Larycia Hawkins

Larycia Hawkins
Born (1972-08-22) August 22, 1972
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Residence Oak Park, Illinois
Other names Larycia Alaine Hawkins
Alma mater
Religion Christian
Institutions Wheaton College (2007–Feb 10, 2016[1])
Main interests
  • American government and politics
  • Religion and politics
  • Policy and politics
  • Race and welfare politics
  • Interest groups and political advocacy
  • Research methodology

Larycia Alaine Hawkins (born August 22, 1972) is an American scholar, author, and speaker, who in 2013, became the first female African-American tenured professor at Wheaton College, a Christian evangelical liberal arts college. She served as an associate professor of political science at the college.

In December, 2015, she became the center of a global controversy when Wheaton College suspended her after she wore hijab and claimed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Hawkins posted photographs of herself wearing hijab and explaining her actions as Christian solidarity with Muslims during Advent on her personal social media page. Hawkins was placed on paid administrative leave on December 15 as the school determined whether her statement is at odds with the school's core beliefs [2] On February 8, 2016, Wheaton College and Hawkins issued a joint statement that they had “reached a confidential agreement under which they will part ways.”[3][4][5] On March 3, 2016, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia announced that Hawkins would be appointed as the school’s Abd el-Kader Visiting Faculty Fellow.[6]

Early life and education

Hawkins was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where she grew up and attended high school. She received her B.A. in History and Sociology from Rice University in Houston, Texas in 1994. She received an M.P.A. at the University of Oklahoma in 2001. She subsequently completed her Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma in political science in 2007. Her research is about black theology and its relationship to political rhetoric and black political agendas, like those of the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP.[7]


Hawkins's early career included working in federal programs administered by the state government such as the Social Security Disability program and the Community Development Block Grant.[7]

Hawkins joined the faculty at Wheaton College in 2007 where she served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations from 2007 to 2014. In 2014, she was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations. Hawkins in the first African American female to have been tenured at Wheaton College since its founding in 1860.[7]


On December 10, 2015, Hawkins wrote a Facebook post saying:

I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God. ... As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws (read: unconstitutional and Islamophobic), and at church.[8]

She also added: "I have sought the advice and blessing of one of the preeminent Muslim organizations in the United States, the Council on American Islamic Relations, #CAIR, where I have a friend and Board colleague on staff."[8] Hawkins began wearing the hijab on December 11,[9] and continued to do so throughout Advent.[10]

On December 11, the Wheaton College administration issued a "Wheaton College Statement Regarding Christian Engagement with Muslim Neighbors"[11] emphasizing that "overtures of Christian friendship must be enacted with theological clarity as well as compassion."[12] Hawkins made a rejoinder on December 13, in her words, "clarifying the goal of my project and appealing to unity."[9]

On December 15, 2015, the Wheaton College administration placed Hawkins on administrative leave and issued a "Wheaton College Statement Regarding Dr. Larycia Hawkins" "pending the full review to which she is entitled as a tenured faculty member."[11] On December 16, 2015, the Wheaton College administration supplemented the statement to clarify that the college had placed "Dr. Larycia Hawkins on paid administrative leave in order to give more time to explore theological implications of her recent public statements concerning Christianity and Islam."[13]

On January 5, 2016, Wheaton College issued a public notice confirming that it was beginning formal proceedings to terminate Hawkins' employment, and maintaining that Hawkins had "declined to participate in further dialogue about the theological implications of her public statements and her December 17 response".[14][15]

Hawkins has made repeated statements to the press asserting her affirmation of the Wheaton College Statement of Faith.[16][17] She insists that her actions were motivated by Christian faith and that she is an orthodox Protestant.[18] Emails obtained by Time magazine revealed that Wheaton provost Stan Jones considered Hawkins's statements "innocuous", but that the College had been receiving pressure about Hawkins and another faculty member who made statements about Islam. Gary Burge, a Wheaton New Testament professor, told Time, "I have seen no theological argument from the college that would deem her commitments unacceptable."[19] Students and alumni of Wheaton College have begun a petition to reinstate "Doc Hawk",[20] and some professors plan to wear their academic regalia on January 11 as an expression of support.[19]

On Saturday, February 6, 2016, in an e-mail released by Wheaton College's President, Philip Ryken, it was mutually agreed that, to help bring closure to the situation, while Wheaton would not fire Professor Hawkins, they had decided to part ways, and that she would voluntarily resign. In a separate e-mail to the faculty, Wheaton College Provost Stan Jones said that he has withdrawn charges for firing Professor Hawkins and has asked her for forgiveness in not dealing with her directly.[21]

On March 3, 2016, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia announced that Hawkins would be appointed as the school’s Abd el-Kader Visiting Faculty Fellow, where she would participate in two of the Institute's projects, the Pluralism Project and the Race, Faith and Culture Project. Hawkins was quoted as saying that the Institute was "the perfect place for me to pursue my scholarship,” which will focus on relationships between race and religion.[6]


Her publications:[7]





Conference presentations

See also


  1. Garcia, John (10 February 2016). "Wheaton College, Dr. Larycia Hawkins agree to part ways".
  2. "Chicago Christian college suspends professor after headscarf comments". The Guardian. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  3. "Students rally to support professor who was suspended for saying Christians and Muslims 'worship the same God'". Business Insider. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  4. Design, ISITE. "Joint Statement by Wheaton College and Dr. Larycia Hawkins Announcing a Resolution | Wheaton". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  5. Dias, Elizabeth. "Questions Linger After Wheaton Professor Agrees to Leave". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  6. 1 2 Brooke Fox (2010-03-03). "Former Wheaton professor Larycia Hawkins finds new home at UVA". USA Today.
  7. 1 2 3 4 "Larycia Hawkins". Wheaton. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  8. 1 2 "Larycia Alaine Hawkins". December 20, 2015.
  9. 1 2 Hawkins, Larycia (December 17, 2015). "Statement by Dr. Larycia Hawkins; December 17, 2015". Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  10. Zylstra, Sarah Eekhoff; Lee, Morgan (January 6, 2016). "Wheaton College Recommends Terminating Tenured Professor over 'Same God' Comments". Christianity Today.
  11. 1 2 "Wheaton College Statement Regarding Christian Engagement with Muslim Neighbors". Wheaton College. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  12. Botelho, Greg. "Wheaton College: Christian professor who wore hijab put on leave -". CNN. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  13. Taylor, Marisa. "Christian college suspends hijab-wearing professor over Islam remarks". Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  14. Ed Payne (6 January 2016). "Wheaton College moves against professor who wore hijab". CNN.
  15. "Statement by Wheaton College Regarding Notice of Recommendation to Initiate Termination Proceedings as to Dr. Larycia Hawkins". Wheaton College.
  16. "Wheaton College student urges hijabs be worn on holiday flights, backs professor". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  17. "Statement of Faith and Educational Purpose". Wheaton College. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  18. "Op-Ed: Wheaton College initiates process to fire Larycia Hawkins". Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  19. 1 2 Dias, Elizabeth. "Exclusive: Wheaton College Provost Called Suspended Professor's Muslim Comments 'Innocuous'". Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  20. Graham, Ruth. "What Really Caused an Evangelical College to Suspend a Professor?". The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  21. "Wheaton will not fire professor over Muslim worship comments, but she will leave college".
  22. Bradley, Anthony B. Black Scholars in White Space: New Vistas in African American Studies from the Christian Academy (Kindle ed.). Amazon.

External links

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