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Presence of DEI Work Ends Opportunity for Well-Qualified Candidate In Texas

Kathleen McElroy is an alum of Texas A&M with over 40 years of experience in journalism. She serves as the University of Texas School of Journalism's director. After a year-long search, Texas A&M offered McElroy the director position to lead their program under a five-year contract. She had initially wanted tenure but received advice from her would-be supervisor to avoid the Board of Regents. The school celebrated her upcoming role with a signing ceremony and balloons.

However, Texas A&M notified McElroy of some quick pushback to her appointment. One conservative alumni group publicly shared it filed a complaint about her appointment. The institution changed its offer contract to one year at will. McElroy said an administrator told her, "You're a Black woman who was at The New York Times." McElroy says her research has focused on race and media, but she also looks at rural journalism and obituaries. Beyond her extensive journalism experience, McElroy had helped start a fund to support A&M's campus newspaper. Following the change to her offer, McElroy decided to remain with the University of Texas.

Texas A&M issued a public statement indicating that it believed a nontenured position was the best choice for McElroy. It said it offered her a one-year professorship plus a three-year administrative role. The university also said it regretted any misunderstanding. The Texas legislature recently banned diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices in higher education. DEI efforts generally seek to increase the representation of underrepresented individuals in the workforce and educational institutions.