A dean at the University of North Carolina (UNC) emailed an ABC News reporter insisting that the outlet “protect” “1619 Project” author and Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones in her battle for tenure at the university. 

According to emails obtained by Campus Reform, ABC News’ Averi Harper — an alumna of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media — emailed the Journalism and Media Dean Susan King asking why the university had yet to offer Hannah-Jones tenure. 

Harper emailed: 

We’re not losing sight of the big picture, we’re trying to gauge what the issue is and where the breakdown in the process was. 

The university-wide tenure committee didn’t put it on the agenda? Or the committee of faculty within the J-School? Who is on this committee? 

Richard Stevens seemed to place blame on you yesterday, which is partly why [I] reached out to you for clarity. I know your character and given your role in trying to bring Nikole to the school, it didn’t sound like you would intentionally snub her. 

King responded to Harper saying that the Board of Trustees declined to consider Hannah-Jones’ tenure. She insisted that the news outlet “protect Nikole.” 

King said: 

It’s clear there was NO DENIAL of tenure. The committee didn’t put it on the agenda… best I can tell. The package was ready since the fall — so the specifics of when and timing of board activities get away from the big issues. 

She deserves tenure. Her package is perhaps the best I’ve ever seen. … 

Protect Nikole. She deserves it and I’m doing all I can to make this right. We really want her here.” 

The emails were exchanged amid the battle between UNC and the New York Times author, who had never taught a college class, over whether to grant her immediate tenure. The Daily Wire reported that the UNC Board of Trustees initially denied Hannah-Jones immediate tenure, instead offering her a five-year term with the potential of tenure down the road.  

The board ultimately voted in favor of granting Hannah-Jones tenure in July, despite opposition from a donor with direct ties to the Republican-dominated UNC Board of Governors. One of the top opponents to Hannah-Jones’ immediate tenure approval was Walter Hussman, the UNC donor whose name adorns the university’s journalism school. 

Hussman told NPR that he was “given pause by some prominent scholars’ criticism that Hannah-Jones distorted the historical record in arguing that the protection of slavery was one of the Founding Fathers’ primary motivations in seeking independence from the British.”

Despite receiving tenure, Hannah-Jones rejected UNC’s position and opted to accept a tenured position at Howard University’s school of communications as the newly created Knight Chair of Race and Journalism. Hannah-Jones will also lead Howard University’s Center for Journalism and Democracy, which will allegedly train students in investigative journalism. 

Related: ‘1619’ Creator Nikole Hannah-Jones Rejects UNC Tenure Offer After Weeks Of Complaining

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