Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has finally been granted tenure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after a drawn-out and contentious process. Instead she announced that she’ll be taking her teaching talents to an HBCU.
In an interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning, Hannah-Jones said, “To be denied it (tenure) to only have that vote occur on the last possible day, at the last possible moment, after threat of legal action, after weeks of protest, after it became a national scandal, it’s just not something that I want anymore.”
She is now joining Howard University, along with author Ta-Nehisi Coates. The HBCU is Coates’ alma mater.
According to the Associated Press, Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a news release, “It is my pleasure to welcome to Howard two of today’s most respected and influential journalists. At such a critical time for race relations in our country, it is vital that we understand the role of journalism in steering our national conversation and social progress.”
In April, UNC announced Hannah-Jones was appointed to the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, where she would teach as a professor while also remaining with The New York Times Magazine. However, UNC offered her a five-year contract with eligibility for tenure review at the end, rather than the tenured position that was typical for past appointments.
According to CNN, in May, the creator of The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” said in a submitted letter to UNC that she would not take a position at the school without tenure.
Hannah-Jones’ lawyers wrote “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.”
“Under these circumstances, any appointment of Ms. Hannah-Jones without tenure is unacceptable,” the letter continues.
UNC received backlash since the alleged influence behind the offer was initially reported. The UNC Board of Trustees told The Washington Post last month that tenure wasn’t offered because Hannah Jones was a “non academic.” Critics responded that the decision didn’t make sense, since the Knight Chair was designed to attract professional journalists.
NBC News reports the reasoning to not offer tenure originally to Nikole Hannah-Jones was not explained at the June 30 board meeting.