Statement to the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
As faculty in the Department of Religious Studies, we are committed to Carolina’s mission:
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, serves North Carolina, the United States, and the world through teaching, research, and public service. We embrace an unwavering commitment to excellence as one of the world’s great research universities.
As trustees, you have been charged with fulfilling this mission and upholding this standard of excellence.
The failure to consider the tenure of Nikole Hannah-Jones harms the university’s reputation and its ability to attract and retain the best and brightest faculty to serve the people of this state. As a consequence, UNC Chapel Hill will not be able to maintain its excellence as one of the world’s great research universities. We call on you to fulfill your obligation as trustees and immediately vote upon the recommendation of this university to offer Hannah-Jones a tenured position as the Knight Chair in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.
We are also concerned that your failure to act will negatively affect our students. The university’s mission statement explicitly values the diversity of our student body and our state:
Our mission is to serve as a center for research, scholarship, and creativity and to teach a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to become the next generation of leaders.
We embrace this challenge daily. Our students benefit when everyone is empowered to reach their potential and contribute to the common good. The perceived politicization of education undermines inclusion and limits our ability to fulfill this commitment to the people of North Carolina.
We endorse the Chair of the Faculty’s June 19th letter, which explains that faculty governance of the tenure process is essential to maintaining academic integrity. Academic freedom has been defined as having two principles: freedom from political or religious control, and shared governance of institutions. The faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill needs to know that the Board of Trustees agrees with these principles. Anything less than that will irreparably damage the confidence of the faculty in the ability of the Board of Trustees to safeguard the future of this university.
It is imperative that the Board of Trustees immediately confirm the Provost’s recommendation to offer Hannah-Jones a tenured position.
The Chair of our department, Prof. Barbara Ambros, has also written an individual letter to the Board of Trustees, which can be viewed here.
Posted in News & Events on June 23, 2021. Bookmark the permalink.