UNC Caves, Grants Tenure To ‘1619 Project’ Founder Nikole Hanna-Jones
After launching a media crusade that bashed UNC as ‘racist’ for denying her tenure along with the offer of a lucrative teaching side gig, NYT writer and ‘1619 Project’ founder Nikole Hannah-Jones has succeeded in her quest to strong-arm her alma mater into granting her tenure even before she started her new gig as an assistant professor in the school’s journalism program, the Grey Lady reported.
A few months ago, Jones accepted a position as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the university’s Hussman School of Journalism and was expected to start July 1. Jones won a Pulitzer for her role in creating the project back in 2020.
However, her appointment triggered a backlash from conservatives, including a prominent donor to the school’s journalism program, which produces armies of graduates who are eventually recruited into the American business press.
While previous Knight chairs had been granted tenure, Hannah-Jones was offered a five-year contract with the possibility of tenure review. She formally requested tenure (despite having never taught a class in the role) but the UNC board refused to consider the request, effectively denying it. So, Jones to the media for assistance, slamming the school in an effort to pressure the board into acquiescence.
And on Thursday, just as she was beginning her new role, the school publicly announced that the board of trustees had agreed to grant Hannah-Jones tenure. Vice Chair Gene Davis told the NYT that by deciding to grant Hannah-Jones tenure “this board reaffirms that our university puts its highest values first.”
Hannah-Jones also released a statement, proclaiming “today’s outcome and the actions of the past month are about more than just me…This fight is about ensuring the journalistic and academic freedom of Black writers, researchers, teachers and students.”
While conservative donors reportedly complained privately about Hannah-Jones appointment, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s chief executive personally sent a letter to the board of trustees chairman voicing his support for Hannah-Jones’ tenure application.
Shortly before her teaching stint was set to begin, Hannah-Jones threatened the university, saying she would turn down the role if tenure wasn’t granted.
When the board of trustees voted on Hannah-Jones’ tenure on Wednesday, a group led by the campus’s Black Student Movement showed up to the meeting in support.
In the academic world, “tenure” is like a permanent contract that guarantees the educator employment. The agreements are extremely difficult to break, protecting the educator from being fired for anything other than egregious personal misconduct. Typically, the status is reserved for veteran educators, but as Hannah-Jones complained, her predecessors were all granted tenure immediately.
Thu, 07/01/2021 – 17:00