posted by CAA — Jan 18, 2023
CAA has been following the termination of Professor Erika López Prater at Hamline University. As of last Friday, the Board of Trustees at the university has been engaged in a review of institutional policies, including those focused on academic freedom and inclusion. CAA strongly urges the Board and the administration to uphold the tenets of academic freedom with respect to Dr. López Prater for their public statements that have defamed and damaged her person and her professional reputation.
Academic freedom is a core principle of both Hamline University’s mission and CAA’s charter, and Dr. López Prater’s termination is a tacit rejection of everything that principle stands for in higher education. Beyond an infringement on academic freedom, Hamline’s actions are a dangerous precedent of academic administrators endorsing one side of a religious controversy.
Hamline University’s characterization of Dr. López Prater’s action as “Islamophobic” contradicts widely held definitions of the term from prominent public interest advocacy groups, including the national organizations CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), and MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council). Dr. López Prater met and exceeded pedagogical standards for teaching by providing advance written and verbal notice of the intention to illustrate her lecture with two images of the Prophet Muhammed. Additionally, the images she used are historic and symbolic works of art of significance, essential to teaching the long and rich art history of Islam.
CAA calls upon Hamline University, President Fayneese Miller, and AVP David Everett to apologize to Dr. López Prater formally and publicly. Furthermore, this would be the appropriate time to affirm their commitment to both the informed pedagogy that Dr. López Prater demonstrated, and the academic freedom to pursue truth that all professors should expect. CAA speaks on behalf of a membership base that is facing increasingly precarious standards of employment—which is the very reason Hamline University was so easily able to terminate Dr. López Prater. Amends would be made if they recommitted to a tenure-line position for the teaching of art history.
Other Statements of Support: