UNC Journalism Program Has Accreditation Downgraded After Not Hiring Crackpot 1619 Project Founder

You may recall that last year NY Times journalist and 1619 Project author Nikole Hannah Jones was denied tenure by the University of North Carolina last year after she was offered a position at the school:

In late April, the university announced that Ms. Hannah-Jones was being appointed to the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at U.N.C.’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. She will start as a professor in July, while continuing to write for The Times Magazine. Instead of tenure, Ms. Hannah-Jones was offered a five-year contract as a professor, with an option for review…

The website NC Policy Watch reported on Wednesday that U.N.C.’s board of trustees had declined to approve Ms. Hannah-Jones’s application for tenure. A spokeswoman for the university, Joanne Peters Denny, said in a statement that “details of individual faculty hiring processes are personnel protected information.”…

Nearly 40 faculty members from the journalism school signed an online statement on Wednesday calling for the decision to be reversed, saying the failure to grant tenure to Ms. Hannah-Jones “unfairly moves the goal posts and violates longstanding norms and established processes.” The statement added, “This failure is especially disheartening because it occurred despite the support for Hannah-Jones’s appointment as a full professor with tenure by the Hussman dean, Hussman faculty and university.”

As a result of the controversy, Hannah Jones abandoned the position at UNC and took a position at Howard University instead. But it appears there’s an institutional price to pay for hesitating to offer tenure to a Pulitzer Prize winner. Last week UNC’s journalism school had its accreditation downgraded on equity grounds.

The change is due to the ACEJMC’s concerns regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the school, especially in the wake of journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones turning down a tenured position because of administrative controversy surrounding her hiring…

“[T]he UNC Hussman School is dealing with an existential crisis both internally and externally,” the ACEJMC wrote. “The [Hannah-Jones] controversy… exposed long-standing problems. Many stem from inconsistencies in executing the goals in the 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.”

The accrediting body investigated last year and found that “students were complaining about a lack of diversity and the use of ‘culturally insensitive’ classroom examples.” Today a professor at the journalism school, which has been accredited since 1958, said students and faculty were being punished for a decision they didn’t make.

“It wasn’t the journalism department that didn’t want to tenure Nikole Hannah-Jones,” Mimi Chapman, the council chair, said of the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist whose appointment for the job became a national story and a source of division on the campus last year. “That was a problem at the Board of Trustees level, which has been widely reported. The delay in the vote and the whole maneuvering behind the scenes is what produced this problem.”…

Chapman said she was not surprised about the decision, but she added, “The faculty and students bear the brunt for a situation that they didn’t create, and that’s a shame.”

Here’s a report from WRAL on the downgrade.

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