Texas A&M University announced Friday that its president, M. Katherine Banks, « will immediately retire » amid controversy over its mishandling of hiring a black reporter.
According to a official university statement On Friday, Banks filed her letter late Thursday announcing she would withdraw immediately, saying « the negative press has become a distraction. »
The university said Mark A. Welsh III, the university’s dean of government and public service school, will serve as interim president until a national search for a successor is conducted.
Banks’ announcement comes days after the school’s faculty senate passed a resolution to launch a committee of inquiry to investigate how the hiring of Kathleen McElroyprofessor and former University of Texas New York Times journalist, was mistreated.
« Recent challenges regarding Dr. McElroy have made it clear to me that I must withdraw immediately, » Banks said in his announcement.
The University announced last month hired Texas A&M graduate McElroy to lead its journalism program. However, the hiring has drawn backlash from conservatives across Texas, who have criticized McElroy’s earlier statements about diversity, equity and inclusion, according to The Texas Tribune, who first reported history.
Once McElroy’s offer was extended, it quickly fell apart when job details changed, as the position was originally suitable for the role but changed to a one-year practice professor, according to the university.
Eventually McElroy turned down the offer for a one-year deal, the grandstand reported.
During a Texas A&M faculty senate meeting on Wednesday, Banks denied he was aware of the changes in McElroy’s job posting. However, it took responsibility for the « flawed hiring process » following the backlash, which suggested McElroy was a victim of « anti-wake-up hysteria » and « outside interference » when it came to the hiring process, the university said.
McElroy did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment. She said to the grandstand that she felt « damaged by the whole process » and that she believed she was being judged on the basis of race and possibly gender.
« And I don’t think other people would go through the same difficulties or challenges, » McElroy said.
The Rudder Association, an organization of current and former students, faculty and staff of Texas A&M dedicated to preserving campus values, said in a declaration expressed concerns to campus administration. However, the group said it « believes a department head should embrace the egalitarian and merit-based traditions that characterize Texas A&M values rather than the divisive ideology of identity politics. »
« We remain confident that Texas A&M will continue to lead in this important arena, as it has in many others throughout its history, » said Matt Poling, president of The Rudder Association.