College to Pay Professor $1M Over Handling of Her Hiring

Regents 'raised concerns' about Kathleen McElroy's diversity work
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 22, 2023 1:25 PM CDT
Updated Aug 3, 2023 5:40 PM CDT
Texas A&M President Quits in Flap Over Hire's Diversity Work
Texas A&M President Katherine Banks speaks at an event in 2019.   (James Durbin/Reporter-Telegram via AP)
UPDATE Aug 3, 2023 5:40 PM CDT

A journalism professor has received an apology from Texas A&M for its handling of her hiring and will collect a $1 million settlement. "Mistakes were made during the hiring process," the school said Thursday about a flap that led the university president to resign. Investigation documents released Thursday showed that at least six board of regents members began "raising concerns" about the hiring of Kathleen McElroy, who is Black, after a right-wing website detailed her past work on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues, the AP reports. The school then downgraded the job offer. McElroy said she considers the matter resolved now, adding that Texas A&M "has learned from its mistakes and will strive to ensure similar mistakes are not repeated in the future."

Jul 22, 2023 1:25 PM CDT

Texas A&M University on Friday announced the resignation of its president after a Black journalist said her celebrated hiring at one of the nation's largest campuses quickly unraveled due to pushback over her past work promoting diversity. President Katherine Banks said in a resignation letter that she was retiring immediately because "negative press has become a distraction" at the nearly 70,000-student campus in College Station. Her departure after two years as president followed weeks of turmoil at the school, which only last month had welcomed professor Kathleen McElroy with great fanfare to revive the school's journalism department, the AP reports.

McElroy, who had overseen the journalism school at the University of Texas at Austin campus, said she learned soon after her hiring—which included a June ceremony with balloons—of pushback emerging because of her past work to improve diversity and inclusion in newsrooms. Republican lawmakers across the nation are targeting diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses. That includes Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill in June that dismantles program offices at public colleges. The A&M System said in a statement that Banks told faculty leaders that she took responsibility for the "flawed hiring process," per the AP. The statement said McElroy appeared to be "a victim of 'anti-woke' hysteria and outside interference in the faculty hiring process."

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McElroy previously told the Texas Tribune that the initial offer of a tenure-track position was reduced to a five-year post, then again to a one-year job from which she could be fired at any time. The 1981 Texas A&M graduate rejected that offer and chose to stay at the University of Texas as a journalism professor. Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP, called said Texas A&M's reputation had been damaged. "Let's face it, education of students is no longer a primary consideration," Bledsoe said. "That lofty goal has been replaced by a political, anti-Black, anti-brown and anti-education agenda." According to the university, 53% of its faculty members are white and 3% are Black. Asians constitute 8% of faculty, and Hispanics or Latinos 5%.

(More Texas A&M stories.)

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