Dr. Philip Graham Ryken
President’s Office
Blanchard Hall
501 College Avenue
Wheaton, IL 60187-5593

Dear President Ryken,

It has come to our attention that the internal review case against Wheaton College Associate Professor of Political Science Larycia Hawkins has been escalated and a Notice of Recommendation to Initiate Termination-for-Cause Proceedings has recently been delivered.

Our information on the case is limited and drawn from Wheaton’s website and coverage in the national and international media. We realize that Wheaton may have been contacted by constituents within the Evangelical community who may not like Hawkins’ post on Facebook. Yet we believe a fundamental obligation all universities have is to support their faculty’s right to this type of academic speech. We ask that as a member of the academic community you respect that right and suspend the termination proceedings to resolve this issue.

While completing her Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma, Hawkins presented research on “Policy Images of the Faith-Based Initiative” at our association’s conference and has since gone on to actively contribute research to the topics of religion, race and public policy. Hawkins’ comments that have attracted criticism are inextricably linked to her areas of research, and Wheaton’s attempt to restrict her speech is not consistent with the academic freedom that is at the core of the academic community.

Among our association’s purposes are to facilitate communications between those engaged in the study of political science and to encourage research on all aspects of political science, from Political Theory and Public Policy to International Relations. The MPSA has over 6,000 members around the United States and in over 100 other countries.

The MPSA leadership believes that the current actions of Wheaton create an environment where academic research is stifled and in the spirit of continued academic freedom, we ask that Wheaton College immediately suspend its Termination-for-Cause Proceedings against Larycia Hawkins.


Paula McClain, Duke University President
Jan E. Leighley, American University President-Elect
Edward G. Carmines, Indiana University Immediate Past President
William D. Morgan Executive Director