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UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Psychology and Neuroscience calls for Board of Trustees to act on a tenured position for Nikole Hannah-Jones

The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience is one of the largest departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, serving more than 2,400 undergraduate majors, and teaching thousands of students each year. We call for the Board of Trustees to follow established University governance procedures and vote on a tenured position for esteemed researcher and journalist, UNC alumna, and proposed Knight Chair Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Hannah-Jones’ tenure has been recommended by the School of Journalism and Media, the Provost, and the Chancellor, and is supported by input from subject matter experts who evaluated her credentials and suitability for a tenured faculty position. The Board of Trustees’ inaction on this clear recommendation erodes confidence and trust in our institution. It erodes the trust that our University will stand up for free inquiry among faculty. It erodes the trust that the University will support the scholarship and teaching of our faculty of color. And it erodes the trust that our University will live up to our statements about valuing diversity and creating a campus community where all members feel they belong and can thrive.

We are also alarmed by the message that the Board’s inaction sends to our students, especially (but not exclusively) our students of color. As psychologists and neuroscientists, we are well aware of the established scientific evidence that when students are devalued or marginalized, it is hard for them to learn and thrive, and when learning communities lack diversity and inclusivity, critical thinking and innovation are stifled. The Board of Trustees’ silence on the Hannah-Jones tenure case sends a loud message, and we call on them to vote on a tenured position before more damage is done.

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