Letter to Wheaton College President Ryken regarding Professor Larycia Hawkins

Dr. Philip Graham Ryken, President
Wheaton College
Blanchard Hall
501 College Avenue
Wheaton, IL 60187

Dear President Ryken:

It is with great concern that we write regarding the status of a political scientist and member of your faculty, Larycia Hawkins. We understand from news media reports and from statements by Wheaton College that Professor Hawkins has been placed on administrative leave following posts on Facebook and that Wheaton’s provost has made a Notice of Recommendation to Initiate Termination-for-Cause Proceedings. We strongly encourage you to reinstate Professor Hawkins immediately and resolve this matter so that she is not terminated from her position.

The American Political Science Association is a scholarly association that represents more than 13,000 U.S. and internationally‐based professors and students of political science. Our membership includes those working at public and private institutions, at two year and four year institutions and at institutions granting Bachelor’s degrees and doctorates in political science. Our members research a wide variety of topics related to politics and human life, including politics and religion. In addition to being on your faculty, Professor Hawkins is a longtime member of the American Political Science Association and has been a member of our sections focusing on race, ethnicity and politics; religion and politics; and gender and politics. She has presented her research at numerous APSA conferences and published in scholarly books, edited books, and journals.

Without any further or contradictory information, her suspension appears to be connected to public statements about the status of religion in public life – statements that cannot be separated from her scholarly focus on religion and politics. While we cannot presume to know all the facts of her contractual relations with Wheaton College, we find the overlap between her scholarly focus, her public statements, and Wheaton’s resulting action particularly troubling. We urge you to continue working to resolve the situation so as to leave no doubt as to the College’s commitment to academic freedom, to freedom of expression, and to its stated support for “a robust exchange of ideas among faculty and students on the critical issues of the day.”


Jennifer Hochschild

David A. Lake

Rodney Hero
Immediate Past President

Steven Rathgeb Smith
Executive Director

A copy of the letter mailed can be found at APSA Public Statements and Letters.


  1. Dear American Political Science,

    I attend College Church which Dr. Ryken attends. The issue whether Professor Hawkins accepts it or not is that the College like our church sees two categories of people–saved or lost. There is no in between. Saved are those who placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and repented of their sins and lost are those who have not received Jesus Christ. Doing good works will not cut it. So if Professor Hawkins accepts this she will fit in teaching at the college. If she doesn’t, it does not make any sense for her to teach at the college. Wheaton College sees Islam, Hinduism, Buddhaism and all other Protestant and Catholic attempts to make into heaven through human effort as false. I hope this clarifies what is this sticking point. How can a college that encourages students to go out into the world to convert Muslims to Christianity through being missionaries say that Muslims are their brothers and sisters?

    • In response to the question in your post, Mr. Garvin, I ask you, what would Christ call them? Would Jesus not call Muslims his brothers and sisters? And if Wheaton College defines Christianity as you do, then it seems to me they should simply call it ianity, because Christ is being completely left out. Professor Hawkins is the one walking the path of Christianity. And I am deeply grateful.

Comments are closed.