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UNC released in July the details of its settlement with Nikole Hannah-Jones ’03 (MA), who was offered a teaching position last year at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media before she accepted a post at another university.
The settlement, which according to The News & Observer was for about $75,000, requires UNC to train 20 faculty and staff members as search and selection advisers through Carolina’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The University also must hire an additional trauma-informed therapist and accelerate investment in mental health counseling.
The settlement also requires UNC to reserve $5,000 each fiscal year through 2025 to support meetings and events sponsored by the Carolina Black Caucus. Hannah-Jones cannot apply for employment at UNC through Jan. 1, 2028.
In April 2021, Hannah-Jones, a MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant” recipient and a former New York Times reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for her work on the newspaper’s 1619 Project, was named the Knight Chair in race and investigative journalism at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media. She was offered a five-year contract as a professor but not a tenured position. Her appointment was met with criticism by some people who disagreed with the reporting in the 1619 Project, which examined slavery in the United States.
After the Board of Trustees did not vote on whether to give Hannah-Jones tenure, protests were held on campus and national media covered the issue. The board eventually voted 9-4 to grant Hannah-Jones tenure, but she rejected the offer and accepted a position as the Knight Chair in race and investigative journalism at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Hannah-Jones began her career as an education reporter with The Chapel Hill News and then The News & Observer, where her coverage of school equity and the racial achievement gap in the Durham public school system led the school board to improve education access and quality. She then worked as a reporter at The Oregonian and later at ProPublica.