Sherry Sylvester


Texas Professors Threaten to Leave

Nearly 70% of Texas university professors are not recommending Texas to their colleagues in other states, and more than a quarter are considering leaving next year, according to a new poll by the American Association of University Professors. Texas professors told surveyors their dissatisfaction stems from “political interference and widespread dissatisfaction with the state of higher education in Texas.”

(We’ll skip over the hysterical irony of state employees paid with taxpayer dollars being annoyed by the “political interference” in their work.)

Upon releasing the poll, the professors said, “these findings serve as a wake-up call for policymakers, administrators, employers, and other concerned citizens, emphasizing the urgent need to address the concerns raised by faculty members. Failure to do so may result in a significant exodus of faculty, challenges attracting academic talent, and an overall decline in the quality of higher education.”

Wake up call? They are kidding right? Do they think that policy makers, employers and other concerned citizens of Texas give a hoot that a bunch of professors are angry about tightening up tenure rules and ending so-called “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) programs? Senate Bill 17 passed in May; it ensures that going forward, no program or policy will be allowed on any Texas university campus that “promotes differential treatment or provides special benefits to individuals on the basis of race, color or ethnicity.”

DEI is a woke policy based on the premise that all American institutions, including our colleges and universities, reflect a white supremacist culture. Dozens of Texas university professors who testified against the anti-DEI bill believe that to see America any other way is also racist. No other viewpoint is tolerated.

These professors believe it is their job to divide students by race, ethnicity and gender and then teach young minority Texans to see racism everywhere. They want them to understand that they are all hopelessly oppressed. They also teach Anglo Texans that their race gives them privilege, regardless of their circumstances and that they are racist, whether they know it or not.

If that sounds nuts, it’s worth noting that Texas professors may not be among Texas’ best and brightest. According to the AAUP poll, almost a third of them, 28.7%, said they hoped to leave Texas. The No. 1 place they want to move is California.

At least they’ll be driving against the traffic. USA Today reported in August that Census Bureau data shows in 2021, 111,000 people left California for Texas—300 people a day. That’s an increase of 36% compared to 2016. Folks moving to Texas had a long list of reasons—taxes, cost of living, red tape, crime and infrastructure. It will likely shock the Texas professors to know that more than a few former Californians also mentioned freedom of speech and tolerance for different opinions in Texas as a reason for their move.

Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart and Samuel L. Jackson, all said they would leave the country in 2016 if Trump was elected. They didn’t. These Texas professors aren’t going anywhere, either. The market for academics is glutted and then some. Academic insiders estimate that while it varies from field to field, there are routinely as many as 50 applications for every faculty opening. In addition, young faculty members in Texas complain that because of tenure, professors never retire and they are unable to advance. If these professors pack up their U-Hauls and head west, their jobs will be filled by tomorrow morning.

Dozens of whiny professors testified in opposition to the anti-DEI and tenure reform bills last spring, predicting that if they passed, Texas would be imperiled because a few left-wing academics wouldn’t want to live here anymore.

Not one of them made a case that DEI or tenure had actually improved student performance or graduation outcomes for minority students—or any student—on any college campus in Texas. DEI has been in place for at least a decade on most Texas campuses and the impact has been zilch, so perhaps a “significant exodus in college faculty” is just what we need.

Don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out.


9th & Congress | Episode 6: The Fight Against DEI in Medical Schools with Dr. Stanley Goldfarb

TPPF’s Sherry Sylvester sits down with Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, Do No Harm founder and author of “Take Two Aspirin and Call Me By My Pronouns – Why Turning Doctors into Social Justice Warriors is destroying American Medicine” to discuss the fight to stop the radically divisive and discriminatory political ideologies that are eliminating, among other things, testing and training standards in medical institutions in the name of social justice.

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A Better Approach to Diversity Training

Writing in the New York Times last month, cultural iconoclast Chris Rufo pointed out that the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have failed: “Even on its own terms, does D.E.I. actually work? And the answer, according to the best available evidence, appears to be no.”

Citing research into 30 years of DEI training data, Rufo noted that “mandatory diversity training programs had practically no effect on employee attitudes — and sometimes activated bias and feelings of racial hostility.”

