Hawkins task force update

It has been seven months since it was announced that Larycia Hawkins, former assistant professor of politics and international relations, would part ways with Wheaton. The same amount of time has passed since Wheaton College President Philip Ryken announced that a task force would be created to conduct a review on the way the administration handled the controversy and the way the college ought to proceed with related issues in the future.
In order to ensure a balanced review process, the task force members differ in age, gender and role. Members include Wheaton College trustees, faculty, a student representative, a staff representative, an alumni representative and an outside representative. Greg Waybright, a senior pastor at Lake Avenue Church in California and a Wheaton College trustee, is the chair of the task force.
The task force operates based on five mandates given by the College’s Board of Trustees last year. Those inquiries include: core beliefs of Wheaton’s statement of faith and its interaction with academic freedom; the processes of the administration and their effectiveness; equitable treatment of people involved, including social media use; impartiality in roles of race, ethnicity and gender; and finally issues of governance.
Waybright stated that, in light of their research, these mandates “proved largely to be on target” as the primary questions that need to be addressed.
Throughout the spring semester and summer, the task force has been investigating, interviewing and discussing the events preceding and following Hawkins’s exit. By the beginning of June, the group had already gone over hundreds of emails, transcripts, media statement, interviews, letters, impact statements and timelines related to the case; this included reviewing “over 700 pages” of social media comments. In addition to reviewing audio, video and written data, the task force also conducted over 47 interviews during a six-day session on campus. In mid-August, the task force submitted a written report to the Board of Trustees and President Ryken.
Waybright noted that one member commented, “The number of pages of materials read by the task force is too numerous to count.”
The task force hopes to present a draft of a more public report to the Board of Trustees in October, according to Waybright. This is the report that will be made available to students and the general public.
No further information on the results of the investigation could be released due to the task force’s “strict confidentiality agreement.”

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