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james moeser“Being a chancellor is not a solo act. The art of success here is building a team.”
“One of the luxuries of not being chancellor anymore,” James Moeser says, “is I don’t have to check my opinions at the door.” He said this after a 30-minute conversation in which he passionately defended The Carolina Way and spoke about his short-term worries and long-term hope for the university he led from 2000-2008. He didn’t hold back.
ON SLANDERING THE CAROLINA WAY
I think [the media] has really put a target on the university, and they’ve treated The Carolina Way in a very cynical fashion, trashing it, really, and indicating The Carolina Way was always just a fiction, a façade we put in front of misbehavior. I really resent that. I think The Carolina Way is genuine, I think it’s real. I’m really angry about the [media]. I think they target people, and they take pleasure in bringing people down. I think their real goal here was to remove banners from the Smith Center. The fact is The Carolina Way goes back to Dean Smith, the idea of achieving excellence while maintaining the highest levels of ethics, fair play and playing within the rules. [They have] tried to tarnish something that is quite noble in its concept. It also does a great disservice to Eve Carson, who talked about The Carolina Way in terms of caring more about others than one’s self, indeed to be selfless, even sacrificial. I think that’s embodied in our students’ and in our faculty’s commitment to public service in relating their scholarship and research to the needs of the state and nation. That’s not to say that this university is immune to indiscretion or bad behavior.
ON CHARGES THAT UNC MISHANDLED SEXUAL-ASSAULT CLAIMS
Obviously that’s a very serious allegation. I don’t believe, and I won’t believe it until it’s proven to me, that this university suppressed reporting. I’d be shocked if that were proven true. Now, I never thought something like sexual assault should be handled by the Honor Court. And that’s a problem that has been corrected. I’m not minimizing the seriousness of sexual assault on campuses. It’s something every campus in the country deals with. It starts with alcohol abuse, drug abuse, with raging the hormones of 18-to-22 years in close proximity. Then it goes to gender relationships, and gender equality. That’s a very toxic cocktail when you mix all those things together. There are a lot of things we can do to handle these cases better. But we have to remember that we’re dealing with basic civil rights on both sides of the allegation, and it has to be handled carefully and discreetly and within the law.
ON CHANCELLOR-ELECT CAROL FOLT
Oh, I think she’s a great pick. I’m very excited about it, actually. I thought the warmth, the enthusiasm that she exhibited, the way she interacted with people, was very impressive. I’m very optimistic actually that she’s going to be a great chancellor. The fact of the matter is one cannot anticipate what the big issues are going to be. One challenge for her is going from a private to public university and the politics that goes along with that, which is even bigger than athletics. Being a chancellor is not a solo act. The art of success here is building a team, people who you trust, and using that team for leadership. You don’t do it all alone.
ON DEALING WITH THE LEGISLATURE
I was fortunate when I was chancellor to have a legislature and a governor who were really supportive of the university. We didn’t always agree, but ultimately we all did want to have a great university. We benefited from Marc Basnight, Joe Hackney, Kay Hagan, Linda Garrou, Howard Lee. We had really enlightened leadership in Raleigh. There’s very little seniority left in Raleigh. In some cases, they’re outright hostile to us. In other cases, they just don’t know. There’s a big burden on [Folt] to take our message to them. That’s a big job, to deal with both ignorance and outright hostility to the university.
ON HIS PROGNOSIS FOR THE UNIVERSITY
In the short term, I’m very pessimistic. But in the long term, I’m optimistic. The reason I’m optimistic is that UNC remains a very strong and powerful university. There are things which motivate this university toward the good, toward the strong, toward the excellent. We have a very strong alumni base. We’ll raise a lot of money to support this university. And, though there’s been a cataclysmic change in Raleigh, North Carolina is fundamentally a purple state. We are not a deep red state. Historically we have been governed from the center. I’m counting on that center to re-emerge. TW