Texas A&M President Katherine Banks has announced her immediate resignation following public outcry against A&M’s attempted hiring of a DEI proponent as the university’s new journalism director.
Texas Scorecard previously reported that Kathleen McElroy was hired as A&M’s new journalism director and was a proponent of DEI measures at UT Austin. McElroy expressed to NPR that journalists “can’t just give people a set of facts anymore. I think we know that and we have to tell our students that.”
Following Texas Scorecard’s coverage, Texas A&M began changing 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 emphasis that she could be terminated at any time.
McElroy did not accept the deal and spoke to the Texas Tribune about her decision to stay at UT Austin, where she is tenured.
In the article, A&M’s interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, José Luis Bermúdez, is mentioned speaking to McElroy over the phone warning he would not be able to “protect her” from being fired.
Bermúdez has now resigned from his interim dean position.
Now, Banks has decided to resign, saying, “The recent challenges regarding Dr. [Kathleen] McElroy have made it clear to me that I must retire immediately. The negative press is a distraction from the wonderful work being done here.”
The university’s faculty senate recently voted to create a fact-finding committee to investigate McElroy’s “mishandled” hiring process. In the meeting, Banks admitted she did not approve changes to an offer letter proposed to McElroy and took responsibility for the hiring process.
In Feburary, a Claremont Institute investigation into A&M’s DEI policies detailed various actions approved under Banks’ tenure.
Several policies were found using ideological tests for the administrative fellows program, teaching that America is systemically racist, and promoting lower tenure standards for “diversity” candidates.
The report also found that the percentage of black and Hispanic students that feel they belong at A&M has lowered significantly from 2017 to 2020, as diversity, equity, and inclusion measures increased.
Scott Yenor, the author of the report, told Texas Scorecard that Banks handled DEI controversies poorly, particularly after his investigation was released, saying her team “scrubbed the website” containing DEI measures and claimed DEI wasn’t happening at A&M.
“Here is hoping that the Texas political establishment recognizes that DEI is a clear and present danger to the academic enterprise and equal justice under the law in our republic,” Yenor said.
Mark Welsh has been announced as the immediate acting president in the interim.
Texas A&M is overseen by a board of regents appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott and confirmed by the Texas Senate.