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Chemistry Prof Declines UNC Job Offer Citing School’s Refusal To Give ‘1619 Project’ Author Tenure
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MAY 16: Author Nikole Hannah-Jones attends the 137th Commencement at Morehouse College on May 16, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Marcus Ingram/Getty Images

A chemistry professor turned down a job at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) citing the school’s refusal to give “1619 Project” author Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure. 

According to the Huffington Post, Lisa Jones, a chemist and professor at the University of Maryland, withdrew her candidacy for a job at UNC saying that she couldn’t look “past UNC’s treatment of Hannah-Jones when considering whether to join its faculty.” 

“The news this week that Nikole Hannah-Jones was denied tenure was very disheartening,” Jones said. “It does not seem in line with a school that says it is interested in diversity. Although I know this decision may not reflect the view of the school’s faculty, I will say that I cannot see myself accepting a position at a university where this decision stands. I appreciate all of the effort you have put into trying to recruit me but for me, this is hard to overlook.” 

More than 30 faculty members from the chemistry department penned a letter to school administrators claiming that the school’s refusal to give Hannah-Jones tenure has injured the university. The letter to UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz claims that denying the author tenure “is antithetical to everything we value and represent.” 

The Daily Wire reported that UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media offered tenure to Hannah-Jone under the school’s Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism position. The UNC Board of Trustees denied Hannah-Jones immediate tenure, instead offering her a five-year term with the potential for tenure down the road. 

“This is a very political thing,” a UNC Board of Trustees member said. “The university and the board of trustees and the Board of Governors and the legislature have all been getting pressure since this thing was first announced last month. There have been people writing letters and making calls, for and against. But I will leave it to you which is carrying more weight.” 

Critics of the university’s decision claim that the school is “bending over to white supremacy” by refusing Hannah-Jones immediate tenure. 

The Root writes

Imagine your very public bending over to white supremacy becoming part of your legacy. Seems to me UNC-Chapel Hill would’ve been much better off ignoring all of the white tears and doing right by Hannah-Jones. Maybe the board never expected that so many people — Black people especially — would be standing together in support of Hannah-Jones and refusing to be quiet about the effort to keep American history whitewashed. 

Hannah-Jones received intense criticism for the “1619 Project.” She received a Pulitzer Prize for her work, though it has come under fire from historians for its one-sidedness. 

Among the critics is James McPherson, professor emeritus of history at Princeton University and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. McPherson called the project “unbalanced” and “one-sided.” 

“I was disturbed by what seemed like a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history,” the historian said. 

Hannah-Jones has since signed book deals for two new books, eight new essays, and teamed up with Oprah Winfrey to create several feature films and documentaries.

Related: Oregon Department of Education Drops $50,000 On Nikole Hannah-Jones ‘1619 Project’ Webinars 

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