Dr. Larycia Hawkins, the tenured Wheaton College professor who donned a hijab and faced backlash for stating Muslims and Christians worship the same God, has stepped down from her position.
Dr. Hawkins and the Illinois institution released a joint statement on the decision. The political science professor will speak at a press conference on Wednesday, according to NBC News.
Hawkins, an educator at the school for the past nine years, faced criticism after she was suspended in December for Facebook posts that discussed various aspects of religion. Hawkins’ explanation that Christians and Muslims share the same God led to a national debate.
The private evangelical school reportedly planned to fire Hawkins in January after she refused to engage in “clarifying conversations” regarding her comments. The school previously acknowledged it was her words, not the choice to wear a hijab, that landed her in trouble.
“Wheaton College sincerely appreciates Dr. Hawkins’ contributions to this institution over the last nine years,” says Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Graham Ryken. “We are grateful for her passionate teaching, scholarship, community service and mentorship of our students.”
In reflecting on her years at Wheaton, Dr. Hawkins says, “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.”
Both parties share a commitment to care for the oppressed and the marginalized, including those who are marginalized because of their religious beliefs, and to respectful dialogue with people of other faiths or no faith. While parting ways, both Wheaton College and Dr. Hawkins wish the best for each other in their ongoing work.
Students and alumni are divided about Hawkins’ departure. While some believe her view of the biblical doctrine was skewed, others claim the university failed to support her in the same manner they have other professors in the past.
The full statement added that no questions will be answered following the press conference. Read it in full here.