Wheaton College will review its handling of academic freedom issues and endow a scholarship in the name of the professor who has agreed to leave the Christian college after months of controversy over her remarks expressing solidarity with Muslims.
Those steps were announced Wednesday as the professor, Larycia Hawkins, and Wheaton College President Philip Ryken talked to reporters for the first time since the college announced it would “part ways” with Hawkins.
Hawkins thanked those who supported her during two months at the center of a national debate about academic freedom and religious tolerance, but said little about the flap that cost her her job. The professor focused her remarks on a call for “embodied solidarity” among people of all stripes, and recollections of her nearly nine years as a tenured professor at Wheaton.
“My journey at Wheaton College is part of my journey. This is not the end of a journey,” said Hawkins, her voice cracking. “There are no goodbyes, only good memories. And we will continue to walk together, because I will always stand with Wheaton College.”
Ryken said the school would review its handling of “academic freedom in the context of our Christian convictions,” and that the college would endow a scholarship in Hawkins’ name to support students studying “peace and conflict resolution.”
Ryken acknowledged the roiling debate that broke out on the 2,300-student campus and in evangelical circles in December, when Hawkins was suspended after she posted pictures of herself on Facebook wearing a traditional Muslim headscarf; she said she would wear the hijab for the duration of the Advent season to express support for Muslims.
School administrators said statements Hawkins posted along with the photos that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God” appeared to violate Wheaton’s “Statement of Faith.”