James Moeser, a music professor who led UNC-Chapel Hill for eight years, will become interim chancellor at UNC School of the Arts.
He will start Aug. 1 at the public arts high school and college in Winston-Salem, succeeding John Mauceri, who will step down as chancellor June 30 after seven years.
Moeser will be paid an annualized salary of $260,000, a UNC spokeswoman said. The school’s provost, David Nelson, will serve as acting chancellor for the month of July.
The conservatory needed an interim leader, according to UNCSA officials, because the search for Mauceri’s successor is taking longer than expected. Mauceri announced his plans in October of last year, leaving what is typically enough time to make a new hire.
But earlier this month, Rob King, vice chairman of the trustees and chairman of the search committee, sent a letter to the campus explaining that the search would extend into the fall.
“While we have been absolutely thrilled at the caliber of candidates the search has attracted, the current marketplace is both highly competitive and somewhat unpredictable,” King’s letter said. “It now appears that the search will take longer than we had initially hoped.”
King’s letter said finding a new leader is critical to UNCSA’s future, “and we are determined to get it right, however long the process takes.”
Moeser, a Texas native and concert organist, was chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill from 2000 to 2008. He helped start the Carolina Covenant grant program for low-income students, led a major fundraising campaign and defended the university’s academic freedom during a controversy over teaching a book about the Quran in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001.
Since his retirement as chancellor, he has co-taught a first-year seminar in music and led a faculty leadership program.
Critical of coverage
Recently, he made news when he criticized news coverage of the football and academic scandals that have hammered UNC-CH’s reputation in the past three years.
“I’m really angry about [the media],” Moeser told the Chapel Hill Magazine, a lifestyle publication. “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.”
Some bristled at the remarks because much of the buildup of UNC-CH’s football program occurred during Moeser’s tenure.
UNC President Tom Ross, in a news release, said UNCSA would be in capable hands with Moeser.
“James Moeser’s vast administrative experience and his demonstrated love of and commitment to the arts and humanities make him uniquely qualified to lead the School of the Arts during a time of transition,” Ross’ statement said. “He understands the many challenges and opportunities before this very special campus of the University, and I am grateful that he has agreed to accept this important assignment.”
Before coming to UNC-CH, Moeser’s career as a professor and administrator spanned a number of public campuses, including the University of Kansas, Pennsylvania State University, University of South Carolina and University of Nebraska.