Moeser, who has led the UNC system's flagship campus for the past seven years, plans to step down on June 30 to take a faculty position. A university committee is searching for his successor.
"I think we have to be careful here because we have something that's important to preserve," he said.
Enrollment projections call for about 30,000 students at UNC by 2015. Some lawmakers are pushing for a bigger bump in numbers, but Moeser said it's important to maintain the current faculty-student ration of 20 to 1 – about half of the classes on campus have fewer than 20 students.
"We will not become an Ohio State. We will not become a Michigan State," he said. "(I'm not) denigrating those great institutions, but they have a very different culture."
The UNC culture includes always giving academics a priority over athletics, Moeser said.
Athletic expenditures have held steady at 4 percent of the school's total budget over the past 20 years, he said. He also defended the nearly $300,000 annual raise for football coach Butch Davis.
"People say he only had four wins. I say yes, four wins and five sellouts," he said. "We're on an upward trajectory of filling Kenan Stadium, which is the fuel that operates the entire program."
Moeser said he plans to press lawmakers during his final weeks on the job for more funding for the planned Carolina North complex on the other side of Chapel Hill. He calls the 50-year campus expansion plan the future of the university.
"We're talking seriously about moving the law school to Carolina North. We'll build a couple of research buildings. We'll probably start a fresh generation of housing for faculty and graduate students," he said.
The project has drawn criticism, but he said Carolina North should increase Chapel Hill's tax base and improve the town's quality of life.
"We're really committed, strongly committed, to sustainability," he said.