DEI programs have failed miserably over the years, even in their most basic functions. As my colleague Sherry Sylvester has reported, after a decade of DEI at the University of Michigan, the largest university in the state, Michigan still has a student population that is less than 4% black even though African Americans make up 14% of the population.

These programs and consultants create conflict and distractions while adding nothing to the bottom line. In fact, many of the practices distract from profitability and the mission of organizations.

There’s a better way. My new book, “The Adversity of Diversity,” shows how a different kind of training is the way to move beyond divisiveness and toward healing.

I and my co-author, Mike Towle, have studied the complex landscape of DEI initiatives, made even more complicated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down affirmative action. We demonstrate that in light of the ruling, DEI programs and policies have an expiration date.

Why? Because racial and ethnic preference policies and programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and our nation’s civil rights laws. Therefore, they are vulnerable to successful lawsuits from Whites and Asians.

Our book points to Texas and Florida as states that should be emulated for their wise decisions to end DEI programs in higher education.

Leaders and CEO must set the tone and lead by example.

The Adversity of Diversity” is available now.


9th & Congress | Episode 5: The Importance of Preserving Texas History with J.P. Bryan

TPPF’s Sherry Sylvester sits down with famed historian J.P. Bryan of the Texas State Historical Association to discuss the importance of preserving our great state’s history, free from distortion and historically inaccurate bias.

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9th & Congress | Episode 4: Just how bad is the Texas media? Feat. Brian Phillips and Sam Pohl

TPPF’s Sherry Sylvester sits down with Texas Public Policy Foundation colleagues Brian Phillips and Sam Pohl to discuss the dozens of news stories where the Texas media creates their own narrative while ignoring the views of the conservative majority of Texans, pushing out daily news reports portraying our state as a bunch of backward, dull-minded, racist, sexist, whatever-ists — while never explaining why hundreds of people move here every day.

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The Smoking Gun in Texas A&M Journalism Flap

Aggie Land has launched a major investigation to determine what really happened with Dr. Kathleen McElroy, the tenured journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin who was recruited to revive the J School at A&M.

An official A&M spokesperson assures us that no stone will be left unturned in the quest to determine who actually hired McElroy, who changed the original offer from a tenure-track position to a year-by-year contract, who told her there was “outside interference” and who finally pulled the plug. A&M’s president, an interim dean and an executive associate dean in the School of Architecture all have resigned so far in the wake of the debacle.

Investigators could save a lot of time if they will take a look at the smoking gun in this mess — McElroy’s on-the-record statement to NPR regarding her philosophy of journalism:

“We can’t just give people a set of facts anymore. I think we know that and we have to tell our students that. This is not about getting two sides of a story or three sides of a story, if one side is illegitimate,” McElroy said. “I think now you cannot cover education, you cannot cover criminal justice, you can’t cover all of these institutions without recognizing how all these institutions were built.”

 The investigation in College Station shouldn’t take long. We can assume that the first person at A&M who read McElroy’s “smoking gun” statement would take steps to ensure that the hiring did not go forward. Even Aggies wouldn’t hire someone to teach journalism who doesn’t believe in telling both sides of the story.

McElroy is not an anomaly. Most of the Texas and national news reports regarding the McElroy incident failed to report her “smoking gun” statement. For example, Channel 2 in Houston reported that Hart Blanton, head of communications and journalism at A&M,  “acknowledged” that her treatment was based, at least part, on race.

A real journalist would report that Blanton alleged it was based on race. Blanton has no proof race had anything to do with it, because there isn’t any.

McElroy originally went to the Texas Tribune with her story and the intrepid reporters there didn’t include the smoking gun statement either. Instead, they followed McElroy’s guidelines and proclaimed dissenting views as illegitimate. Here’s how they describe the backlash that erupted shortly after the news about McElroy’s hiring at A&M:

…the conservative website Texas Scorecard wrote a piece emphasizing McElroy’s work at UT-Austin and elsewhere regarding diversity, equity and inclusion and her research on race, labeling her a “DEI proponent.” That website is the reporting arm of Empower Texans, a Tea Party-aligned group formed with millions in oil money that holds considerable influence over Texas officials.

Conservative, Tea Party and “millions in oil money.” Clearly those voices would fall into McElroy’s “illegitimate” category. The term “DEI proponent” is the official descriptor now being used for McElroy, making it sound like she is some kind of advocate for minority and marginalized students and voices, but again, there’s no evidence of that.

