Texas A&M president resigns amid fallout over woke journo prof hiring debacle

Texas A&M's president abruptly retired following controversy over the school's attempt to hire a progressive NYT editor to direct its journalism program.

Professor Kathleen McElroy said in a 2021 interview that journalists 'can’t just give people a set of facts anymore' and should disregard 'illegitimate' perspectives.

Texas A&M University President M. Katherine Banks has abruptly retired, following the university’s failed attempt at installing a left-wing professor to direct its journalism program.  

Kathleen McElroy, a former New York Times editor who studied diversity and inclusion within newsrooms, returned to her tenured position at the University of Texas at Austin in June, after an initial five-year contract offer at Texas A&M University (TAMU) was reduced twice, eventually taking the form of a one-year position for which she could be fired at any time. 

”The recent challenges regarding Dr. McElroy have made it clear to me that I must retire immediately,” Banks wrote in her resignation letter Friday. “The negative press is a distraction from the wonderful work being done here.” 

During a July 19 Faculty Senate meeting, Banks said she was unaware of changes made to McElroy’s job offer and blamed them on ”anti-woke” outrage.   

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However, on July 21, Hart Blanton, TAMU’s Head of the Communication and Journalism Department, insisted that Banks was involved “early on” and interfered in decision-making. 

“Then-President M. Katherine Banks misled the Faculty Senate when she represented that the decisionmaking [sic] that led to the crisis was at the department level,” Blanton, who initiated McElroy’s recruitment last year, wrote in a statement. “To the contrary, President Banks injected herself into the process atypically and early on.”

He credited the “unusual level of scrutiny” toward McElroy to “have been based, at least in part, on race,” and added that he was “pleased” by Banks’s departure from TAMU.  

While Blanton suggested that race was a factor in the backlash against McElroy being hired, Chairman of TAMU College Republicans Jake Turner said such complaints were ideologically motivated. 

“I think the backlash was primarily driven by conservatives who feel as though the whole university system is already promulgating DEI and CRT [Critical Race Theory] narratives,” Turner said in an email to Campus Reform

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“Judging by her articles, Dr. McElroy seems like a very kind person, but she has views about objectivity and meritocracy that I don’t agree with,” he added.

In a 2021 conversation with NPR about the role of journalists, McElroy described journalism as being fundamentally “wrong” about history. 

“We can’t just give people a set of facts anymore,” McElroy said. “I think we know that and we have to tell our students that. This is not about getting two sides of a story or three sides of a story, if one side is illegitimate.” 

“I think now you cannot cover education, you cannot cover criminal justice, you can’t cover all of these institutions without realizing how these institutions were built,” McElroy continued. 

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TAMU alumni groups such as The Rudder Association (TRA) questioned McElroy’s appointment and criticized her stance on “illegitimate” views in a July 14 press release

“Our reservations about Dr. McElroy were the degree to which she was steeped in race-essential journalism and her statements that it’s the journalist’s job to discern between what are legitimate and illegitimate viewpoints,” TRA President Matt Poling told Campus Reform in a phone call. 

“We would have expressed the exact same concerns in the exact same way had the candidate been a white male or anyone else,” Poling added. 

Campus Reform reached out to all parties mentioned for comment and will update this story accordingly. 

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