Ta-Nehisi Coates (Photo credit: Bang Media)

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has decided to take her talents to Howard University after being denied tenure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last month. After weeks of controversy, UNC’s board of trustees reversed its decision and finally offered Hannah-Jones tenure last week, but the professor didn’t like the way she had been treated and declined the position.

Instead, Hannah-Jones will be a tenured member of Howard University’s faculty and serve as the newly created Knight Chair in Race and Journalism. Journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates also is joining the faculty at Howard, his alma mater. The former national correspondent for The Atlantic will be the Sterling Brown Chair in the Department of English. Both professors’ positions are part of Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications.

“It is my pleasure to welcome to Howard two of today’s most respected and influential journalists,” Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a statement to The Associated Press. “At such a critical time for race relations in our country, it is vital that we understand the role of journalism in steering our national conversation and social progress. Not only must our newsrooms reflect the communities where they are reporting, but we need to infuse the profession with diverse talent.”

The new positions are being funded by a donation of nearly $20 million from the Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation and one anonymous donor.

“I heard a wise man once say, ‘A man who hates home will never be happy.’ And it is in the pursuit of wisdom and happiness that I return to join the esteemed faculty of Howard University,” Coates said in the statement to The AP. “This is the faculty that molded me. This is the faculty that strengthened me. Personally, I know of no higher personal honor than this.”


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