National news outlets have latched onto the story, portraying it as a clear cut example of racial discrimination in Texas. Virtually no national news story reports what McElroy said, but they all report that she is black,  as if that is what really matters.

The most ironic statement was a blog post by disgraced TV news anchor (and frequent Texas Tribune event star) Dan Rather, who states he’s embarrassed to be a Texan because of what happened to McElroy. Rather, who literally invented the term “fake but accurate” to describe the documents he created to try to frame former President George W. Bush, doesn’t seem to realize that his status as a Texan is an embarrassment to the rest of us.

Texas A&M should never have offered McElroy a job without knowing what she stood for. And once officials learned, they were absolutely correct to withdraw the offer. The only remaining question is why Texas taxpayers are still paying her salary at the University of Texas.


9th & Congress Episode 3: Why Conservatives Win in Texas with Ryan Gravatt

TPPF’s Sherry Sylvester talks with Ryan Gravatt, a pioneering digital strategist who led Texas conservatives into the digital age, regarding what we can expect to see next in the digital communications world of politics and public policy as we edge closer to a presidential campaign year and massive issue battles in Texas from property taxes to parental empowerment.

Ryan is a member of former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s original campaign team and his digital expertise and strategic vision has ensured that the delivery of Texas’ conservative message has always been cutting edge. He launched his firm, Raconteur Media, in 2004, years before the iPhone was released, and he set the bar for website development, social media outreach, email, digital advertising and search engine marketing from the beginning. Ryan is also an award winning expert in developing digital strategies and analytics for audience engagement.

The pair discuss what’s changed in digital communications in the last twenty years – — what conservatives are doing right, what’s going wrong and what’s next.


Sherry Sylvester

Sherry Sylvester is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. She is a political communications and public policy expert who has directed multi-million dollar statewide campaigns in New York, New Jersey and Texas and has been involved in dozens of Texas political campaigns. Campaigns and Elections Magazine has called her a “respected veteran” of hard-fought elections and in 2005, her alma mater, the Graduate School of Political Management, now at George Washington University in Washington D.C., named her “alumni of the year,” for her accomplishments in the field of professional politics. Early in her career Sherry worked as the Communications Director for U.S. Senate candidate Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman ever nominated for Vice President on a major party ticket. She also worked for David Dinkins, the first African-American to be elected Mayor of New York City. In Texas, she served for over a decade as the spokesperson and a strategic advisor to Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the most successful tort reform organization in the nation. She was a member of the original campaign and transition teams of Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and she managed his 2018 re-election campaign. She served for seven years as Senior Advisor to the Lt. Governor.  She is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Sherry is also an award winning journalist who has appeared on numerous national television and radio shows and has published hundreds of pieces of political commentary and policy analysis in newspapers, periodicals and academic journals. She covered politics for the San Antonio Express-News and was the Chief Political Writer for The Trentonian. Sherry has worked as a policy advocate in Washington D.C. and four state capitols – Austin, Albany, Trenton and Salem – advocating on policy issues including lawsuit reform, education reform, immigration reform, health care and criminal justice reform. She has directed corporate advertising campaigns and founded three successful, non-profit organizations including Texas Media Watch, which chronicled liberal bias in the Texas press.

In addition to her Masters from the Graduate School of Political Management, Sherry holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University. She is a native Oklahoman who is descended from founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War and was recently appointed to the State of Texas 1836 Project Advisory Committee. Sherry attends St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio and is married to Col. Stephen F. Ramsey, USAF (Ret.) They have nine grandchildren.

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Is the Texas A&M J School Flap “DEI Hysteria?”

Shortly after the Texas passage of the strongest DEI bill in the nation, Senate Bill 17, Texas A&M decided to revive its long defunct journalism school by hiring Kathleen McElroy. McElroy is a former New York Times writer and head of the University of Texas Journalism School where she describes her primary skill set on her thumbnail profile as “Diversity & Inclusion and Diversity Training.”

Although news reports indicate there was lots of fanfare surrounding her initial appointment, it’s not clear at this point exactly who hired her. A&M’s Board of Regents doesn’t appear to have been involved.

