Nikole Hannah-Jones posing with the Ida B. Wells monument in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Hannah-Jones

UNC trustees approve tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones

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Trustees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill voted 9-4 to accept a plan to offer investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure on Wednesday, The Associated Press reports.

The university announced Hannah-Jones, who won a Pulitzer Prize for The 1619 Project in the New York Times Magazine, would join the journalism school as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism in April, but the process was halted for weeks by the board of trustees, according to The New York Times.

The U.N.C. board had not held a vote on whether to give 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.

“This fight is about ensuring the journalistic and academic freedom of Black writers, researchers, teachers, and students,” said Hannah-Jones to NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “We must ensure that our work is protected and able to proceed free from the risk of repercussions, and we are not there yet. These last weeks have been very challenging and difficult and I need to take some time to process all that has occurred and determine what is the best way forward.”

Dawna Jones, chair of the Carolina Black Caucus and assistant dean of students at UNC, said Black faculty members have complained for years about being overlooked for promotions, not receiving professional development, and being overworked and expected to take on added responsibilities such as serving as diversity chairs of search committees and mentoring students.

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