This is so bad it is almost a work of art

Note: I drafted the post below (material between the *** about a week ago, but decided not to publish it because it seemed like punching down the hill to a staffer who was just writing what s/he had been directed to write. Down below is my addendum today.


I try and grant the benefit of the doubt, but lorda mercy is this a bad take on how a research university should be run, from a writer at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

Given Hannah-Jones’s questionable credentials, how did she get hired at North Carolina’s flagship research university? The most likely explanation is that unaccountable faculty and administrators made the executive decision to hire her without any involvement by the university’s Board of Trustees.

Nicole Hannah-Jones, the editor and creator of the New York Times 1619 project, and has received a Pulitzer Prize and Peabody award, receiving a Macarthur Genius grant and is an experienced journalist. The folks at the Martin Center don’t like some of what she says so they attack here as unqualified? Where again are the snowflakes supposed to be coming from?


Update below on May 20, 2021 after this took place.

I am a lifelong North Carolinian, and a three time graduate from Carolina, a place that I love. This is an example of the Board of Trustees exercising a right that they have, but in doing so, they have harmed the University and threatened academic freedom. The orchestrated charge that began with posts like the above that she is an unqualified person for such a post is plainly absurd. She received a Pulitzer Prize, a Peabody award and a Macarthur Genius grant among other accolades and she is a long standing journalist. Conservatives don’t like some of what she has to say—snowflakes indeed, I guess. Her case went through the normal university processes that are governed by the Faculty at UNC, and the role of Trustees at UNC, like Duke and other Universities is pro forma and reserved for extreme situations. That they think this is one of those cases shows they either do not understand the University, or do and wish to have a chilling effect on academic freedom and the exchange of ideas in support of their ideology. The orchestrated nature of the criticism by political conservatives who control Board of Governors and Trustees at UNC makes clear why she likely needs tenure to do her work. It is no accident that they felt free to do this to a Black woman. I am disgusted and embarrassed by the actions of the BOG and Trustees at UNC.

About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute), and Chair of the Academic Council at Duke University . I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy. My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

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