UNC Grants Tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones

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The board of trustees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill approved tenure for Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones on Wednesday in a 9-4 vote.

“This fight is about ensuring the journalistic and academic freedom of Black writers, researchers, teachers and students,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement. “We must ensure that our work is protected and able to proceed free from the risk of repercussions, and we are not there yet.”

Last month, Hannah-Jones declared that she would not be joining the University of North Carolina (UNC) “without the protection and security of tenure.”

Hannah-Jones accepted a position at the university’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism. The appointment ordinarily comes with tenure.

NC Policy Watch first published the letter on its site from a legal representative of Hannah-Jones’ refusing to accept a position from the college if it came without tenure. The letter claimed that a “powerful donor” led to its u-turn.

“Since signing the fixed-term contract, Ms. Hannah-Jones has come to learn that political interference and influence from a powerful donor contributed to the Board of Trustees’ failure to consider her tenure application,” Hannah-Jones’ legal team wrote.

“In light of this information, Ms. Hannah-Jones cannot trust that the University would consider her tenure application in good faith during the period of the fixed-term contract. Such good faith consideration for tenure was understood to be an essential element of the fixed-term contract when Ms. Hannah-Jones agreed to enter into it. In light of the information which has come to her attention since that time, she cannot begin employment with the University without the protection and security of tenure.”

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