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Centennial Campus Interviews — Charlie Moreland

Q: Interviewer
Moreland: Charlie Moreland


Q: Your name as it should appear on the transcript and on the show and your current title is?

Moreland: Charlie Moreland

Q: You want Charles or Charlie?

Moreland: Charlie.

Q: And your title now?

Moreland: I’m the Director of the Western Office for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

Q: As we were talking earlier in your office, let’s talk about the timeframe when you first became involved in Centennial Campus and who the players were at that time. We talked about the early history, but now we are talking about when the Centennial Campus really began to evolve. Let’s talk about how that happened.

Moreland: When I first really got directly involved with the development of the Centennial Campus was when Frank Hart was the Vice Chancellor for Research. He had been the Provost and when Phil Stiles came in, Frank came back to the Research Office. I was the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research. At that time, the Centennial Campus was in limbo a little bit. The question that everyone was struggling with was how we were going to connect what was going to go on at the Centennial Campus with the research programs that were going on at the university. That became much of a focal point about how the Centennial Campus was developed in terms of its program development, not so much in terms of the business or real estate development. There had already been a land use plan developed. The question was how we were going to promote the programmatic development. What was the interaction going to be between the Centennial Campus and the university proper? Rather than thinking about going out and recruiting companies to come to the Centennial Campus and then finding out whether or not we could link what was going on with those companies in terms of their programs with the university programs. Frank and I and Jane Place and George Worsley decided that the best way to do this was to go to our faculty and find the programs that we could focus on that were strong at the university, and the relationship that the faculty had with companies that were already supporting their research. That would be the basis of the partnership. Essentially, we wanted to find the relationship and then invite the partners in once we knew that there was already an interaction going on. That is what it grew out of, what I call the research center approach. The university had been involved in this for some time and that is, you had research faculty who were partnered with groups of industrial people, like in the electronics industry. One of the centers that I think about more than anything else in the beginning was Advance Electronic Material Processing, which was an NSF center and one of their centers of excellence, which was the first one NC State had ever won. It is a very, very prestigious thing to win one of those awards and it was run by Nino Masnari. Any number of relationships had been built between our research faculty and whole groups of industry; I mean large numbers of different companies in very diverse areas. We used that model to think about the fact that these partnerships existed and then said let’s use those partnerships to promote the programmatic development of the Centennial Campus. So, when you look at the first building, research building, that had the unique name of Research I, what you had in there was the AMP NSF Center. The other very important thing here was if the university was borrowing money under its bonding authority, which George had already set up through legislative action, how were we going to pay for these buildings that we were building. We were not getting money from the General Assembly to build these buildings. The answer was that if we had strong research programs that were funded and they were drawing down indirect cost money, we could use a portion of that to help pay off the mortgage on those buildings. That became the basis of the business model, but the program model was that we already had research centers and we already had interactions. We just used those and capitalized on those to find out that our partners would be on the Centennial Campus.

Q: So the growth of Centennial Campus fueled more growth. That is where the money came from to get to the stage where you are today.

Moreland: Build your research base and one of my very big points in all of this was that is a great idea, but I also think that you have to build your research base in diverse areas. If you look at the areas that were selected through a process of working with our faculty, they were pretty diverse across the campus. So, of course, you had the materials research area and the question was then where was life science? Where would be the information technology, which was a booming area at that time, although that sort of fell by the way a little bit. Then the whole idea of connecting them, say to the College of Education and there entered the middle school. We had environmental programs, and the physical science people had climate as a major interest in terms of the environment. Then entered the Weather Service, which is located in the Research III building. The idea was to build a research base, but do it in a diverse way so we could engage more and more of our faculty and, therefore, engage more and more opportunity for partnership development. You can see that the program model goes very well with the business model because you have to have more programs going on and more research support in order to get more indirect costs, but at the same time, you build the base for the engagement of the faculty.

Q: We have heard a lot about this being a techno polis and being a model for similar centers around the country. There are a lot of centers that look like our Centennial Campus at universities, but ours seems to be unique, at least some people say it is. You have touched on some of this, but let’s directly address what makes Centennial Campus different from a dozen other university based research centers.

Moreland: I think more than anything else we knew that we had to have a good business model, but concurrent with that, we knew we had to have a strong program development model which engaged the faculty. Essentially, what is true is that partnerships are a double edge sword. You have to have the faculty of the university engage those partnerships, but they have to be engaged with people who they connect with so that they get the advantage of the connection and our faculty get an advantage and our students gets an advantage with that connection. I would also add that the student connection, especially at the graduate level, is a very important one. They are able to work in an environment when they are doing research where pretty much on a daily basis they have an interaction with people who are actually using, in terms of product or in terms of mechanisms what is being done in that research lab. You are getting feedback from people outside the university who have a very practical idea about the research. This is a strong educational component of the Centennial Campus. So, the short answer to your question is very simply that there would be a programmatic connection to the university in the partnerships that were going to be developed. It is probably the thing that distinguishes the Centennial Campus from other research parks. And the other thing, of course, is that on the Centennial Campus we early on had the College of Textiles. We eventually got the Engineering Graduate Research Center. There were parts of the Centennial Campus that were totally focused on growth of the university and then there were other parts of it that were primarily focused on partnership development and through this partnership development, research growth.

Q: By this point in our program, we will have heard about the early history of the real estate function of the campus, but when this land was perceived by North Carolina State University someone had to have the vision way back when. Who, if anybody, gets credit for the vision that created the master plan, the master plan that has been followed for the last twenty years.

