We have previously discussed Katherine Banks, the former president of Texas A&M, who resigned in disgrace after she withdrew an offer to a scholar to head the university’s new journalism program because some regents discovered that the proposed hire was Black and had once worked at the New York Times, and then lied her ass off about it at public meetings. The silver lining to this grim story is that Kathleen McElroy will get a million bucks to stay in Austin rather than moving to College Station:
Multiple Texas A&M University System regents voiced concerns about the perceived left-leaning credentials of Kathleen O. McElroy, a Black journalism professor, hired to launch a new journalism program at their flagship school, according to an internal report released Thursday.
Top system leaders questioned the decision after a conservative website blasted the hiring of McElroy, a tenured professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a former New York Times editor. As Texas A&M University officials fielded pushback from regents and external concerns from conservative groups, McElroy’s offer was watered down after A&M held a public signing ceremony announcing her hire. She ultimately rescinded her acceptance.
A review of the failed hiring also revealed that former university President M. Katherine Banks was heavily involved in discussions about making changes to McElroy’s offer, contradicting Banks’ earlier claims that she was unaware that the school had weakened its proposed terms of employment. Banks abruptly retired last month amid turmoil spurred by the botched hiring.
The report summarizing the internal inquiry, which was conducted by the system’s general counsel, included hundreds of pages of text messages and emails. It provides new insight into the unusual involvement of system-level regents, who are gubernatorial appointees, in a university-level hire. And it reveals that university leadership tried to delay the announcement of McElroy’s hiring until after the Republican-controlled Legislature ended this year’s regular lawmaking session and approved the system’s budget.
The A&M system’s general counsel reported it could not find evidence that race and gender were a factor in the fumbled attempt to recruit McElroy. But the university also publicly acknowledged Thursday that it would pay a $1 million settlement to McElroy, who is remaining in her tenured role at UT-Austin.
This is the future for higher education most Republicans want, only without the cash settlements.