Report: Nikole Hannah-Jones won't come to UNC without tenure position

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has issued an ultimatum to UNC, saying she's not coming to Chapel Hill without tenure.

According to a letter from her attorneys obtained by NC Policy Watch, Hannah-Jones will not start her position as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism on July 1 when she was scheduled.

Last month, ABC11 learned that she agreed to a five-year contract that allowed her to apply for tenure during that time but did not guarantee it.

UNC didn't share the letter from Hannah-Jones' attorneys Tuesday but said they've been in contact.

"While this remains a confidential personnel matter, as Chancellor (Kevin) Guskiewicz has said publicly, we feel she will add great value to the Carolina Campus," the University stated.

Hannah Jones graduated from UNC's Hussman School of Journalism and she's behind the New York Times' controversial 1619 Project, which has drawn the ire of conservatives and others for what critics call a skewed revision of American history.

"For an organization that builds community, that celebrates and empowers Black faculty and staff and students at UNC, that's devastating for us," said Dawna Jones, chair of the Carolina Black Caucus at UNC.

Jones is also an assistant dean of students and adjunct instructor within the School of Education.

"We are very concerned that not only are we seeing the fallout from the Silent Sam controversy but we're going to see the trickle-down effect from this issue for years to come," Jones said.

The chair of the Black Caucus said last week that 60% of the Black staff and faculty were actively searching outside the institution.

Just days ago, UNC Faculty Chair Dr. Mimi Chapman asked for the university and Board of Trustees to act on the tenure vote.

In part, she wrote, "The reputational threat to our university grows by the day and we remain in the headlines for all the wrong reasons."

Lamar Richards, the newly elected student body president at UNC, penned an Op-Ed last week urging those from historically marginalized communities to "look elsewhere" before coming to Chapel Hill.

"It is troubling for me as an individual who cares about this institution but quite frankly I'm more concerned about our students," Jones said. "As Black faculty, as BIPOC faculty and staff leave our institution, that leaves a big dearth for our students."

Neither Hannah-Jones nor her attorneys could be reached for comment as of late Tuesday night.
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