Judging from the play-by-play report McElroy gave to the Texas Tribune, whoever it was has buyer’s remorse. Her tenured position offer was reduced to a non-tenured position, then to a one-year, at-will contract, which she just rejected. She has announced she will remain at the University of Texas where she is a tenured professor.

McElroy reports that she feels “damaged” by what is described as “DEI hysteria” that has overtaken Texas A&M.

It’s not clear why Texas A&M decided to revive its journalism program after getting along fine without it since 2004. Perhaps it was motivated by the fact that the latest Gallup Poll shows that only 7% of Americans have “a great deal of trust” in the media. That clearly sounds like a problem a bunch of smart Aggies should set about to fix.

Still, it’s hard to see how McElroy is the right person for the job. She likes the journalism most Americans have learned not to trust. She told NPR, “We can’t just give people a set of facts anymore. I think we know that and we have to tell our students that. This is not about getting two sides of a story or three sides of a story, if one side is illegitimate. I think now you cannot cover education, you cannot cover criminal justice, you can’t cover all of these institutions without recognizing how all these institutions were built.”

So guess who decides which side of the news story is “illegitimate?”

Her former employers, the New York Times, wrote a short news story about McElroy’s recent issues at A&M, where they decided to “just give people the facts.” They quote a dean who implied the change was motivated by racism, but they also quoted one of her conservative critics, so apparently they did not believe the views of a DEI opponent were “illegitimate.”

It’s also important to note that, although she bills herself as a journalism professor, her comments about “these institutions” closely reflect the stated mission of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education:

“Engaging in ongoing ways to incorporate alternative narratives in the curriculum and provide robust learning opportunities on the history of racism, colonization and conquest on how higher education and other sectors of society have been complicit in maintaining systems of privilege.”

As for the “DEI hysteria” at Texas A&M, when their Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs testified before the Texas House regarding Senate Bill 17, he said there were “pockets of DEI at the university” but the administration was unaware of it.

But A&M’s State of Diversity Report in 2020 insists that “racism, hate speech, safety and belonging issues are evidence of systemic cultural problems that are enduring trends at Texas A&M.”

Whether the “DEI hysterics” are the result of only a few isolated DEI programs or “systemic cultural problems,” it will be hard for anyone to know because McElroy would make sure that only the “legitimate” side of the argument will be reported. Those with “illegitimate” views will be ignored.

Importantly, not one DEI officer who testified against Senate Bill 17 made a case that DEI programs have led to successful academic outcomes for minority and marginalized students. In fact, the data show just the opposite. At Texas A&M, 82% of African Americans reported they felt like they belonged in 2015. By 2020, that percentage had dropped to 55%.

Perhaps that’s because A&M’s multicultural service programs have created racially segregated programs that divide students by identity group, which, among other things, has resulted in racially segregated graduation ceremonies for Asian, African American, Latinx and LGBTQ students.

The journalists who make up the Texas media haven’t reported problems with DEI on any Texas campus, likely because the concerns of critics are viewed as “illegitimate.” Indeed, when McElroy chose to go to the Texas Tribune with her story, she picked a reporter who has described DEI opponents pejoratively as “conservative Texans—from locally elected public school trustees to top state officials—[who] have labeled several books and schools of thought that center the perspectives of people of color as ‘woke’ ideologies that make white children feel guilty for the country’s history of racism.” She didn’t quote any of the critics.

At the same time, without any evidence such as increased minority enrollment, improved grades, graduation rates or job placement, the same reporter writes that: “DEI offices have become a mainstay on college and university campuses across the country for years as schools try to boost faculty diversity and help students from all backgrounds succeed.”

Of course, efforts to help students from all backgrounds succeed on Texas campuses will continue, unimpeded by Senate Bill 17.

Texas A&M may want to reconsider if it really needs a journalism school. Unless it can find someone who believes in reporting all sides of the news, it may want to chalk up the McElroy experience as a bullet dodged and take a pass.


9th & Congress, Episode 2 | Affirmative Action with Dr. Richard Johnson

Sherry Sylvester discusses the Supreme Court’s ruling that America’s colleges and universities could no longer use race as a factor in determining who could be admitted with Dr. Richard Johnson, Director of the Booker T. Washington Institute at Texas Public Policy Foundation.