After three weeks of suspension and a review of the controversial statements made by Wheaton College’s Political Science Professor Dr. Larycia Hawkins, the evangelical school’s provost is recommending her termination. However, the recommendation only sets into motion more investigations before finally determining the tenured professor’s Wheaton career.
On Tuesday, January 5, Wheaton issued a press statement confirming, “Provost Stanton Jones delivered to President Philip Ryken and to Dr. Larycia Hawkins a Notice of Recommendation to Initiate Termination-for-Cause Proceedings regarding Dr. Hawkins.” The press statement was clear that the recommendation is not a termination but, instead, “begins Wheaton College’s established process for employment actions pertaining to tenured faculty members.”
The controversy surrounds Hawkins’ December 10 Facebook post declaring her intent to wear a hijab throughout Advent season. Her decision, she explained, was to show solidarity with her Muslim neighbors “because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
Wheaton went on to describe the next steps in the termination proceedings:
- A hearing before the Faculty Personnel Committee, an elected body made up of nine tenured faculty members. At the hearing, which is to be held within 30 days, the FPC will receive testimonial and documentary evidence from both sides, after which it will make a recommendation to President Ryken regarding Dr. Hawkins’ tenure.
- President Ryken will consider the recommendations of both Provost Jones and the FPC, and make a recommendation to the Wheaton College Board of Trustees.
- The Wheaton College Board of Trustees will make a final decision regarding Dr. Hawkins’ employment with the College.
We will soon hear Hawkins’ side of the story. Hawkins serves on the board of Arise Chicago, a faith-based labor activism organization. Arise is currently handing Hawkins’ public relations and is to host an official press briefing on Wednesday, January 6, at 10am at First United Methodist at the Chicago Temple, a notoriously liberal Reconciling Congregation, which is the unofficial LGBT caucus within the United Methodist Church.