Wheaton College professor put on leave for God remarks to quit in deal
Wheaton College said Saturday the evangelical school and professor Larycia Hawkins have "found a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation" and "have reached a confidential agreement under which they will part ways" after they disagreed over her remarks that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
"Wheaton College sincerely appreciates Dr. Hawkins' contributions to this institution over the last nine years," Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Graham Ryken said in a statement posted on Wheaton College's website and also released by Arise Chicago on behalf of Hawkins. "We are grateful for her passionate teaching, scholarship, community service and mentorship of our students."
The statement quoted Hawkins saying: "I appreciate and have great respect for the Christian liberal arts and the ways that Wheaton College exudes that in its mission, programs, and in the caliber of its employees and students."
Wheaton College Provost Stanton Jones also sent a letter to the college faculty Saturday saying he withdrew charges for firing professor Larycia Hawkins and apologized for some of his actions after responding to Hawkins remarks posted on social media.
"I asked Dr. Hawkins for her forgiveness for the ways I contributed to the fracture of our relationship, and to the fracture of Dr. Hawkins' relationship with the College," Jones says in the letter, obtained by The Wheaton Record, the college's student newspaper. "While I acted to exercise my position of oversight of the faculty within the bounds of Wheaton College employment policies and procedures, I apologized for my lack of wisdom and collegiality as I initially approached Dr. Hawkins, and for imposing an administrative leave more precipitously than was necessary."
But Jones wrote that he stands by his concerns about Hawkins' theological statements, saying they "raised important questions."
"However, in light of the deficiencies in my early responses, and recognizing that Dr. Hawkins' Theological Response was a promising start toward answering satisfactorily some of the questions that I was raising at the time," he revoked his notice to recommend termination proceedings against Hawkins, he wrote.
The letter comes five days before a faculty hearing was to meet to help decide her fate at the school. Hawkins, a Christian, was placed on administrative leave Dec. 15. Her Facebook posts days earlier included written support for Muslims, such as, "I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book," and, "As Pope Francis stated ... (Christians and Muslims) worship the same God."
At the time, Hawkins was also wearing a hijab to show solidarity with Muslims. Her Twitter account shows she repeated the act on Feb. 1 in a movement called World Hijab Day.
The Wheaton College statement said a joint news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Chicago Temple First United Methodist Church in Chicago, and that neither the college nor Hawkins would talk to the media before then. The statement also said both sides would not be taking questions at or after the news conference.
Saturday's announcement stunned Wheaton College students who had called for Hawkins' reinstatement.
"There's still hundreds of questions that we need to ask," said student Andrew Shadid, declining to comment further.
Last month more than 800 Wheaton College alumni threatened to withhold financial gifts to the school unless it reconciled with Hawkins. And students have held protests calling on the college to reconcile with or reinstate Hawkins.
A Wheaton College spokeswoman did not return calls and texts Saturday night.