Faced with a full-scale revolt by students and faculty, Wheaton College has managed to rid itself of its troublesome tenured African-American woman. Over the weekend, the finest evangelical institution of higher learning in suburban Chicago announced a “confidential agreement” under which it and political science professor Larycia Hawkins would effect “a parting of the ways.”
Hawkins offended the school’s powers and principalities by alleging on her Facebook page that Muslims are people of the book who worship the same God as Christians. Provost Stan Jones responded by suspending her from teaching and issuing a Notice of Termination.
Bless his heart, Provost Jones has now withdrawn the Notice and apologized to the faculty for “lack of wisdom and collegiality” — albeit making sure to say that he acted “within the bounds of Wheaton College employment policies and procedures” and that he stood by his “concerns that Dr. Hawkins’s theological statements raised important questions.”
For their part, President Philip Graham Ryken has expressed his appreciation for Hawkins’ contributions to the college and Hawkins has expressed her appreciation for how the college “exudes” the Christian liberal arts. Far be it from me to criticize her. It’s her life and career, not mine. I just hope her lawyers made Wheaton pay through the nose to make her go away.
I feel badly for the students, though. They won’t be able to take any more courses with Doc Hawk, who by all accounts is a challenging and popular teacher. I also feel badly for the faculty, whose case against the administration’s irregular procedures (outlined here by my colleague and Wheaton alum Tobin Grant) has now been short-circuited.
Yes, President Ryken says he’s asked the Board of Trustees to conduct a thorough review “to improve the way the College addresses faculty personnel issues in the future, especially when these issues relate to our Statement of Faith.” Well, that will be worth waiting for.
In the meantime, chalk one up for the powers and principalities.