Faculty Call On University President To Resign After ‘Crisis’ Over Academic Freedom

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Hamline University faculty voted Tuesday to demand the school’s president resign after a professor’s contract was not renewed after she showed an unveiled portrait of Muhammad during a lecture on art history.

The Hamline University Faculty Council voted in favor of President Fayneese Miller’s resignation after university officials made repeated statements that were perceived as diminishing its commitment to academic freedom, KSTP Eyewitness News reported. Professor Erika López Prater’s contract was not renewed for the spring semester after she showed a portrait of Muhammad a student found offensive, which a university official alleged was “Islamophobic” and argued that “respect for the observant Muslim students in that classroom should have superseded academic freedom.”

About 86% of the council support Miller’s resignation, according to Eyewitness News. Faculty wanted to “make a statement on the crisis that’s happening at Hamline,” Jim Scheibel, faculty council president, told the outlet.

“It’s been clear the reputation, the coverage in media literally all over the world, donors, people who’ve contributed have said ‘I am not contributing anymore,’” he reportedly said.

Hamline said in a Jan. 17 statement signed by Miller that its use of “Islamophobia” was “flawed” and attempted to clear the air about public concerns over its commitment to academic freedom. The school will host two conversations about balancing academic freedom with religion and with “student care,” according to the statement.

We have learned much from the many scholars, religious leaders, and thinkers from around the world on the complexity of displaying images of the Prophet Muhammad. We have come to more fully understand the differing opinions that exist on this matter within the Muslim community,” the statement read. “And, we welcome the opportunity, along with our students and the broader community, to listen and learn more. We, like our higher education partners, want to do more to show that academic freedom and student support are both integral to the very fabric of who we are.”

Prater filed a lawsuit against the university on Jan. 17 which alleges that the university’s actions caused her “emotional distress” and harmed her “personal and professional reputation.”

Hamline University and the Faculty Council did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundations request for comment.

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