Highly sought-after chemist turns down job at UNC-CH as Hannah-Jones tenure dispute unfolds

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Eyewitness News learned another highly sought-after professor has turned down a faculty position at North Carolina's flagship university because of the ongoing controversy with journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Dr. Lisa Jones, a chemist at the University of Maryland, said in a statement that even though she hasn't met Hannah-Jones, she stands in solidarity with her.

"I stand in solidarity with her and could not in good conscience accept a position at UNC," Jones wrote. "This situation is indicative of a broader issue within academia where faculty of color face several obstacles and are less likely to gain tenure."

Friday was supposedly the drop-dead day for UNC to reconsider the tenure status of Ms. Hannah-Jones or face a lawsuit.

Joel Curran, vice chancellor for communications for UNC, wrote on Friday saying the university "responded to a letter from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund regarding Nikole Hannah-Jones' employment. We look forward to continued dialogue with her counsel."

ABC11 attempted to reach Ms. Hannah-Jones via email and social media but didn't hear anything back as of late Friday.

UNC has been thrown into a frenzy for the last month over the fate of alum and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

"This should be a plain and simple hire," said Deb Aikat, associate professor in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism. "Let's get on with our business of teaching and influencing research agenda and serving our state and beyond."

As far as professor Aikat knows, Ms. Hannah-Jones is still coming to UNC on July 1.

The journalist behind the acclaimed '1619 Project' with the New York Times and agreed to a five-year contract which allows her to apply for tenure during that time.

Whatever is decided, faculty members are asking for transparency including the chair of the faculty Dr. Mimi Chapman. She wrote an op-ed in the Daily Tar Heel this week.

Professor Aikat said nearly 40 professors signed on to the statement saying they were concerned about the repercussions of this including the latest issue with Dr. Jones.

"So this is not something just the journalism faculty are concerned about," Aikat said. "I strongly feel this is kind of delay reflects justice delayed and justice denied.

The Board of Trustees next meets in mid-July.
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