Demonstrators protest a UNC-Chapel Hill trustees meeting as the board prepared to discuss and vote on tenure for distinguished journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones during a closed session. #UNC pic.twitter.com/PTTFzZnQwk
— Travis Long (@vizjourno) June 30, 2021
The University of North Carolina Board of Trustees voted 9-4 today to accompany a distinguished journalism professorship for 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones with the tenure she was promised and which is normally given to people in such professorships.
The event came with the drama of eviction of protesters supporting Hannah-Jones as the meeting began.
It will, presumably, be unwelcome news to Walter Hussman Jr., the publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, whose $25 million promised gift resulted in the journalism school at which she will teach being named after him. He’d worked behind the scenes — talking with the dean of the school, a member of the Board of Trustees and others — to say she’d be a bad thing for his journalism school. He takes exception to her opinions on the influence of slavery on American history.
Hussman insisted he applied no pressure, but merely supplied information from his intensive study and said he did so as a UNC graduate. The putative newsman was surprised when news of his pressure campaign was revealed through investigative reporters and the state’s open records act. That disclosed communications he’d made with people at the public institution. When the Board wouldn’t provide tenure, a movement arose in support of Hannah-Jones and she said she wouldn’t take the job without tenure.
The vote comes at the end of this video. The Board vice chair, lawyer Gene Davis, read a statement that welcomed people with different points of view. A university is not a place to “cancel” people or to call them “woke.” Tom Cotton, Trent Garner, the Arkansas legislature, etc. will not like this kind of talk. Divisive concepts must be silenced.
Hussman later issued a statement saying he looked forward to meeting Hannah-Jones and discussing journalism.