At the Crossroads in Chapel Hill

The resignation of James Moeser, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was not unexpected. Seemingly within minutes of his announced retirement during his 2007 State of the University Address, a 19-member search committee for his replacement was formed, and a promise was made to have a successor by the time he leaves at the end of June 2008.

Moeser’s replacement will have big shoes to fill, for the current chancellor left a large footprint on the Chapel Hill landscape. Moeser’s robust leadership was praised by students, officials and the media, yet his years at the helm were not without controversy, and his vision for the future of the university was not shared by all.

Moeser’s resignation gives UNC President Erskine Bowles and the Board of Governors a chance to consider whether the future of UNC-Chapel Hill will be to follow the tone and tenor of Moeser’s administration or to move in a different direction. Moeser’s administration was extremely successful in a number of ways, but some of his policies may not be sustainable, and the critical issue of undergraduate education seemed of secondary importance.

Marx, Mao, and Mischief at UNC

Claims that professors use their classroom positions to indoctrinate rather than educate their students crop up frequently in today’s polarized political climate. A geography course at Chapel Hill appears to be a perfect example.

The description in the course catalogue indicates that “Geographical Issues” focuses on three themes. There’s no hint of any political orientation or agenda.

Once you read the syllabus, however, it becomes clear that the course is not so much about the study of geography as an objective social science. Instead, it seems intended to plant seeds of doubt about, or even hostility to, free markets, international trade and the United States. The actual readings confirm this impression. This article examines the course.

Forecasting the UNC of the Future

The University of North Carolina Tomorrow Commission, created in March 2007, won’t report formally until January 2008, but its probable goals are already discernible. The theme of its inquiry seems to be that the University of North Carolina of the future will serve a rapidly growing population with changing demographics and will face a rapidly evolving economy.

To contend these changes, the commission is seeking ways in which the university system can move forward technically, become more fully integrated with businesses, communities, and other educational systems, create a more engaged faculty, and address current weaknesses such as the teaching of so-called “soft skills.”

UNC Tomorrow was commissioned by the UNC Board of Governors “to determine how the 16-campus system can best meet the needs of North Carolina and its people over the next 20 years.” It is comprised of 25 business, community, and academic leaders. The process so far has produced exploratory studies by the commission’s Scholars Council and has included a tour of all sixteen campuses in the UNC system and several brainstorming workshops conducted by the Institute for Emerging Ideas, a think tank associated with N.C. State. The second phase began on September 10 with the first of twelve “townhall”-style Regional Listening meetings with citizens and local officials at different locations around the state.