Nikole Hannah-Jones declines UNC tenured position and will join Howard University
Pultizer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has announced that she declined the University of North Carolina’s offer of tenure and a teaching position with the school and has instead accepted a faculty role at Howard University.
Hannah-Jones made the announcement on “CBS This Morning” with Gayle King on Tuesday.
Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates will take on faculty roles at Howard University, the school announced, while also founding a brand new Center for Journalism and Democracy.
With the additions, Coates, a Howard alum, will become a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences, the school said in a news release. Meanwhile, Hannah-Jones will become a tenured member of Howard’s school of communications, filling the newly created position as Knight Chair in Race and Journalism. She will also found the Center for Journalism and Democracy, which will focus on training students in investigative journalism, the school said.
“We are at a critical juncture in our democracy, and yet our press does not reflect the nation it serves and too often struggles to grasp the danger for our country as we see growing attacks on free speech and the fundamental right to vote,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement. “In the storied tradition of the Black press, the Center for Journalism and Democracy will help produce journalists capable of accurately and urgently covering the challenges of our democracy with a clarity, skepticism, rigor and historical dexterity that is too often missing from today’s journalism.”
The move is a significant one for Hannah-Jones, given the recent controversy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where her tenure was initially denied by the UNC system’s board of trustees. On June 30 — after protest from alumni, faculty and students — that decision was flipped.
Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick praised the appointments of Coates and Hannah-Jones in a statement, calling them “two of today’s most respected and influential journalists.”
“At such a critical time for race relations in our country, it is vital that we understand the role of journalism in steering our national conversation and social progress,” Frederick said in a statement. “Not only must our newsrooms reflect the communities where they are reporting, but we need to infuse the profession with diverse talent. We are thrilled that they will bring their insights and research to what is already a world-class, highly accomplished team of professors.”
Coates is known for his racial commentary on the US, gaining notoriety with his 2014 article in The Atlantic called “The Case for Reparations.” He is also the author of the best-selling book “Between the World and Me.”
Hannah-Jones is a renowned journalist focusing on racism in the US. Her most well-known piece of work is the “1619 Project,” a deeply researched piece of journalism that recontextualizes the history of the US around August 1619, when the first slave ship arrived. Her work has won her numerous accolades, including the coveted MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant.
The news of the recent additions comes just over a month after the university announced it will name its newly reestablished College of Fine Arts after Chadwick Boseman, with actress Phylicia Rashad, known for her role on “The Cosby Show,” set to lead as the dean of the college.