Award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has declined an offer of tenured professorship at the University of North Carolina and has instead chosen to take on the position at Howard University.
Hannah-Jones made the announcement on “CBS This Morning” on July 6. Being an alumnus of UNC and as someone who’s been an integral part of the university’s educational journalism framework over the past two decades, the news of Hannah-Jones’s decision comes a few months after the university’s board of trustees denied her tenure at its journalism school.
“It’s pretty clear my tenure was not taken up [initially] because of political opposition because of discriminatory views against my viewpoint and I believe my race and my gender,” Hannah-Jones — who is also the founder of the “1619 Project” — told Gayle King this morning on the CBS broadcast.
Noting that she never wanted all of the drama she’d undergone during her tenure application process with UNC to become a “public scandal,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement provided via the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund that she has loved UNC from the time she was a child, is grateful to have completed her master’s degree there, and emphasized that she got the foundation of her journalism training while in that program.
Still though, she couldn’t excuse or understand the university’s problematic denial of tenure in the grand scheme.
“The university’s leadership continues to be dishonest about what happened and patently refuses to acknowledge the truth, to offer any explanation, to own what they did and what they tried to do. Once again, when leadership had the opportunity to stand up, it did not,” Hannah-Jones said on the institution’s lack of explanation as to why her tenure package “had failed twice to come to a vote” back in November 2020 and January 2021 respectively.
At one point in the statement, Hannah-Jones expressed, “These last few weeks have been very dark. To be treated so shabbily by my alma mater, by a university that has given me so much and which I only sought to give back to, has been deeply painful.”
The journalist highlighted that “because of political interference and pressure by conservatives” applied onto UNC, she’d later “been denied consideration for tenure, and instead offered a five-year contract.”
In terms of her decision to move forward with a tenure position at Howard University, one of the most premier historical Black colleges and universities in the country, a statement released by the HBCU highlighted that Hannah-Jones will serve as Knight Chair in Race and Journalism while founding their new Center for Journalism and Democracy within the Cathy Hughes School of Communications.
The announcement of her addition the to institution coincided with that of fellow MacArthur genius grant recipient, Ta-Nehisi Coates — who’s also set to become a part of Howard’s faculty. The award-winning author “will hold the Sterling Brown Chair in the Department of English.”
Referring to them as “two of today’s most respected and influential journalists,” Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick noted:
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. Not only must our newsrooms reflect the communities where they are reporting, but we need to infuse the profession with diverse talent. We are thrilled that they will bring their insights and research to what is already a world-class, highly accomplished team of professors.
Read Hannah-Jones’s thorough statement about the events that transpired with UNC and her decision to move forward with her tenure position at Howard, here.