Top Candidate Rejects UNC Job Offer Over Nikole Hannah-Jones’ Tenure Denial

Lisa Jones, a prominent Black woman chemist turned down a job at UNC Chapel Hill citing the mistreatment shown toward award-winning journalist and founder of The 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones. More than 30 faculty from the chemistry department signed a letter addressed to University administrators stating that denying Hannah-Jones tenure is having a negative impact on their department and “is antithetical to everything we value and represent.” 

Jones, who currently leads chemistry research at the University of Maryland wrote that she couldn’t ignore how UNC denied Hannah-Jones tenure when determining whether she would join the school’s faculty. 

“The news this week that Nikole Hannah-Jones was denied tenure was very disheartening,” Jones wrote in a letter. “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.”

The chemistry department had been working the last two years trying to get Dr. Jones to join their faculty.  

The journalist responded on Twitter to Jones’ show of solidarity, writing in a post, “the solidarity shown me by Black women in particular during this crucible is something I will never forget.” The journalist said she had never met the chemist before.

Hannah-Jones, who is an alumna of UNC, was denied tenure by the Board of Trustees after school officials complained about her work, but she’s pushing back against the decision. 

“I had no desire to bring turmoil or a political firestorm to the university that I love, but I am obligated to fight back against a wave of anti-democratic suppression that seeks to prohibit the free exchange of ideas, silence Black voices and chill free speech,” Hannah-Jones wrote. 

The Pulitzer Prize-winner has retained legal representation and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund told school officials that they would be filing a lawsuit if tenure was not offered to Hannah-Jones by Friday (June 4). 

Photo: Getty Images

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