Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wheaton College Firing Fiasco

A Washington Post article in early January reported that Wheaton "had placed associate professor of political scence Larycia Hawkins on administrative leave after she [said] Muslims and Christians worship the same God. The school has now begun the process to fire her due to an 'impass'." The original story was carried on hundreds of media outlets.

Now it's being reported that Wheaton College faculty council has unanimously voted that the recommendation to have her "tenure and employment terminated" be withdrawn. It seems that the biggest issue at the moment is process---an unfair, inept and biased process.

From the beginning I was surprised by Wheaton's action against this professor, and I had the same concern about process that the council had. In another article I read on this topic, a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (where I taught as a visiting professor for 17 years) wrote that he was very concerned that the Wheaton administration had not consulted experts in the field of missiology---individuals who had actually studied Islam and worked cross-culturally with Muslims.

I can't help read stories like this and think back to the Calvin Seminary fiasco a dozen years ago. My situation was very different from hers, and I was taken off tenure track and given a terminal appointment secretively.  I was told that the matter was CONFIDENTIAL and warned not to consult with my colleagues. I was accused of unspecified "ungodly conduct." When I finally had the forum two years later to demand a definition of the accusation, it turned out to be a total crock. But it was too late to benefit me. I wish there had been a "faculty council" at the seminary that could have reviewed my situation right at the beginning. There was no process at all by which I might have appealed to a council of my colleagues.