Hannah-Jones: Settlement to support Black faculty, students

July 19, 2022 GMT

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A settlement between journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill linked to her tenure dispute in 2021 contains concessions designed to help faculty and students of color, according to her post on Twitter on Tuesday.

Hannah-Jones tweeted that she and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund fought for the concession, which were not mentioned in the university’s settlment announcement last Friday. At the time, the school said the settlement with Hannah-Jones was for less than $75,000 and was approved by school Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

“But my settlement was about much more than that,” she tweeted.

The settlement includes $5,000 reserved in the provost’s office to pay for meeting expenses, events and symposia sponsored by the Carolina Black Caucus per year through June 2025, according to Hannah-Jones. She said the concessions were based on the requests of student and faculty groups.

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“We believe that these concessions will help make my alma mater better and help it live up to its promise,” she said. “As I said again and again: This was never about me.”

Hannah-Jones — who won the Pulitzer Prize for her work on The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project focusing on America’s history of slavery — was hired as UNC’s Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

A dispute over whether UNC should grant Hannah-Jones a lifetime faculty appointment prompted a widespread outcry from professors and alumni as well as Black students and faculty. Her tenure application stalled over objections by a powerful donor and concerns by conservatives about her work.

Hannah-Jones’ tenure application was submitted to UNC’s trustees in 2020, but it was halted after a board member who vets the appointments raised questions about her nonacademic background. She would instead be given a five-year contract, despite the fact that her predecessors were granted tenure when appointed. After weeks of mounting pressure, the trustees finally voted 9-4 to offer tenure.

Hannah-Jones told The Associated Press that the unfairness of how she was treated as a Black woman steered her toward turning the offer down. She accepted a chaired professorship at Howard University, a historically Black school in Washington, D.C.