Wheaton College of Illinois and Larycia A. Hawkins, an associate professor of political science whom the evangelical Christian institution was seeking to fire, “have reached a confidential agreement under which they will part ways,” the college and Ms. Hawkins announced on Saturday in a joint statement.
The statement describes the agreement as “a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation” and says that neither Wheaton nor Ms. Hawkins will discuss it before Wednesday, when they plan to hold a joint news conference.
The college suspended Ms. Hawkins in December, after she spoke out in solidarity with Muslims to counter what she called the “vitriolic” rhetoric that some politicians were using against Islam. Her views gained wide attention after she posted them on Facebook, along with a photograph of herself in a hijab.
A few weeks later Wheaton’s provost, Stanton L. Jones, began efforts to dismiss her. The hijab was not the issue, Wheaton officials said. Instead they objected to her statement that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God,” a view they said was inconsistent with the college’s statement of faith.
A faculty group at Wheaton protested Ms. Hawkins’s suspension and called on the college to halt the termination proceedings against her. Some professors questioned whether racial or gender bias had influenced the decision to begin those proceedings. Ms. Hawkins, who is the first and only black female tenured professor at Wheaton, has said she felt she was being held to a different standard than other professors at the predominantly white college.
The Chicago Tribune reported on Sunday that some professors had been confused and angered by messages that college officials sent to them on Saturday night about the resolution of the case.
First they received an apologetic email from Mr. Jones in which he said he had turned over the decision on whether to vacate Ms. Hawkins’s suspension to the college’s president, Philip G. Ryken. Two hours later they received an email from Mr. Ryken, informing them that Ms. Hawkins would not return to teach.
In his email, according to the Tribune, Mr. Jones said he stood by his concerns about Ms. Hawkins’s theological statements but apologized for having appeared to question the sincerity of her Christian faith and for having acted “more precipitously than was necessary” in putting her on administrative leave. He said he had apologized to Ms. Hawkins and asked “for her forgiveness for the ways I contributed to the fracture of our relationship.”
President Ryken, in his email, said he had asked Wheaton’s Board of Trustees to review the faculty’s concerns, adding that he hoped the review would improve how Wheaton handles faculty issues, especially when they relate to the college’s statement of faith.
He also invited faculty members to a private worship service on Tuesday night and to a reception at which Ms. Hawkins will say goodbye.