash — do you regret anything you said?

JM: No, I don’t regret it.

The impetus of (the reporter’s) question was: Is (the Carolina Way) a legitimate concept? And I said, absolutely it is.

What I was thinking, too, was that one journal in particular — which I will refuse to name — took a very cynical view toward the Carolina Way.

It said basically that it was fraudulent, that it was a cover for malfeasance … that we were hypocrites, and so on.

I grew up in West Texas, and we used to have a saying that “the hit dog always howls.” I thought the way that one newspaper responded to that set of comments basically proved my point.

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