Nikole Hannah-Jones Humiliates UNC

Award-winning 'genius' rejects tenure offer, will join Howard University instead

July 6, 2021

Less than a week after the University of North Carolina board of trustees approved tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times opinion journalist publicly humiliated her alma mater by accepting a competing offer from Howard University.

The Associated Press reports:

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones says she will not teach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill following an extended fight over tenure there, and instead will take a tenured position at Howard University, which has scored another major recruiting victory in the hiring of author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

UNC initially offered Hannah-Jones a job without tenure after a board member challenged her teaching credentials, provoking weeks of tension. The trustees ultimately approved tenure last week, voting 9-4 to accept her application at a special meeting with a closed-door session that sparked a protest by her supporters.

In accordance with the longstanding journalistic practice of not making oneself the center of a story, Hannah-Jones announced her decision Tuesday during an appearance on CBS This Morning, in an exclusive interview published with NC Policy Watch, and in a lengthy statement posted by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

"I've spent my entire life fighting to prove that I belonged and deserved to be in predominantly white institutions," Hannah-Jones told NC Policy Watch. "When this whole story broke and I learned more and more about what happened in the background, I decided that wasn't the fight I wanted anymore."

In the formal statement explaining her decision, Hannah-Jones described a "very dark" period in the weeks since she accepted UNC's offer of a five-year contract worth $900,000. Academic experts told the Washington Free Beacon the university made the right call by not immediately granting tenure to the controversial journalist, who lacked the requisite academic experiences and whose work has been denounced by history scholars.

Nevertheless, critics assailed UNC's decision, prompting Hannah-Jones to withdraw her acceptance of the offer and demand tenure. UNC ultimately gave Hannah-Jones what she wanted, but it wasn't good enough. "At some point when you have proven yourself and fought your way into institutions that were not built for you, when you've proven you can compete and excel at the highest level, you have to decide that you are done forcing yourself in," she said in her statement.

Hannah-Jones will presumably be compensated even more generously at Howard, where she will serve as the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Reporting at the Center for Journalism and Democracy. The position is being funded in part by nearly $20 million in donations from the Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and one anonymous donor.

Celebrity intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates, a Howard alum who charges up to $40,000 for his public lectures on racism, will join Hannah-Jones at the university. Prior to the controversy surrounding her $900,000 contract offer from UNC, Hannah-Jones was best known for violating Twitter's terms of service (and the New York Times's own social media guidelines) by doxxing a Free Beacon reporter and suffering no consequences after refusing to apologize.