Texas A&M University President M. Katherine Banks resigned from the school following a move by the faculty senate to investigate the mishandling of the hire of journalist Kathleen McElroy.
“The recent challenges regarding Dr. McElroy have made it clear to me that I must retire immediately,” Banks wrote in her resignation letter submitted late Thursday. “The negative press is a distraction from the wonderful work being done here.”
McElroy was hired in June to revive A&M’s journalism program. She accepted the position in a public event in an official signing ceremony. McElroy, a Black woman from Houston, previously held multiple journalist roles at the New York Times before becoming a tenured professor of journalism at the University of Texas in Austin.
But McElroy’s job offer was later changed from a tenure-track position to a one-year contract after the university received criticism on McElroy’s work related to diversity and equity issues, according to university officials.
The Texas Tribune reported recently that officials within the Texas A&M university system expressed issues with her previous employment at the Times and her support for diversity in newsrooms.
The new contract was at-will, noting she could be terminated at any time. McElroy rejected the offer.
The veteran journalist told the Texas Tribune, which first reported on the hiring troubles, in early July that her offer was caught up in the “DEI hysteria,” referring to efforts to politicize diversity, equity and inclusion programs that led to the passage of a bill to eliminate such efforts from public colleges in Texas.
McElroy graduated from Texas A&M in 1981. Her father, George McElroy, was a pioneer Black reporter in Houston.
Texas A&M officials declined a request for comment. The university announced that Mark A. Welsh III, the dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service, is now acting president.
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