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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Department head says Banks misled faculty and public, claims forged signature on McElroy offer

Hart+Blanton%2C+Ph.D.%2C+head+of+the+Department+of+Communication+and+Journalism+at+McElroys+initial+contract+signing+ceremony+outside+the+Academic+Building+on+June+13%2C+2023.
Photo by Cameron Johnson

Hart Blanton, Ph.D., head of the Department of Communication and Journalism at McElroy’s initial contract signing ceremony outside the Academic Building on June 13, 2023.

In a July 21 document emailed to select Texas A&M faculty, Hart Blanton, Ph.D., head of the Department of Communication and Journalism, stated former university President M. Katherine Banks was dishonest about Kathleen McElroy’s botched hiring during the July 19 emergency Faculty Senate meeting and claimed his signature was forged on the second written offer sent to McElroy by the university.
Blanton said contrary to Banks’ claims, the administration was unusually present during the hiring of McElroy.
“Then-President M. Katherine Banks misled the Faculty Senate,” Blanton wrote. “She represented that the decisionmaking that led to the crisis was at the department level. To the contrary, President Banks injected herself into the process atypically and early on.”
Blanton said at least one administrator attributed the scrutiny McElroy’s candidacy received from the university to her race. 
“The unusual level of scrutiny being given to the hiring of Dr. McElroy was acknowledged by one administrator to have been based, at least in part, on race,” Blanton said. “Regardless of the source of any such pressure,  I understand it to be illegal for any employer — much less a public university — to subject a job candidate to stricter scrutiny due to her race or color.
The subsequent, diminished offer made to McElroy, which Banks stated during the Faculty Senate meeting that the administration was unaware of, was made without Blanton’s approval, Blanton said. The offer included terms for a one-year contract as director and professor of practice without tenure upon arrival. Despite this, the offer still contained his signature.
“I was shocked to learn an earlier draft of a job offer letter for Dr. McElroy was altered and sent to her without my advance knowledge,” Blanton said. “The altered draft retained my electronic signature, but reduced the appointment from an earlier-discussed multiyear term to one.”
Blanton did not offer any speculation on where the one-year offer originated beyond the above statement, but said he was “pleased” by Banks’ departure.
“I was pleased to see that the President resigned,” Blanton wrote. “Texas A&M cannot have leaders misleading the faculty, public, or policymakers about how we conduct business.”
The document concluded with a call for a comprehensive investigation on the failed McElroy hire.
“I request a full and independent investigation of these incidents to be conducted,” Blanton wrote. “Lest they be repeated.”
Blanton’s legal representation, David Schleicher, said the statement was made in Blanton’s personal capacity and that Blanton does not plan on making further public comment.

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