Texas A&M University has made amends with a Black journalism professor.
In July 2023, Kathleen McElroy, a former New York Times editor, and daughter of George McElroy, a pioneering Black journalist, came forward to share that after being hired by her alma mater as the director of its journalism department, she learned there was internal pushback from current and former students based on her previous work that highlighted diversity, equity, and inclusion, according to The Texas Tribune.
She also shared that her offer went from a tenure-track position to a one-year contract, which gave her no job security and left her open to potentially being fired within the timeframe. The demotion was said to have been pushed by Texas A&M University President Katherine Banks and a school dean, according to AP News reports. But Banks later told faculty that the changes to McElroy’s contract offer had not come from her. After the demotion, McElroy declined the offer and returned to her tenured position at the University of Texas at Austin.
“I feel damaged by this entire process,” McElroy said, according to the outlet. “I’m being judged by race, maybe gender. And I don’t think other folks would face the same bars or challenges. And it seems that my being an Aggie, wanting to lead an Aggie program to what I thought would be prosperity, wasn’t enough.”
Once the news circulated, Banks put in her resignation as president and the university began an investigation.
On August 3, Texas A&M University reached a $1 million settlement with McElroy, according to AP News. Along with the payment, the university issued an apology to her, stating that “mistakes were made during the hiring process.”
In the joint statement with McElroy, the university shared that it “has learned from its mistakes and will strive to ensure similar mistakes are not repeated in the future,” per the outlet.
McElroy said, “I hope the resolution of my matter will reinforce A&M’s allegiance to excellence in higher education and its commitment to academic freedom and journalism.”