Embattled Minnesota college head to retire next year
Apr 3, 2023, 9:07 AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The president of a private university in Minnesota that was criticized for firing a professor who showed a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in an art history class announced Monday that she is retiring next year.
Hamline University said in a statement that the retirement of President Fayneese Miller will take effect on June 30, 2024.
Neither Miller nor the university directly referenced the controversy in the statement announcing her upcoming departure and search for a replacement. The closet the statement came was when Miller expressed pride in “creating a sense of belonging for all on campus.”
Issues arose in October when Erika López Prater showed a 14th-century painting depicting the Prophet Muhammad to her students as part of a lesson on Islamic art after warning them beforehand and giving them an opportunity to opt out. She has sued the liberal arts school in St. Paul over Miller’s decision not to renew her contract.
While leaders of some local Muslim groups have criticized López Prater, the national office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations disputed claims that her actions were Islamophobic. The group said professors who analyze images of the Prophet Muhammad for academic purposes are not the same as “Islamophobes who show such images to cause offense.”
Faculty at the school were so upset that they called in a January vote for Miller to resign, objecting to what they considered a violation of academic freedom.
But several student groups defended her in a letter to the student newspaper. The letter said Miller has been a consistent supporter of students, and the faculty’s call for her resign betrayed them.
After criticism from across the country, Miller ultimately conceded that she mishandled the episode.