CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — UNC-Chapel Hill said it has reached an agreement with Nikole Hannah-Jones following last year’s controversy over her application for a tenured position.
In April 2021, the university announced 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 later said 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.
Before that meeting, 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.
In July 2021, the board voted to accept the tenure application at a special meeting that included a closed-door session.
However, Hannah-Jones told Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” last year that she would not be joining the UNC-CH’s faculty.
On Friday, UNC-CH said the school reached an agreement with Hannah-Jones that “resolves legal matters arising from her application.”
“This is an important step forward as Carolina focuses on its future and continues to educate the next generation of leaders. As a part of the agreement, the University will accelerate its investment in crucial initiatives in Carolina Next, its strategic plan, to further that ongoing work,” said Beth Keith, associate vice chancellor of University Communications at UNC-CH.
David Boliek, UNC-CH Board of Trustees chair, also released a statement concerning the agreement that read:
“The steps taken to resolve the lingering potential legal action posed by Ms. Hannah-Jones will hopefully help to close this chapter and give the University the space to focus on moving forward.”