Moreland: It is hard to say that there is any one person because there were a number of people. I would say originally Chancellor Poulton was very engaged in the Centennial Campus. Working with Chancellor Poulton was the former dean of the School of Design, Claude McKinney. At the same time, there is no doubt that we have to include the business office, the financial office, and the real estate part so George Worsley also gets a lot of credit for his input into the whole process. But, in terms of just the vision of the Centennial Campus, I have to say that from those three people, the one person more than anybody else is Claude McKinney who kept that vision in front of people, who talked about it. At times, you know I would hear him say and talk about the Centennial Campus and it was almost as if he was talking about some place that I didn’t know about and yet I really wanted us to be like that. He really inspired people to move towards this goal that he laid out.

Q: Where do we go from here? We have twenty years behind us and we are not far behind and may even be very close to where we planned to be on our master plan. There is still a lot of land; there is still a lot potential; there are a lot of potential pitfalls. Where do we go? What do we do? What do we look out for in the future? What are our next steps?

Moreland: Well, I would say as much as anything, to make sure that the people who are now the leaders in development of the Centennial Campus understand the master plan. It is very important to have a road map to keep people in line, keep a balance between the partners being there, the university being there, and the other aspects of Centennial Campus, which have to do with the apartments and the commercial entities that might be there. Claude’s idea was a community. Keep that in mind and make sure that you keep a balance. Right now, just looking at this from the outside, because of the expansion of the engineering college on the Centennial Campus, you get an idea that it may have leaned a little bit more toward university expansion and away from the partnership development. There were times when I thought it was the other way around. You have to keep that master plan in mind and keep remembering that the Centennial Campus is a community, and keeping this idea of interaction between the university faculty and people from outside the university in the industrial world is very important. You have to maintain a balance there. Somebody has to keep looking at that and making sure that we are following that master plan because it is probably a good road map. Claude’s vision needs to be played out.

Q: We have pretty much touched on everything, but let’s go back to what I mentioned to you earlier on. The purpose of our video basically for the fall is the celebration of our twentieth anniversary of the beginning of Centennial Campus and a celebration of our future. Is there any one thing that we haven’t touched on that you would like to say? Since it is a celebration, it is our birthday that we are talking about.

Moreland: I think there are two things. Number one is that I think that we really need to have a celebration of the community of NC State and I include in that many parts of the university who really ought to pat themselves on the back for working together with a vision and creating something that is envied by a lot of other universities in the United States and a lot of other universities in other countries in the world. The other thing I think is important, which we have not touched on, is that the other plus that came out of Centennial Campus for the university was that it provided a place for companies that were formed from technology that was created at the university to find a home close by and still stay in touch with students and other faculty. The whole technology transfer effort of the Centennial Campus that eventually came, it didn’t start there, is a very important aspect. I think in terms of the future, there is another place that people need to focus. How do we continue to bring companies based on technology created at NC State? How do we continue to encourage that and find the proper type of relationship that we should have with those companies? It is a very, very important aspect of universities today and the Centennial Campus is a great place to have that happen.

Q: We are diverting resources into Centennial Campus?

Moreland: No, we are investing them. A very important part of the development of Centennial Campus was this interconnection which I mentioned before about research growth and a business model.

Q: One of the points that we did discuss, but I think we need to make it more strongly is the fact that we are not diverting resources into Centennial Campus and that Centennial Campus is really fueling itself. Its growth is fueling more growth. I think that it is important for people to understand.

Moreland: There is no doubt about the fact that the Centennial Campus provided the place to grow the research programs at the university. What that meant to the development of the Centennial Campus was that as you increase your research base, you could grow your indirect costs and indirect costs were paying for the development of the Centennial Campus. If anything, it is the other way around. The growth of research and increasing the indirect cost base has funded research programs throughout the university. Another good example of that is to take a look at the Centennial Campus, as at the Vet School. The Vet School was locked into very limited space for research. They needed to grow their research programs. What do you do when you are a state-supported university? Well, you go to the General Assembly and you try to get a new building and maybe ten or fifteen years later you get it. By the time that happens you have lost most of the faculty and you can’t recruit new people. So essentially what was true of the Vet School was that they looked at their future research growth, worked with the finance office, and decided that they could grow their research base so that they could make enough money from indirect costs to start, along with the bonds, to put a research building right next to where they were. Now, if you go there to talk to them you will find out that their research base has grown to the extent that they made more money than they projected they could have made and that they needed for that building. Essentially, what is true is that the Centennial Campus concept has created a base of money through indirect costs that has supported more and more research growth throughout the university. When I was the Vice Chancellor for Research, after a while because we had grown the indirect costs fund enough, we actually ended up having enough money to provide matching dollars on research proposals which again fueled more and more research into the university and, therefore, more indirect costs. We used the business model with the Centennial Campus providing the place to actually grow that business model. It is the secret of the success of the Centennial Campus. I will tell you that Centennial Campus did not drain resources from the university; it increased the resources that support the research base across the university.

Q: Discuss the differences between the Centennial Campus and the Research Triangle Park.

Moreland: The Research Triangle Park is a place that attracts very large research facilities, IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, which originated as Burroughs Welcome was Glaxo and now is GlaxoSmithKline, and a whole lot of electronic companies. Essentially what is true is that those companies are entities unto themselves. There is not the opportunity for collaboration because of programmatic connections. The Centennial Campus because it is part of a university had to build its base on program connections and partnerships. Essentially what is true is that we decided that when we would bring partners into the university, they would not be, all of them anyway, in separate buildings. We would have them in the same building where the university’s research faculty and students were doing research, which would augment the exchange of information. Our idea was that we needed to promote technology transfer, information transfer, whereas in the Research Triangle Park, I wouldn’t say that there is an aversion to doing that, but on the other hand they tend to want to protect more of their information. What we want to do because we are a university is to share our information.