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Nikole Hannah-Jones Granted Tenure by UNC Trustees

The University of North Carolina’s board of trustees voted on Wednesday to grant tenure to the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, ending a dispute that had stretched on for more than a month.

Nine board members voted in favor of tenure for Ms. Hannah-Jones and four against during a special meeting on the campus in Chapel Hill, which some trustees attended via Zoom.

After the vote was in, Gene Davis, the board’s vice chairman, said that in granting the tenure, “this board reaffirms that our university puts its highest values first.” He added, “We welcome Nikole Hannah-Jones back to Chapel Hill.”

Ms. Hannah-Jones, a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine who earned a master’s degree from U.N.C. in 2003, had 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.

Her appointment drew a swift backlash from conservatives who took issue with her involvement in the 1619 Project, a multimedia series from The Times Magazine that re-examined the legacy of slavery in the United States. Ms. Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for her introductory essay.

The U.N.C. board had not held a vote on whether to give Ms. Hannah-Jones tenure during at least two meetings since her appointment last year, effectively denying her request for tenure, despite recommendations from the Hussman School dean and faculty, as well as the university’s provost and chancellor.

Previous Knight Chairs at the university received tenure. Ms. Hannah-Jones had been offered a five-year contract, with an opportunity for tenure review.

“Today’s outcome and the actions of the past month are about more than just me,” she said in a statement on Wednesday thanking her supporters. “This fight is about ensuring the journalistic and academic freedom of Black writers, researchers, teachers and students.”

Read entire article at New York Times