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The Battalion

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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Page torn from A&M journalism: A timeline of events

Photo by Cameron Johnson
Dr. McElroy
<p>Correction: The Eagle was first to break the news about McElroy returning to The University of Texas. </p>
Correction: The Eagle was first to break the news about McElroy returning to The University of Texas. Graphic by Ishika Samant.

Texas A&M alumna, former New York Times editor and former director of the University of Texas’ School of Journalism Kathleen McElroy signed a contract to become the director of A&M’s new journalism program at a ceremony on June 13.

The contract granted McElroy a position as a professor in the Communication and Journalism department, appointed her as director of the journalism program and offered her tenure pending approval by the Board of Regents.

However, after McElroy said A&M offered her a different contract, McElroy told The Eagle “I feel now kind of like a pawn in all of this,” and that she would be returning to her position at UT. During a July 19 faculty senate meeting, President M. Katherine Banks said her office only signed off on the first offer.

On June 15, the right-wing publication Texas Scorecard published an article titled “Aggies Hire NY Times ‘Diversity’ Advocate To Head Journalism Program.” The article refers to McElroy as a “diversity, equity, and inclusion proponent.”

Following the article’s publication, A&M provided a statement to the Texas Scorecard. In the statement provided, A&M said McElroy was “a superb professor, veteran journalist and proven leader, as well as an Aggie” and that she was “position[ed] uniquely to lead the new program.”

After signing the agreement McElroy said she was informed that she may be unable to secure tenure due to the approval process by the Board of Regents. According to The New York Times, the regents had read the Texas Scorecard article.

McElroy said she verbally agreed to a five-year contract with no tenure and a meeting with the Board of Regents in August.

“I agreed … I’ll change to a multi-year contract, and then they wanted me to go before the Board of Regents, and I said okay,” McElroy said. “I’d have to explain who I am, but after that one slide about who I am, I’m not just a ‘diversity proponent’ or ‘advocate,’ that I could talk about all the great things we could do at A&M journalism.”

McElroy said she received a call from the interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences José Luis Bermúdez on July 7, warning of people who could force leadership to fire her. McElroy said she was advised by Bermúdez to stay at her position at UT.

McElroy said Bermúdez told her that her hiring “stirred up a hornet’s nest” and that “even if he hired me, these people could make him fire me … that the president and the chancellor, no one can stop that from happening,” according to The Texas Tribune.

The Board of Regents met the day before and discussed McElroy’s hiring, according to The Texas Tribune. The agenda lists a discussion of personnel matters in an executive session, which is closed to the public.

McElroy said she received an updated offer on July 9, but it was not the offer she verbally agreed to. McElroy said she was offered a one-year appointment as director and could be terminated “at will” for any reason.

McElroy told The Tribune she would be returning to UT instead of agreeing to the new offer in an article published on July 11. However, McElroy would continue negotiations with A&M’s general counsel during a July 14 meeting.

“Dr. McElroy is an Aggie,” McElroy’s lawyer John Lopez said, according to The Eagle. “She loves and admires and respects the university and having the position of director of the journalism program is a dream job for her. She will do everything possible to make sure that there is secure understanding of that by the university and everybody else concerned.”

In a July 17 article, The Eagle confirmed that Lopez is no longer representing McElroy.

In an email addressed to students and faculty, Bermúdez announced on July 17 he will be stepping down from his role as interim dean after July 31.

“I feel in the light of controversy surrounding recent communications with Dr. Kathleen McElroy that this is the best thing that I can do to preserve the great things that we have achieved over the last year in creating the College of Arts and Sciences at [A&M],” Bermúdez wrote. “My continuation in this role would be a needless distraction as you all continue the work that we have begun.”

In a faculty senate meeting on July 19, President Banks said the president’s office had no documentation of the five-year contract McElroy said she verbally agreed to. Banks also said she did not know what gave McElroy the impression the original offer had been revoked.

“I was not in any of these conversations.” Banks said. “Certainly, if I had been asked by her, or others … we assumed that offer was valid and that she would show up Aug. 1.”
Editor’s note: Valerie Muñoz, the author of “Aggies Hire NY Times ‘Diversity’ Advocate To Head Journalism Program,” is a former opinion writer for The Battalion.

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About the Contributors
Ana Renfroe
Ana Renfroe, Head News Editor
Ana Renfroe, Class of 2025, is a journalism junior with a minor in professional writing from Bryan, Texas. Ana has served as The Battalion's head news editor from May 2023 to May 2024. Previously, she was the assistant news editor for the spring 2023 semester. Ana has covered breaking news, politics, and more. She typically covered the Texas A&M System and university administration, Texas and Bryan-College Station politics, student government and more. Ana previously hosted and produced episodes of The Batt Signal, The Battalion's news podcast. Additionally, she was a copyeditor and feature writer for Maroon Life magazine, and helped contribute to the Aggieland Yearbook.
Caleb Elizondo
Caleb Elizondo, Managing Editor
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