Failed hiring practices cost university president job
Texas A&M University president M. Katherine Banks resigned last week amid fraught negotiations process of Black journalist Dr. Kathleen McElroy.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
Texas A&M University president M. Katherine Banks resigned Thursday amid the hiring controversy of Dr. Kathleen McElroy, a University of Texas professor, former New York Times journalist, and graduate of Texas A&M University, class of 1981. With over 40 years of experience in journalism, Dr. McElroy, was hired to direct Texas A&M University’s new journalism program but soon turned down a fraught negotiations process first reported by The Texas Tribune.
“The decision comes after the university’s faculty senate passed a resolution Wednesday to create a fact-finding committee into the mishandling of the hiring of McElroy,” ABC13 reports. “During that meeting, Banks told faculty members that she did not approve changes to an offer letter that led to a prospective journalism professor to walk away from negotiations amid conservative backlash to her hiring.”
“The recent challenges regarding Dr. McElroy have made it clear to me that I must retire immediately,” Banks said in a letter to the Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System. “The negative press is a distraction from the wonderful work being done here.”
In an interview with The Texas Tribune, McElroy said she turned down the position after A&M continued to alter the terms of her job —the third offer was a one-year, at-will contract.
“A&M employees told her an increasingly vocal network of constituents within the system were expressing issues with her experience at the Times and with her work on race and diversity in newsrooms,” McElroy told The Texas Tribune, adding she had been “damaged by this entire process” and that she believed was “being judged by race, maybe gender. And I don’t think other folks would face the same bars or challenges.”
In June, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill banning diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) offices at public universities, becoming the second state in the country, after Florida, to implement such a ban. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court banned affirmative action in American higher education, with many criticizing the decision as a “setback.”
CNN reports that Texas A&M officials will launch an investigation into the failed hire of Dr. McElroy.