What has been churning in the rumour mill was made official yesterday afternoon: UNC Chapel Hill's Chancellor James Moeser will be leaving office, effective June 30, 2008, which marks the end of the current Fiscal Year.
Frankly speaking, it's no surprise. I still remember at one of the Postdoctoral events that took place in the Carolina Inn, as we were standing next to photos of current and former chancellors of UNC, a couple of my fellow postdocs were speculating that Moeser was going to be leaving his position soon. My thought, which I didn't share with them - if he leaves at all, it will probably be in 2008. I did not elaborate why, however. (And I won't elaborate publicly now.)
Last night, I was at a friend's place when he received a phone call from his father, stating that Chancellor Moeser was going to step down as Chancellor. As soon as he got off the phone, he turned to me and said, "Lyn, you were right - Dr. Moeser will be leaving office at the end of the school year."
We knew that the Moesers purchased a home off of Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill, which added fuel to the speculation, but gave a strong indication that they may stay in the area. It certainly gave some hope to the organ students in the area, as James' wife Susan is a Professor of Organ in the Music Department.
After I left my friend's place, I checked my email, and sure enough, there was, waiting in my mbox, the message that was sent to UNC Faculty, Staff and Students, announcing his decision to step down as Chancellor.
I believe he leaves a good legacy in his 8 years or so as Chancellor. Carolina North, Carolina Covenant, among others ... he's also had his share of controversy as well. I still remember when he assigned as reading for the incoming Freshman Class a book about the Qur'an. There were protests ... lawsuits ... friends at Chapel of the Cross (where the Moesers are members) tell me that a couple of angry people were accusing James of being an atheist. James was telling them that he is a member at Chapel of the Cross, and that he serves as a Lector there, and is asked from time to time to lead discussions during the Adult Education hour in between the 9.00 am and 11.15 am services ... and yet, these people, who did not seem to listen to a single word James was saying, continued on with their harangues. I really admired James more after hearing about that.
I have my "I met the Chancellor" story, which my friends think is awfully cute. James is also a former concert organist as well. One Sunday afternoon, I was practicing on the Kleuker at Chapel of the Cross. Susan peeked her head in, hoping to get practice time on the instrument. I was ready to yield to her at that instant, but she said, rather kindly, "Oh, but you need to practice, too." So I asked her what time it was, and she told me 2.15 pm. I responded that I needed to get somewhere, and if she wouldn't mind kicking me off the organ at 3.00 pm, that would be great.
So she returned at 3.00 pm, this time, accompanied by her husband, James. I had just been assigned the Prelude from Langlais' Suite Médiévale, so you can imagine just how badly that sounded. Despite that, Susan was still able to identify what piece I was butchering at that point. I admitted to her that I had only been working on that piece for one week, and that it sounded like a bunch of pitches to me. Susan said, in response, "Spend some time with it, and I'm sure it will be sounding like music in no time." James, who was standing nearby, had this huge grin on his face, and he was nodding his head in agreement. Then, Susan said, "Oh, by the way Lyn, have you met my husband? This is Jim, Jim, this is Lyn, one of Tim Baker's organ students."
So we shook hands, and goofy, awkward, nerdy me, said, "Hi, Jim, it's great to meet you; I've heard so much about you." James, ever the gracious one, just smiled and said, "It's a pleasure to meet you." We had seen each other around, and he knows I sing with the Senior Choir, and also go to most of the organ-related events in the Triangle and Triad areas. So it was cool to have finally met him in person.