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Faculty statement in support of Nikole Hannah-Jones

Faculty members at UNC School of Social Work have published the following statement regarding Nikole Hannah-Jones, new Knight Chair on the faculty of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism, and the current tenure status of her appointment:

Faculty Statement

We the undersigned faculty of the UNC School of Social Work echo the outrage expressed on behalf of Nikole Hannah-Jones — a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose 20-year professional record includes a Peabody Award and the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” for the brilliance of her work — who was not extended tenure for her appointment as the Knight Chair for Race and Investigative Journalism, a professorship for which previous appointees have received tenure.

The decision by the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees (BOT) is an assault on academic freedom and represents a suppression of free speech and the ability to examine dissenting points of view. The BOT decision is an attack on the discourse and critical thinking fundamental to higher education. This decision sends a message to scholars around the world that UNC is a place where censorship of writing and research exists, and conversations about racial justice are stifled. In its failure to act affirmatively on the tenure recommendation, the BOT has rejected the faculty’s expertise in tenure recommendations, principles of shared governance, and the traditional role of the BOT in tenure decisions.

This action by the BOT, sends a chilling effect to our entire campus community. As a faculty, we would be honored to call Nikole Hannah-Jones a colleague. We stand in solidarity with the Hussman School and University processes that supported Nikole Hannah-Jones’ tenure recommendation. The BOT’s current actions places the integrity of our University at stake and erodes the founding principles of “lux, libertas” — light and liberty. UNC’s stated mission is to “chart a bold course of change to improve society and help solve the world’s greatest problems;” accordingly, we have an obligation to support and protect bold and brilliant scholars to meet this charge.


Signatories (as of June 22, 2021):

  1. Travis J. Albritton, MSW, MDiv, PhD
  2. Lisa de Saxe Zerden, MSW, PhD
  3. Sarah Verbiest, DrPH, MSW, MPH
  4. Karon F. Johnson, MSW, LCSW
  5. Neil Bilotta, MSW, PhD
  6. Marilyn Ghezzi, MSW, LCSW
  7. Melissa Godwin, MSW, LCSW
  8. Denisé Dews, MSW
  9. Kathleen M. D. Malley, MEd, PhD
  10. Sarah E. (Betsy) Bledsoe, PhD, MPhil, MSW
  11.  Tanya Jisa, MSW
  12.  Michael McGuire, LCSW, LMFT, LCAS, CCS
  13.  Laurie Selz Campbell, MSW, CPRP
  14.  D. F. Duncan, PhD
  15.  Mellicent O’Brien Blythe, LCSW
  16.  JP Przewoznik, MSW
  17.  Kirsten Kainz, PhD
  18.  Rachel W. Goode, PhD, MPH, LCSW
  19.  Todd Jensen, PhD, MSW
  20.  Paul Lanier, PhD, MSW
  21.  Trenette Clark Goings, PhD, LICSW
  22.  Sharon Thomas, MSW
  23.  Deborah Barrett, PhD, LCSW
  24.  Michael C. Lambert, MSS, MA, PhD
  25.  Ronni Zuckerman, MSW
  26.  Robin L. Sansing, MSW, LCSW
  27.  Amy Levine, MSW, LCSW
  28.  Sarah Naylor, PhD, MTS
  29.  Sheryl Zimmerman, PhD
  30.  Mimi Chapman, MSW, PhD
  31.  Theresa Palmer, MSW, LCSW
  32.  David Ansong, PhD, MSW
  33. Tauchiana Williams, MSW, LCSW
  34. Evi Taylor, PhD, LCSW
  35. Rebecca Brigham, MSW
  36. Gary S. Cuddeback, PhD
  37. Amy Blank Wilson, PhD, MSW
  38. Gary Bowen, PhD, ACSW
  39. C. Joy Stewart, MSW, PhD
  40. Meryl Kanfer, MSW, LCSW
  41. Josh Hinson, MSW, LCSW
  42.  Allison De Marco, MSW, PhD
  43. Will Hall, PhD, MSW