Texas A&M president departs following the unraveling of the hiring of a Black journalist on campus

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President Katherine Banks said she was retiring immediately because “negative press has become a distraction.”

Texas A&M president departs following the unraveling of the hiring of a Black journalist on campus

Texas A&M University made a public announcement on Friday regarding the resignation of its president amid the aftermath of the hiring of a Black journalist. The journalist, who had been celebrated for her appointment at one of the nation’s largest campuses, encountered opposition due to her previous efforts in promoting diversity.

President Katherine Banks cited “negative press” as the primary reason for her immediate retirement from the position, stating that it had become a significant distraction for the 70,000-student campus in College Station.

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

The turmoil at Texas A&M escalated over several weeks, culminating in the departure of President Banks after just two years in the role. The university had recently welcomed professor Kathleen McElroy with enthusiasm, especially during a June ceremony that honored her appointment and featured celebratory balloons. McElroy, a former New York Times editor, was tasked with revitalizing the journalism department and had previously overseen the journalism school at the more liberal University of Texas at Austin campus.

However, complications arose soon after her hiring as news spread of pushback related to her past work aimed at enhancing diversity and inclusion in newsrooms.

McElroy’s exit coincided with a broader context of Republican lawmakers across the United States targeting diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses. Texas, in particular, saw the signing of a bill by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in June, which resulted in the dismantling of program offices at public colleges.

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