Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Ida B. Wells Society co-founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, announced on July 6 that she will join the faculty at Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications as the university’s inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism.
Hannah-Jones will begin her tenured post with Howard this summer joining another iconic writer and fellow MacArthur “Genius” Ta-Nehisi Coates as part of the faculty.
The move comes on the heels of a contentious months-long battle to grant Hannah-Jones tenure for the same position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Board of Trustees eventually voted on June 30 to approve her tenure for the position, which Hannah-Jones ultimately declined.
She announced that she would be turning down the position at UNC and instead taking the tenured faculty position at Howard.
In a public statement, Hannah-Jones shared a number of the reasons behind her decision to decline the offer. She also directly addressed several groups and individuals to express her gratitude for their support throughout the process.
“To the UNC faculty, especially the consummate professionals in the journalism school, I so looked forward to being your colleague and to learning from you and working with you. You welcomed me from the start. Our students are lucky to learn from you each day, and the university is lucky to have you,” Hannah-Jones said. “To the students, I am deeply sorry that I will not have the privilege of teaching you and learning from you. You are brave and full of grace, and I am so very proud of you all. My commitment to you has not wavered, I just will continue to do it as I have in the past, as an alum of the school and not faculty. I hope that you will consider Howard or another HBCU if you ever seek a new educational home, but whatever you do, I know you will continue to fight for justice.”
While working as the Knight chair at Howard, Hannah-Jones will also establish the Center for Journalism and Democracy with a plan to focus on training and supporting aspiring journalists with an emphasis on investigative skills.
“In the storied tradition of the Black press, the Center for Journalism and Democracy will help produce journalists capable of accurately and urgently covering the challenges of our democracy with a clarity, skepticism, rigor, and historical dexterity that is too often missing from today’s journalism. I am so grateful to the Ford, Knight, and MacArthur foundations for the initial funding to launch the center and hope to very quickly meet the center’s $25 million fundraising goal,” Hannah-Jones said.
“I will always be a Tar Heel. I remain grateful for all the university has given me and am committed to a lifetime of paying it forward. And I am so excited to now call myself a Bison as well and join the Howard family of which I have long desired to belong,” she said.
As for the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting which was co-founded by Hannah-Jones and is currently housed at UNC’s journalism school, for now, the leadership said that’s where will remain.
Ida B. Wells Society director Rhema Bland said, however, that “the founders are constantly evaluating what’s best for the organization and will continue to do so.”