The faculty at University of North Carolina journalism school bearing the name of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher/owner Walter Hussman yesterday expressed unhappiness at a meeting about posting his statement of ‘core values’ on the school and its website and it was subsequently removed from the website, the Raleigh News and Observer reports this morning.
This is part of the continuing controversy about Hussman’s opposition to the school’s effort to hire 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones as a distinguished professor. She ultimately rejected the job rather than work for a school named for Hussman.
The faculty had expressed support for Hannah-Jones’ hiring.
The statement, which Hussman publishes in his newspaper daily, is to be posted in granite as a condition of Hussman’s promise of a $25 million gift. The gift is to be payable in installments over at least 14 years. He made his first $1.3 million gift in 2019, tax records show and was scheduled to make another in each of the succeeding eight years, with another $12.5 million to be paid over five years after his and his wife’s death.
The News and Observer reported:
Faculty say the display gives the impression those statements are values of the school and its faculty, and in a draft of a statement seen by The News & Observer, faculty wrote it should be removed or given more context. The draft also said Hussman’s actions had been harmful to the school’s reputation.
During a town hall on Wednesday, which was attended by around 70 people, no vote was taken on the statement and it is still being revised.
Kate Sheppard, a teaching associate professor at the journalism school, said Wednesday’s meeting was “a productive conversation … that shed light on a lot of concerns and thoughts about how we might proceed.”
“I am heartened,” she added, “that Dean (Susan) King has elected to take Walter Hussman Jr.’s ‘Statement of Core Values’ off our school website as they were previously displayed, (and) as we discuss how those words should be represented going forward.”
One professor is quoted as expressing disappointment about the terms of the agreement by which Hussman bought naming rights. The terms were revealed Tuesday by the News and Observer.
Shannon McGregor, a professor at the school who researches social media, said many faculty were disappointed they had no input on what was included in Hussman’s contract.
“At the end of the day our greatest quarrel with all of this,” she said, “is there was not a process that involved all stakeholders when these values were put up.”
She said faculty members didn’t know what was in the contract until an N&O report on the contract was published Wednesday afternoon.
Following the meeting, however, the statement of core values was removed from the school’s website, and Dean Susan King told attendees she would explore options with lawyers about what the school can do with the display in the lobby, according to people who attended.
In a letter yesterday to the chancellor of the Chapel Hill campus, Hussman said he remained committed to his gift and repeated his contention he’d done nothing improper in his comments in opposition to Hannah-Jones.