Nikole Hannah-Jones confirms settlement reached with UNC

Nikole Hannah-Jones confirms settlement reached with UNC

July 20, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

The University of North Carolina has confirmed the dollar amount of my settlement over my tenure in media reports, but my settlement was about much more than that,” Hannah-Jones wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

She said she and her team with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund fought for concessions that would support the work of faculty and students of color on campus. They include: “UNC committing to training 20 faculty and staff as [paid] search and selection process advisors to help diversify university hiring” as well as a commitment to post a position by July 31 for an “additional trauma-informed therapist within the Multicultural Health Program” and to hire a “qualified applicant for this position.”

The settlement also includes “funds reserved in the Provost’s office to pay for meeting expenses, events and symposia sponsored by the Carolina Black Caucus in the sum of $5,000 per year through June of 2025.”

“We took these concessions directly from the asks of student and faculty groups and fought very hard for them,” Hannah-Jones tweeted. “We believe that these concessions will help make my alma mater better and help it live up to its promise. As I said again and again: This was never about me.”

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In many ways, the university’s opposition to approving her tenure seemed to have little to do with Hannah-Jones’ actual qualifications to be a professor also.

After all, she appeared to be set to become UNC’s Knight chair in race and investigative journalism after she made the assertion in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” that “no aspect of the country” has been “untouched” by “years of slavery.” The university’s journalism faculty, its promotions team, and its tenure committee voted to give the prolific journalist tenure, Daily Kos earlier reported. Republicans, however—namely mega-donor Walter Hussman, for whom the university’s journalism school is named—are said to have put a stop to Hannah-Jones’ tenure track at UNC. The board of trustees didn’t even vote on her after Hussman and other conservatives lobbied the board and administration to reject Hannah-Jones, who happened to have earned her master’s degree in journalism from UNC.

RELATED STORY: Hannah-Jones rejects UNC tenure offer. She, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and $20 million are going to Howard

After the university announced the settlement with Hannah-Jones, UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees Chair David Boliek had these warm and fuzzy remarks to say in a statement provided to Daily Kos: 

“The steps taken to resolve the lingering potential legal action posed by Ms. Hannah-Jones will hopefully help to close this chapter and give the University the space to focus on moving forward.”

RELATED STORY: Nikole Hannah-Jones: ‘If we do nothing, they will co-opt our history and use it against us’

Hannah-Jones has since been named the inaugural Knight chair in race and journalism at Howard University. “It was embarrassing to be the first person to be denied tenure,” she said of UNC last year. “It was embarrassing, and I didn’t want this to become a public scandal.”



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