PW Exclusive: UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees will vote on Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure this week

By: - June 28, 2021 9:52 am

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees will vote on tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones this week, N.C. Policy Watch has learned.

Nikole Hannah Jones

According to two people directly involved in the process, a vote will be announced Monday morning and will be held as early as Wednesday.

“There are enough trustees who want to see a vote on this, on the record and in public, that it’s going to happen,” said a member of the board Monday.

The member asked not to be identified so they could discuss a personnel matter and deliberations of the board.

Another member of the board confirmed the vote Monday, saying there was a push not to wait until July 1, when members will cycle off the board and new members come on.

As Policy Watch has reported, Hannah-Jones’s legal team said last week she would not begin at the school without tenure. Her start date was to be July 1.

Last week Lamar Richards, UNC-Chapel Hill Student Body President and board of trustees member, petitioned for a special called meeting of the board to discuss Hannah-Jones’s tenure.

Late Monday, UNC Media Relations confirmed a special meeting on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the Hill Ballroom at the Carolina Inn.

The meeting is anticipated to go into closed session pursuant to North Carolina Open Meetings Law provisions, according to the announcement.

The meeting will be streamed live online so that access to the meeting is available to the public and news media, the announcement said. Information on how to watch the meeting will be posted on the Board of Trustees website shortly before the meeting:

Susan King, dean of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, took to Twitter to comment on the announcement.

“UNC’s BOT is completing the tenure process begun so long ago to bring @NikoleHannahJones to our school as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Reporting,” King wrote. “On behalf of our faculty and staff – and the larger UNC campus – we are grateful. She has earned this distinction.”

It is not yet certain the board will approve Hannah-Jones’s tenure. But on Monday sources on the board told Policy Watch they believe the votes now exist to approve it, though heavy political pressure is being exerted on members to either reject her application or find a way to prevent a vote from happening altogether.

“There have been discussions of financial settlements, of board members not showing up to the meeting and either preventing a vote or just not being on record even if the vote happens,” one board member told Policy Watch Monday. “Right now I think the momentum is with approval and we’ll just see if that can stay steady for the next 48 hours.”

Policy Watch will follow this developing story.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Joe Killian
Joe Killian

Investigative Reporter Joe Killian's work examines government, politics and policy, with a special emphasis on higher education, LGBTQ issues and extremism.