Counting down the top 5 stories from the UNC-Nikole Hannah Jones saga
University of North Carolina set out to integrate Hannah-Jones into their faculty as a centerpiece of their journalism program, a voyage that ultimately turned out to be a series of unfortunate events for the school.
New York Times author Nikole Hannah-Jones launched herself into the national spotlight back in 2019, when she first published the 1619 Project -- a revisionist exposé intended to ”reframe the country’s history” by marking 1619 -- when the first slave ship supposedly arrived to America -- rather than 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress.
After receiving the Pulitzer Prize for her widely criticized and debunked project, the University of North Carolina set out to integrate Hannah-Jones into their faculty as a centerpiece of their journalism program, a voyage that ultimately turned out to be a series of unfortunate events for the school.
Here are the top 5 UNC-Nikole Hannah Jones moments from this year.
In April, Campus Reform reported on 1619 Project author Nikole Hannah-Jones’ plan to join UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media as a “knight chair in race and investigative journalism.”
Karen Rundlet, journalism director at Knight Foundation, called Hannah-Jones “an outstanding addition to this group of leaders,” according to the school’s press release on the matter.
Hannah-Jones stated that her course would aim to “examine the big questions about journalism” and bring the practical experiences and advice of someone who covered daily beats, who had to fight to be in a position to do big projects, who can speak to the rigors of academic and accumulated knowledge, but also the practicalities of how you build a career, navigate the industry and deal with setbacks.”
Upon receiving an offer to join UNC’s journalism department as a professor, documents obtained by Campus Reform revealed that Hannah-Jones was offered a 5-year contract with an annual salary of $180,000.
The full-time position would have been primarily funded by the state and would have run through June 30, 2026.
Upon request, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill public records office told Campus Reform that “The academic-year salary for the Knight Chair is $180,000. 33 percent of the academic salary and benefits is provided by the Knight Chair Endowment Grant. The remainder (67 percent) is provided by state funding by the Hussman School of Journalism.”
After it was discovered that Hannah-Jones was set to be paid a $180,000 annual salary, it was then revealed that UNC was attempting to grant tenure to the New York Times author.
However, the attempt that would go on to receive widespread criticism, as tenure is mostly only awarded to academics solidified in their research and time in higher ed, prompting the school to respond to the backlash by pulling their tenure offer.
The decision to revoke tenure was met by harsh protests from students, who stormed a UNC Trustee’s meeting to protest in support of Hannah-Jones.
Following protests from students and faculty who rushed to her defense, on June 30, the school’s Board of Trustee’s caved on their denying tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones, and voted 9-4 to re-launch their tenure offer as the school’s Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism.
The vote took place during a 3-hour private meeting, but a video emerged on social media which showed a mob of protestors being kept out of the room as the deliberations took place.
The decision, however, was ultimately in vain, as Hannah-Jones denied UNC’s offer and accepted a position at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
After bending over backwards only to receive mass criticism on both ends, UNC’s final tenure offer to Nikole Hannah-Jones was ultimately in vain.
Hannah-Jones rejected the school’s prestigious offer, and accepted a position at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Hannah-Jones stated that the tenure offer was “just not something [she wanted] anymore,” in an interview with CBS Today.
According to The 19th, Hannah-Jones recalled the UNC controversy, saying that “I just feel like going to Howard is where I was supposed to be all along.” Howard being a historically black college appeared to have an influence in her decision to accept their offer.
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