Nikole Hannah-Jones Tenure Application to Go Before U.N.C. Board

A resolution of the dispute between the award-winning journalist and the University of North Carolina’s trustees could come during a closed session Wednesday.

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Nikole Hannah-Jones’s tenure application will go before the U.N.C. board.

A vote on tenure for the journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones is scheduled for Wednesday.Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

June 29, 2021, 12:37 p.m. ET

The University of North Carolina’s board of trustees is scheduled to hold a special meeting on Wednesday amid intensifying pressure over its failure to approve tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent for The New York Times Magazine.

A spokeswoman for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., which is representing the journalist, confirmed that the board was scheduled to vote on tenure for Ms. Hannah-Jones during the meeting.

Ms. Hannah-Jones, a creator of the 1619 Project, a multimedia series from The Times Magazine that re-examined the legacy of slavery in the United States, had agreed to a July 1 start date as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the university’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. In a letter last week, her legal team said she would not join the faculty unless she was granted tenure.

The University of North Carolina announced the meeting of the board, which approves tenure applications, in a news release on Monday. The release did not disclose the meeting’s agenda but said it was expected to include a closed session.

Shortly after the meeting was announced, Susan King, the dean of the Hussman School, said on Twitter that the board was “completing the tenure process begun so long ago to bring Nikole Hannah-Jones to our school.”

Although the dean, the school’s faculty members, the provost and the chancellor had recommended tenure for Ms. Hannah-Jones, the board declined to vote on the matter at a meeting this year. Ms. Hannah-Jones retained legal counsel to address the board’s lack of action in the matter.

The hiring of Ms. Hannah-Jones, who earned a master’s degree from the university’s journalism school in 2003, prompted a backlash from some conservatives who have been critical of the 1619 Project’s reframing of American history. The journalist has also gained the public support of more than 200 academics and other cultural figures who published a letter in The Root last month saying the board had displayed a “failure of courage.”

On Friday, students at the university held a protest in support of Ms. Hannah-Jones. Ms. King, the Hussman School dean, included a link to a video of the demonstration in a Twitter post.

“We so appreciate our great UNC students’ support & other schools’ support,” the dean wrote.

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