Hamline University disagrees in the strongest possible terms with the findings of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) report. The report is littered with factual inaccuracies and innuendo, and its main conclusions are not supported by factual evidence.
- AAUP publicly expressed bias against Hamline University prior to its investigation.
- AAUP provided a draft report, to which Hamline responded. These responses were, in large measure, not taken into account.
- AAUP reversed its initial finding from its draft report stating it could not prove Hamline violated the academic freedom of the adjunct, without providing additional evidence for that conclusion.
- Hamline University remains, as always, committed to academic freedom.
Full Text of Hamline Statement
Hamline University disputes the findings of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in its report released on Monday, May 22, 2023. Hamline provided a response to the AAUP draft report seeking to correct many of the errors in the draft. Rather than take the response into account or to follow up on Hamline’s offer to meet to discuss the matter, AAUP elected to issue its final report. Unfortunately, the report remains littered with factual inaccuracies and innuendo, and its main conclusions remain unsupported. Indeed, AAUP reversed its key initial finding from its draft report stating it could not prove Hamline violated the academic freedom of the adjunct, without providing additional evidence for that conclusion.
On January 6, 2023, AAUP posted on its website that Hamline should reinstate the adjunct. It must be noted that AAUP took this position before AAUP conducted on campus interviews with Hamline faculty and staff. Hamline administration made campus resources, including its staff and faculty, available to AAUP for its visit even though Hamline is not a member of AAUP and was under no obligation to submit to a visit from its reporting group. In return, AAUP responded with a draft report which was so error-strewn as to require a lengthy written response from Hamline. AAUP’s initial position and refusal to address the errors identified by Hamline clearly calls AAUP’s later objectivity into question and begs the question as to whether AAUP came to our campus with a predetermined outcome.
Unfortunately, AAUP’s response includes innuendo, speculation and mischaracterization. A report which says in so many words that its investigators lacked evidence of adversarial activity on the part of Hamline University but goes on to assert it anyway is irresponsible, unbecoming of the traditions of the liberal arts and is worthy of dismissal on its face. The report alleges that “the administration of Hamline University, including President Fayneese Miller and Vice President David Everett, engaged in “a de facto campaign of vilification against” [the adjunct]. This statement is false. As Hamline informed AAUP, President Miller refrained from identifying the adjunct and took a number of steps to maintain the anonymity of the adjunct. Moreover, President Miller, on January 11, 2023, in responding to the New York Times, stated that “The adjunct taught the class to the end of the term, when she, like all other faculty, completed the term requirements, and posted her grades. The decision not to offer her another class was made at the unit level and in no way reflects on her ability to adequately teach the class.” Not only did President Miller not vilify the adjunct, President Miller’s statement is not critical of the adjunct in any respect. Furthermore, AAUP stated that they “found no direct evidence of improper administrative interference in the decision not to offer another class to Professor Lopez Prater.”
Similarly, AAUP’s report engages in wholly unsupported speculation claims that Hamline “appears to have engaged outside entities and may have encouraged student involvement, and its repercussions appear to have followed Professor López Prater to a neighboring institution.” As AAUP is aware, there was intense media attention surrounding this matter. Given the adjunct’s displaying the images of the Prophet Muhammad, the interests of outside entities cannot be simply attributed as being directed by the university. As the AAUP states as part of its conclusions, “the committee has not seem [sic] facts sufficient to justify a definitive conclusion on this issue…” Accordingly, such rank speculation appears to serve no other purpose than to damage Hamline University.
To avoid any further confusion, we will state again, for the record: President Fayneese Miller and Hamline University’s non-academic administration have no role whatsoever in determining who teaches a class from one term to the next, and categorically denies any role, assumed or otherwise, in personal attacks against any of its past or present employees.