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Resignation of Texas A&M University President Follows Unraveling of Black Journalist’s Hiring on Campus

by Jessica
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Texas A&M University President Resigns Amid Fallout from Black Journalist’s Hiring

The president of Texas A&M University, Katherine Banks, announced her resignation on Friday, following controversies surrounding the hiring of a celebrated Black journalist at the campus.

Professor Kathleen McElroy’s appointment, which was initially welcomed with fanfare to revitalize the journalism department, quickly encountered pushback due to her past work advocating for diversity and inclusion in newsrooms.

President Banks cited negative press as a distracting factor for her immediate retirement from the nearly 70,000-student campus in College Station.

The situation escalated into weeks of turmoil, ultimately leading to Banks’ departure after serving as president for two years.

As part of the fallout, the American Association of University Professors President, Irene Mulvey, criticized Texas A&M’s handling of McElroy’s hiring, highlighting the ongoing nationwide culture war against diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in higher education.

The controversy has raised concerns about academic freedom, and McElroy expressed feeling judged based on race and gender during the hiring process.

Her work in the past focused on examining the relationship between news media and race, aiming to challenge traditional perspectives and promote more diverse narratives.

Banks took responsibility for the “flawed hiring process,” and the A&M System acknowledged that the hiring faced “unusual scrutiny” due to allegations of “anti-woke” hysteria and outside interference.

McElroy revealed that the initial tenure-track position offer was reduced to a one-year job before she decided to stay at the University of Texas as a journalism professor.

The resignation of President Banks and the ongoing turmoil at Texas A&M comes amidst a broader context where Republican lawmakers in various states, including Texas, are targeting diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at public colleges.

Banks’ departure has been described as a “wakeup call” by the Texas NAACP, and the university’s reputation has been affected. Interim dean José Luis Bermúdez of the Texas A&M College of Arts and Sciences also announced his departure and a faculty panel has been set up to investigate the matter.

Additionally, Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne also resigned amid an independent review that cleared him of research misconduct but identified “serious flaws” in five scientific papers authored by him.

The situation at Texas A&M highlights the ongoing challenges in promoting diversity and inclusion on college campuses and the importance of protecting academic freedom in teaching and research.

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