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Friday September 24th

Faculty chairperson, SBP highlight larger issues amid Hannah-Jones tenure case

Buy Photos The Carolina Inn, the location of the UNC Board of Trustees meetings, sits on the corner of Columbia Street and West Cameron Avenue.

Update June 21 2:11 p.m.: The Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Public Health released a statement endorsing Chapman's open letter.

In the statement, the department called for the UNC Board of Trustees to cease the delay of Hannah-Jones' tenure case, and to act promptly to approve it. 

"The UNC Board of Trustees' actions in Ms. Hannah-Jones' tenure review are undermining the academic appointment and tenure process and chilling academic freedom," the statement read. 

Chairperson of the Faculty Mimi Chapman wrote a letter, which she posted on Twitter Sunday, to the UNC community Saturday, calling out the Board of Trustees for remaining silent on the Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure situation. 

Chapman wrote that this situation reflects the larger issues of academic hiring within the University.

“Couple this situation with departure notices from notable faculty women of color, individuals who are leaders on this campus who called us to confront hard truths and provided roadmaps for change,” the statement read. 

Student Body President Lamar Richards wrote an open letter to the UNC community, published in NC Policy Watch on Thursday, in which he called the Hannah-Jones controversy just one example of the University prioritizing money and power over its students, faculty and staff.

"Whether Nikole Hannah-Jones should be awarded tenure is a matter that the Board of Trustees should and must discuss," Richards wrote, "but I write to you today knowing that the longer this matter remains unresolved, the more difficult it becomes for this university to move forward."

Richards also said students should brace for a reckoning, which he said University has needed for a long time but is not prepared for, and encouraged prospective students and staff from marginalized communities to look elsewhere.

"While Carolina desperately needs your representation and cultural contributions, it will only bring you here to tokenize and exploit you," he wrote.

In her letter, Chapman also called for clarity regarding the decision for a fixed-term path for Hannah-Jones. 

The tenure dossier for Hannah-Jones was sent to Provost Bob Blouin for review in November, but Blouin delayed sending the dossier until January to prepare for questions or concerns the Board might have. 

“It is my understanding that those concerns included three general categories,” the statement read. “1) the structure of her ongoing employment by The New York Times as well as UNC-Chapel Hill, 2) her teaching and scholarly potential, and 3) academic concerns associated with The 1619 Project.”

The chairperson of the Board's University Affairs Committee, Chuck Duckett, indicated that he had questions regarding the dossier, Chapman wrote, and said that consideration of the dossier would be delayed.

Chapman said she urges all members of the UNC community to speak out on the situation — including students, faculty and staff. 

“You do not have to agree with Ms. Hannah-Jones' conclusions in The 1619 Project to do this,” she wrote. “You only have to agree that faculty voice must govern the tenure process for academic integrity to have meaning.”


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