UNC journalism dean resigns post after Nikole Hannah-Jones controversy

UNC announced yesterday that Susan King will step down as dean of its journalism and media school.

King was involved in the Nikole Hannah-Jones controversy earlier this year, particularly over extension of a fixed-term contract offer.

Susan King is stepping down as dean of the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. 

The university announced the decision yesterday. 

The Hussman School faced backlash from progressives after it apparently backed off from a plan to give Hannah-Jones tenure for her work as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism. 

After the University of North Carolina trustees voted to grant Hannah-Jones tenure, the “1619 Project” author announced her refusal of the post on July 6 and that she would teach at Howard University this fall. 

[RELATED: REPORT: UNC journalism school backs off plan to give tenure to author of debunked ‘1619 Project’]

Last week, emails obtained by Campus Reform via public records request showed that King had provided what appeared to be contradictory narrative points on Hannah-Jones’ hiring process. 

King claimed in a May 21 email to the Carolina Alumni Review that she “did not” initiate the shift to a five-year fixed contract. This assertion, however, differs from Board of Trustees Chair Richard Stevens’ explanation to Indy Week published, in which he characterized the dean as taking initiative on the fixed-term contract. 

[RELATED: Was Nikole Hannah-Jones ‘happy’ with non-tenured offer? Emails reveal confusion, conflicting opinions at UNC.]

King is now resigning after nine years in her position; although she will continue to carry out her job until a replacement is found.

“Susan began her service as dean in January 2012 and has advanced the school in numerous ways during her decade as its leader,” a university statement reads. “Her emphasis on creating experiential learning opportunities for students, increasing faculty support and upgrading facilities to reflect media innovation are among the reasons media and journalism is now the University’s second-largest major.”

The statement did not provide a reason for King’s decision to step down.

Campus Reform reached out to the University of North Carolina for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow Ben Zeisloft on Twitter