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Texas A&M reaches $1 million settlement with journalism professor over hiring controversy

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By Joe Sutton and Andy Rose, CNN

(CNN) — Texas A&M University reached a $1 million settlement with a Black journalism professor who said her tenured position offer fell apart after backlash to her work on diversity and equity efforts, the university announced Thursday.

The university’s leadership apologized to Kathleen McElroy for “the way her employment application was handled” in June when the terms of her proposed contract changed dramatically.

“Texas A&M acknowledges that mistakes were made during the hiring process relating to Dr. McElroy. The leadership of Texas A&M apologizes to Dr. McElroy for the way her employment application was handled, has learned from its mistakes and will strive to ensure similar mistakes are not repeated in the future,” the school said in a joint statement with McElroy.

McElroy will continue as a tenured professor at the University of Texas at Austin, the statement added.

“Texas A&M University remains in my heart despite the events of the past month. I will never forget that Aggies – students, faculty members, former students and staff – voiced support for me from many sectors,” McElroy said in the joint statement. “I hope the resolution of my matter will reinforce A&M’s allegiance to excellence in higher education and its commitment to academic freedom and journalism.”

The ordeal saw then-university president M. Katherine Banks resign and prompted an internal review of the matter.

Last month, McElroy told the Texas Tribune her offer of a tenured position quickly disappeared after she was told there was a backlash to her hiring because of her work on diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

“I’m being judged by race, maybe gender,” McElroy said in an interview with the Tribune.

Next year, a state law banning diversity, equity and inclusion offices in public universities, including Texas A&M, will go into effect.

McElroy had agreed to a new offer of a five-year, nontenured position, and then the school changed it to a one-year contract, which could be rescinded at any time, she told the Texas Tribune last month.

In announcing McElroy’s hiring in June, the university said in a news release: “A priority for McElroy is to build a curriculum that incorporates innovative ways to deliver news to underserved audiences across Texas and beyond.”

McElroy, who has been teaching University of Texas at Austin, has an expansive reporting career that includes 20 years at the New York Times.

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