Texas A&M announced that the university will pay $1 million to Kathleen McElroy after her failed hiring.
Texas A&M changed McElroy’s proposed contract, ultimately settling on a one-year deal as a professor without tenure and a three-year appointment as the director of the journalism program, with an emphasis that she could be terminated at any time.
The Office of General Counsel has publicly released the results of the investigation, which found that “significant mistakes were made in this hiring process, primarily due to a failure to follow established policies and procedures that govern faculty hiring.”
In the OGC report, it relays that in early May, university officials knew there would be concerns over McElroy’s appointment because of her background in DEI.
The report states that former interim Dean Jose Bermudez told Department Head Hart Blanton, “Bottom line is the NYT connection is poor optics during this particular legislative session.”
Following Texas Scorecard’s coverage of McElroy’s appointment, “[TAMU President Kathy] Banks said that she received calls from 6-7 members of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents asking questions and raising concerns about McElroy’s hiring,” according to the report.
The regents had been briefed previously on the provisions of SB 17 relating to DEI, including the provisions requiring the Board to annually certify that the requirements of the bill have been fully implemented and confirm the System’s compliance with the bill. Regents questioned how McElroy’s advocacy for DEI could be reconciled with TAMU’s obligations under SB 17.
After McElroy’s offer letter was watered down, Banks met with the TAMU Faculty Senate and denied any knowledge of the changes to the job offer.
Her statements were reportedly found to be false, and she resigned the following day.
Due to the failed hiring, the OGC is advising that “all faculty offer letters … require the signature of the Vice President of Faculty Affairs to ensure compliance with policies and procedures and to provide an effective oversight mechanism.”
Additionally, “Interim President Welsh has directed the Office for Faculty Affairs to create a task force to provide recommendations on appropriate protections for faculty in matters of faculty hiring and academic freedom.”
Meanwhile, McElroy will receive a $1 million payout and remain at her tenured position at UT Austin.
Texas A&M is overseen by a board of regents appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott and confirmed by the Texas Senate.