The president of Texas A&M University, Katherine Banks, has resigned following controversy surrounding the hiring of a Black journalist, Kathleen McElroy.
McElroy’s hiring was met with pushback due to her past work promoting diversity and inclusion in newsrooms. Diversity and Inclusion (DEI) has come under scrutiny nationwide. Texas, along with Florida has recently banned DEI offices at public universities.
One of the organizations with the strongest pushback to the hiring was The Rudder Association, a group that pledges to “defend” Texas Aggie culture.
“Upon learning of Dr. McElroy’s selection, TRA did express concerns to the administration, as did many others. TRA believes that a department head should embrace the egalitarian and merit-based traditions that characterize Texas A&M’s values rather than the divisive ideology of identity politics,” said the organization on its website. “TRA also questioned the wisdom of hiring a leader who believes in filtering out “illegitimate” views.”
McElroy, who is an alumn of the university, ended up declining the role claiming the original offer of a tenure track was reduced to a one-year job.
Banks took responsibility for the flawed hiring process and tendered her resignation.
The Texas NAACP criticized the university for its response to the controversy.
“Professor Kathleen McElroy has been a tremendous credit to our State and nation. Her handling of news has always been fair and balanced without regard to whether the right or the left would be shown to be the transgressor,” said Texas NAACP President Gary Bledsoe in a joint statement. “Sadly, it appears her race and speech have come to the forefront to deny her an opportunity to take Texas A&M journalism to a new and higher level. This is the kind of censorship or anti-intellectual attitude that we typically find in countries run by autocracies or regressive regimes.”