Texas A&M University president resigns after Black journalist’s hiring at campus unravels

21 July 2023

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M University announced Friday that its president has resigned after a Black journalist’s celebrated hiring at one of the nation’s largest campuses unraveled over pushback over her diversity and inclusion work.

President Katherine Banks said in a resignation letter that she would retire immediately, because “negative press has become a distraction” at the nearly 70,000-student campus in College Station.

Her exit comes as Republican lawmakers across the U.S. are targeting diversity, equity and inclusion programs on college campus. That includes Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill in June that dismantles program offices at public colleges.

The A&M System said in a statement that Banks told faculty leaders this week that she took responsibility for the “flawed hiring process” of Kathleen McElroy, a former New York Times editor who had been selected to revive the school’s journalism department. The statement said “a wave of national publicity” suggested that McElroy “was a victim of ‘anti-woke’ hysteria and outside interference in the faculty hiring process.”

Banks has told The Texas Tribune this month that pushback had surfaced over her hiring at A&M because of her work on race and diversity in newsrooms.

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