Nikole Hannah-Jones declines UNC-Chapel Hill’s offer of tenure following controversy

Orange County News

NEW YORK (WNCN/AP) – Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones will not join UNC-Chapel Hill’s faculty, she told Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday.

Her announcement comes a week after trustees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill approved tenure for Hannah-Jones.

She told King she will instead work at Howard University.

“It’s pretty clear that my tenure was not taken up because of political opposition because of discriminatory views against my viewpoint and I believe my race and my gender,” Hannah-Jones said.

Click here to read Nikole Hannah-Jones full statement

In a statement, Susan King, dean of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism & Media, said she is “disappointed that Nikole Hannah-Jones will not be joining the school this summer.”

Wednesday’s 9-4 vote capped weeks of tension that began when a board member halted the process over questions about her teaching credentials.

The board voted to accept the tenure application at a special meeting that included a closed-door session. The university announced in April that Hannah-Jones would be joining the journalism school faculty in July.

The university had announced in April that Hannah-Jones — who won a Pulitzer Prize for her work on The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project focusing on America’s history of slavery — would be joining the journalism school’s faculty.

It said she would take up the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism in July with a five-year contract.

But Hannah-Jones’ attorneys announced last week that she would not report for work without tenure, prompting a call by Student Body President Lamar Richards, who’s also a trustee, for the board to convene a special meeting no later than Wednesday.

Before Wednesday, the school had little to say about why tenure was not offered, but Walter Hussman, an Arkansas newspaper publisher and a prominent donor whose name is on the journalism school, revealed he had emailed university leaders challenging her work as “highly contentious and highly controversial” before the process was halted.

“The University has now voted to grant tenure to Ms. Nikole Hannah-Jones. I look forward to meeting her and discussing journalism,” Hussman said in a text message. “Our plan is to continue to support the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media in advocating for the core values.”

Earlier in the year, Hannah-Jones’ tenure application was halted because she did not come from a “traditional academic-type background,” and trustee Charles Duckett, who vets the lifetime appointments wanted more time to consider her qualifications, university leaders had said. Duckett voted Wednesday for approval of her tenure application.

Some conservatives have complained about The 1619 Project, which focused on the country’s history of slavery.

This story will be updated.

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