EXCLUSIVE – The University of North Carolina Wilmington paid 1619 Project writer Nikole Hannah-Jones $16,670 to speak at a 55-minute university event.
Nikole Hannah-Jones spoke at a university-sponsored event titled “Nikole Hannah-Jones in Conversation” on November 2 at 7 p.m.
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According to a copy of the contract between Nikole Hannah-Jones and the University of North Carolina Wilmington obtained by Fox News, the university is also responsible for her airfare, transportation, meals, and lodging for up to two nights.
The event consisted of a 40-minute speech from Hannah-Jones and a 15-minute Q&A period. The contract lists a 15-minute meet and greet with students, but is crossed out in the signed version of the contract.
UNC Wilmington hosted Hannah-Jones as part of its annual Writers Week event, in which community members “join in discussions of literary craft and current issues of the profession.”
A spokesperson for the University of North Carolina Wilmington told Fox News that the event was paid through a “donor-supported fund managed by the department.”
Jenna Robinson, the president of The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, told Fox News that while Hannah-Jones should not be cancelled for her viewpoint, the university could have spent the money on better causes.
“I’m glad it didn’t come out of student fees, which is often where speaker fees come out of. I’m really glad it wasn’t student fees,” Robinson said. “It was not the best use of funds. There are other writers available to talk about the same topic at a much lower cost. And I think the university would have been better served going to some other writer if they really wanted to talk on this topic.”
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Robinson also noted that the speaking fee could have been used to fund scholarships.
“That could pay for two years’ worth of tuition and fees for a student to study in that department or a partial scholarship for the entire four years in school. In-state tuition and fees at UNCW are less than $8,000 a year. And so that money could have gone a long way towards one student’s education,” Robinson said.
Hannah-Jones was previously considered for a tenured position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but after the board of trustees offered her the position in June, she turned it down and accepted a tenured position at Howard University.
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As previously reported by Fox News, Chuck Duckett, a member of the board of trustees, sent an email to Provost Bob Boluin asking him to “postpone-remove” a request for the board to review Hannah-Jones’ tenure case during a meeting in January.
“Can we remove this for now and take it up at [the board of trustees] meeting in March?” Duckett wrote. “Maybe another accommodation makes more sense for the university and the taxpayer?”