The Corner


Did UNC Treat Hannah-Jones Unfairly?

After she had been extended a contract offer that didn’t include instant tenure, Nikole Hannah-Jones went into full attack mode, alleging that the white power structure at UNC had discriminated against her. Naturally, the press swallowed that line, but was it true?

In today’s Martin Center article, Duke University professor Michael Munger sheds some light on the way tenure is given to faculty members.

He writes, “Because of the time pressure, the UNC Provost made a sensible decision, changing the offer to a five-year fixed-term appointment with the option for reappointment. There was no vote on the tenure case, because the dossier was incomplete. This is quite a common occurrence, at every level of the tenure process. It cannot be hurried, and it is frustrating for the candidate. Unfortunately, the combination of events that — viewed dispassionately — could be explained as well within the normal boundaries of bureaucratic process resulted in inflammatory mischaracterizations. According to most sources, including the once-reliable New York Times, Ms. Hannah-Jones had been ‘denied tenure.’ That’s simply not true. If her supporters had resubmitted the file, she might have been voted up. We’ll never know.”

Munger also gives a learned discussion on the nature and location of that much ballyhooed idea, “academic freedom.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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